BOOK OF DANIEL – Surprise! Surprise!

Posted by on Nov 8, 2018 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on BOOK OF DANIEL – Surprise! Surprise!

Surprise! Surprise!

Have you ever had trouble falling to sleep through worrying about something that you just cannot wait for morning to arrive? That situation describes exactly how king Darius felt in Daniel 6:19 where we are told, “Then the king arose at dawn, at the break of day, and went in haste to the lions’ den.” (NASB)

After foolishly being deceived by his officials into having Daniel put to death, as soon as day broke he ran to the lions’ den. We are told “at dawn” (which is the first light of the day) that he arose with no time to waste. Whether you realize it or not, Darius was holding on to some hope that Daniel’s God would save him. Why did he have such a hope? That is one question the Scriptures do not answer for us directly. But given the fact that he favored Daniel above all others meant that, in some way, Daniel had impressed him. He may have seen how devout Daniel was in serving his God. Daniel may have shared the history of the Babylon nation and, in particular, the events that the book of Daniel records with the king. Rather than this be a faith in Daniel’s God, however, it was more likely a superstitious belief that may have arisen from such stories. Nevertheless, in the next verse, we are about to read there is a remarkable address that the king utters. Daniel 6:20 says, “When he had come near the den to Daniel, he cried out with a troubled voice. The king spoke and said to Daniel, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you constantly serve, been able to deliver you from the lions?” (NASB) In the early morning light just breaking through the darkness, the shadows of the den limited his vision in attempting to catch a glimpse of Daniel, or what may have been left of him. Not being able to see him, Darius calls out to Daniel. Here again, we see a king of an empire address Daniel as a servant of the living God. He asks Daniel if his God has saved him. Even the fact that Darius held on to the possibility that Daniel may have been alive is remarkable. But this was not faith on his part. We see that because the Scripture says he cried out with a “troubled voice”. Other translations use the word lamenting for troubled. In other words, he was crying out mournfully, hoping against all hope that Daniel was, indeed, still alive.

What king Darius next heard must have been breathtaking! Daniel 6:21-22 tells us, “Then Daniel spoke to the king, “O king, live forever! My God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths and they have not harmed me, inasmuch as I was found innocent before Him; and also toward you, O king, I have committed no crime.” (NASB)  

Several points are evident in these verses that we must not miss. First, we hear the calm collective voice of Daniel without any hint of concern or fear. He addresses the king in the usual courteous manner by saying “O king, live forever”. Secondly, he tells the king how he was saved by saying that his God sent His angel who “shut the lion’s mouths”. He confirmed that he was unharmed, which highlights the third point. True justice had won the day. Daniel told the king he was unharmed because he had been found innocent before His God and also toward Darius himself. No crime had been committed. Now, I can hear the liberals shout that, of course, he was innocent because he flouted the command of Darius decreeing that no one was to make a petition to their gods. Such accusations show complete ignorance of the laws of God. He is Almighty. He is the ruler of heaven and earth. He rules the Universe. No law trumps God’s laws. You will recall in Acts chapter four the Apostles Peter and John were arrested and jailed for preaching about Jesus Christ. The day after their arrest they were told by the Jerusalem Council not to speak about Jesus to anyone. Acts 4:19-20 says, “But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.” (NASB) In the following chapter of Acts, Peter and all the Apostles were arrested. In Acts 5:27-28 the High Priest and the Council charged them not to teach in the name of Jesus. Acts 5:29 records, “But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.” (NASB)

Here is the point. Unless we are challenged by government authorities to stop obeying or offering worship to God we are to submit ourselves to their authority for they are placed in those positions of authority by God Himself. Whether they recognize such appointments are sovereignly appointed by God is irrelevant. The only time a Christian can disobey such authorities is when a decision or order is in conflict with obeying God. This is what the Apostles recognized and it was what Daniel recognized.

Daniel 6:23-24 tells the reaction of Darius the king in finding Daniel unharmed and his actions to those who had used him. “Then the king was very pleased and gave orders for Daniel to be taken up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den and no injury whatever was found on him, because he had trusted in his God. The king then gave orders, and they brought those men who had maliciously accused Daniel, and they cast them, their children and their wives into the lions’ den; and they had not reached the bottom of the den before the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones.” (NASB)

Here are the two verses I said I would mention that confirms the structure of the lions’ den. Verse twenty-three says Daniel was taken up out of the den. Whether this was by a rope or ladder we are not told. Just like the flames in Nebuchadnezzar’s fiery furnace could not touch Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah neither could the mouths of lions harm Daniel. It was, again, an act of Divine protection by God Himself upon His faithful witnesses.

Verse twenty-four tells us that those who had maliciously used Darius to fulfill their evil intent were cast [or thrown] into the den and were overpowered by the lions before they had reached the bottom. Scriptures are replete with accounts of those who disobeyed God and reaped His full wrath upon them due to their actions. The punishment upon such evil false witnesses is in line with the law God laid down in Deuteronomy 19:16-21.

Yet again, liberal scholars have ridiculed Daniel’s account by saying that it would be impossible to throw one hundred and twenty officials plus wives and children into the lions’ den. I am appalled at such an attitude as to question not Daniel, but God Himself. I am also somewhat amazed at such a statement being made when first they say no such dens were known in antiquity, yet now they claim they know the size of the den or how else are they to ridicule the Scripture? But let us step back a moment. The Scripture does not state all one hundred and twenty officials plus wives and children were thrown into the den. It could easily as meant the main ringleaders of the plot to kill Daniel and, thereby, serve as a warning to the rest of their co-conspirators. But suppose it was all one hundred and twenty officials. Would that be impossible for a den of lions to devour possibly upward of four hundred plus individuals? Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 – 43 BC) who was a Roman statesman, orator, lawyer and philosopher wrote it was seldom necessary for two beasts to be required to take down one man. Frequently one beast dispatched several men. He goes on to say that in one instance, a single lion dispatched two hundred people. Why do such “scholars” think they have better knowledge of God’s Word than God Himself? These so-called experts ignore the fact that they bear the same attitude as those who threatened Daniel. Many of those officials knew how God had acted in the days of Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar. They saw what happened. Yet they ignored the fact that God was watching them and noting their gross sin against His representative(s). The result was that they were overpowered by the lions and every single bone in their bodies was crushed. It should be a stark lesson not to mess with God or His faithful followers for, at God’s choosing, their wicked acts will receive God’s judgment.

Just as Nebuchadnezzar declared that the people of Babylon were not to speak against Daniel’s God, Darius issued a similar decree. Daniel 6:25-28 says, “Then Darius the king wrote to all the peoples, nations and men of every language who were living in all the land: “May your peace abound! I make a decree that in all the dominion of my kingdom men are to fear and tremble before the God of Daniel; For He is the living God and enduring forever, And His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed, And His dominion will be forever. “He delivers and rescues and performs signs and wonders In heaven and on earth, Who has also delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.” So this Daniel enjoyed success in the reign of Darius and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian.” (NASB)

Darius declared peace to abound and further issued a decree that everyone was to fear and tremble before the God of Daniel. While he may not have served Daniel’s God himself he acknowledged that Daniel’s God was a living God who endures forever. Despite him being the king of the mightiest nation on earth, he knows God’s kingdom would never be destroyed and that his dominion would last forever. We see the proof in all of his words through the delivery of God servants by the various signs and wonders in heaven and on earth confirming that Daniel himself was delivered by that same power out of the lions’ den. As for Daniel, he continued to enjoy success under both Darius and Cyrus.

We have reached the mid-point of the book of Daniel. In its pages so far we have seen how man-made governments are not only transient but lack any ability to change the course of God’s plans. We have seen quite the opposite, in fact, where it is God who can, and has, thwarted the plans of man, forcing them to acknowledge His ultimate and Almighty power. It is a story of abject failure of man to rule themselves.  Mankind’s only hope is in believing and accepting that only a kingdom installed by God can be both everlasting and powerful. That kingdom is coming. It is imminent. It cannot be stopped. It will be ruled by God’s Son Himself, Christ Jesus. As we move into the second half of Daniel we are going to see the prophetic timelines unfold of when that kingdom will be established on earth. We will see many symbolic pictures that identify the nations of the Gentile Times and that help us weave through the historical timeline. This second portion of the book will challenge you. The descriptions in Daniel may appear confusing and difficult to understand at times. I will endeavor to explain it as I am able, God willing.