This week God is speaking to me through some well-known Bible stories. Each day I will share one with you.
The story of Daniel in the lionâ€™s den is often shared with young children to (I guess) build faith with the concept that God is able to save you from anything! Itâ€™s a good concept but todayâ€™s children may not be able to relate to being thrown in a lionâ€™s den. Letâ€™s consider what we can all learn from Daniel chapter 6.
Daniel was a captive. He was taken from his home in Jerusalem to Babylon. Did you know that Babylon is now Iraq? Think of being taken from your home as a captive, bound or in chains, and ending up in Iraq! Daniel didnâ€™t sit in a prison there. He became an administrator for the king. Such a good administrator that other â€˜politiciansâ€™ tried to slander him. They failed. How did that happen? Look at verse 4:
â€¦the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent. Daniel 6:4 (NIV, my emphasis)
Daniel lived his faith in obedience to God. He did not present one side in public or when someone was looking, and show another side â€˜under the tableâ€™ when he thought no one was looking. He knew God was always looking!
Finally these men said, â€œWe will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God.â€ Daniel 4:5 (NIV)
They thought they had found Danielâ€™s weakness. He was a man of faith in an unseen god. Has anyone ever suggested to you that â€œhaving faith in God is for weak-minded peopleâ€? I remember the night I made my commitment to Jesus and that I came to that place because relying on myself and my abilities and my wisdom for over 40 years really wasnâ€™t working for me!!! Yes, I was weak. I decided to join up with Someone who was stronger and my CREATOR!!!
So the schemers manipulate the king by pandering to his ego and get him to issue a law that cannot be broken or changed that will force Daniel to choose: worship the king or worship God. What the schemers didnâ€™t know was that it was a choice Daniel had made a long time ago and would never change! Daniel hears about the edict and immediately turns to his Lord in prayer. He knows his choice but he also knows that the choice will require strength to follow through the consequences of that choice.
There is a point where we can all relate. We know the right and wrong answer to choices about drugs, purity in relationships, finances, politics, being good stewards, even the stewardship of our time and service. Too often itâ€™s choosing the â€˜easy wayâ€™ or the less â€˜differentâ€™ way. As I write this, I can think of daily choices that required such a simple choice that would please my Lord â€“ and I didnâ€™t. (sigh)
Now we see Daniel in the lionâ€™s den. Itâ€™s a scary, disgusting way to be killed. Why did God allow it to happen? Why give Daniel such great favor in this enemy land and then allow him to be tossed into this pit? Because Godâ€™s ways arenâ€™t our ways. Yes, that is a phrase that doesnâ€™t always give such comfort and joy â€“ but it is true. Look at some of the things that we do know that happened because of what God allowed:
1) The king changed. After sending Daniel to the den, Then the king returned to his palace and spent the night without eating and without any entertainment being brought to him. And he could not sleep. Daniel 6:18 (NIV) The king cared. His heart was changed. Thatâ€™s something God can do and wants to do â€“ change our hearts.
2) Justice occurred. Those who had conspired against Daniel ended up in the den after Daniel was released from the den. They didnâ€™t come out alive! We donâ€™t always see justice so clearly. We are promised this justice from Genesis to Revelation as God shows us that He is just and He does see.
3) The land changed. The king issues another law that the people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel. (verse 26) and he goes on to testify to who God is. How does the king know who God is? He has seen God in Daniel. And there is where I catch a glimpse of what God sees with His eyes â€“ the bigger picture. God does not have a â€˜Plan Bâ€™. Godâ€™s plan is for us (for me) to testify with my life about who God is. That is what Daniel didâ€¦and still does.