Sunday Night Bible Study

June 25, 1995

Daniel 6:1-28

Introduction

I think it's important to keep in mind certain things that have happened to Daniel and his friends in their lives in Babylon.

They were men who didn't compromise in their walk with God.

In Dan.1, they risked punishment in order not to eat food that would hinder their relationship with God.

In Daniel 3, Daniel's three friends would rather face the fiery furnace than bow to an idol.

They were men who were used greatly in the secular government.

In Daniel 2, Daniel interpretted a pretty important dream for Nebuchadnezzar, showing him the future Gentile empires of the world.

In Daniel 4, Daniel warned Nebuchadnezzar that he needed to be humbled, Nebuchadnezzar became a cow, and finally humbles himself before God.

In Daniel 5, Daniel warned Nebuchadnezzar's grandson, Belshazzar about humility too, he didn't listen and that night the empire fell to Cyrus, king of the Persians.

:1-3 Daniel's promotion in Medo-Persian government

:1 Darius

Just who is this "Darius"?

Last week we read:

Daniel 5:31-AV And Darius the Median took the kingdom, [being] about threescore and two years old.

From this we know that -

1. He was a "Mede".

840 b.c. - They first appear in history under the name of Amada. They were a branch of the Aryan race who came from the east bank of the Indus river. They consisted for three or four centuries of a number of tribes, each ruled by its own chief.

Eventually they were brought under subjection to the Assyrians.

633 b.c. - They organized and rebelled, forming their own empire under Cyaxares.

625 b.c. - They formed their first alliance with the king of Babylon, invaded Assyria, capturing and destroying the city of Nineveh.

Under the son of Cyaxares, Astyages fought against the Persians, and was conquered by the Persians.

The two nations were united under one monarch, Cyrus the Persian

539 b.c. - It is under the rule of Cyrus that Babylon falls to the Medes and the Persians.

Remember Nebuchadnezzar's dream back in Daniel 2?

Nebuchadnezzar was the head of gold, and the Medo-Persian empire was the chest of silver.

God's plan marches on, like it or not.

2. He was 62 years old when he was given Babylon to rule.

Secular historians have a problem with him.

They haven't found any secular records of anyone named Darius the Mede.

Various theories have been proposed.

Some would propose that this is just another error in the Bible.

Some think this is just another name for Cyrus the Persian.

Some think that this was a man named Ugbaru, the governor of Gutium who was the general over Cyrus' forces when Babylon was conquered. Ugbaru was supposedly named governor over Babylon, and then died a few weeks later. If my mother named me Ubgaru, I might rather be known as Darius too.

Some think that he is really a man named Gubaru, who was put over Babylon by Cyrus.

Some think he is Cyrus' son, Cambyses, who ruled Persia 530-522 b.c.

Actually, I'm not too worried about what the secular historians think.

After all, until a few years ago, the scholars thought that Belshazzar was just a made up person, since he too was not found recorded in secular history.

But sure enough, the archaeologists finally uncovered more treasures and found out that Belshazzar was actually the grandson of Nebuchadnezzar, and the son of Nabonidus, who was the son-in-law to Nebuchadnezzar.

Give it some more time, and I'm sure we'll some day find out that God's word is still true, and there was such a person as Darius.

:2 three presidents; of whom Daniel was first

Darius sets up a whole system of government, with lower level officials ("princes", or, satraps), who were overseen by higher officials, three presidents (chief, overseer)

:3 Daniel was preferred

Darius could tell that Daniel was different than the rest.

So he was put in charge of overseeing everything.

Keep in mind, Daniel is a man in his eighties now.

:4-9 Daniel's co-workers plot against him, Darius' decree

:4 sought to find occasion against Daniel

The jealousy is running wild in the workplace.

Daniel is put in charge of the government, and the other guys who wanted the job are out to destroy him so they can take his place.

It sounds like something out of the Orange County Register.

There is nothing new under the sun.

Don't be surprised when people try to stab you in the back, even when you've been kind to them.

Illustration

Charles L. Allen in The Miracle of Love writes of a fisherman friend who told him that one never needs a top for his crab basket. If one of the crabs starts to climb up the sides of the basket, the other crabs will reach up and pull it back down. Some people are a lot like crabs.

Don't be surprised when you hit hard times:

1Peter 4:12-16 AV Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: 13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. 14 If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy [are ye]; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or [as] a thief, or [as] an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men's matters. 16 Yet if [any man suffer] as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.

:4 he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him

I think that one of the biggest testimonies about Jesus that we can give at work is by the way that we do our work.

Sometimes we get to thinking that in order to reach everyone at work for the Lord, we have to be preaching to them all the time.

What you say is very important.

But they'll pay much closer attention if the way you're working is a witness that you serve the Great Invisible God.

Colossians 3:22-25 AV Servants, obey in all things [your] masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God: 23 And whatsoever ye do, do [it] heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; 24 Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. 25 But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.

The other guys might slack off when the boss is gone, but they'll notice that you aren't.

After all, your boss is always hanging around.

You don't really work for the people who sign your pay check, you're just on loan to them from your real employer, Jesus Christ.

:5 except we find it against him concerning the law of his God.

These guys are really determined to get rid of Daniel.

Their only hope of trying to get rid of Daniel was to try to find a way to use his own faith in God against him.

Illustration

It's very similar to what happened to another saint of God, Chrysostom:

When the great Chrysostom was arrested by the Roman emperor he sought to make the Greek Christian deny his faith. But he was unsuccessful. So the emperor discussed with his advisors what they could do to this prisoner.

"Shall I put him in a dungeon?" the emperor asked. "No," one of his counsellors replied, "For he'll be glad to go. He longs for the quietness where he can delight in the mercies of his God."

"Then he shall be executed!" said the emperor. "No," came the answer, "For he'll be glad to die. He declares that in the event of death, he will be in the presence of the Lord."

"Well, what shall we do then?" the ruler asked. The counselor replied, "There's only one thing that will cause him pain. Make him sin. He's afraid of nothing but sin."

Wouldn't that be awesome if that's what people were saying about us?

Oh that the people at work would see something in us that's different than what they have.

Oh that we would be different than them!

:7 ask a petition of any God or man ... save thee, O king

They're going to appeal to Darius' humbler side (yuk, yuk).

It's going to look like a good idea, especially if Darius is in the process of pulling together a new government, and trying to establish loyalty from the people toward the Medo-Persian empire.]

And to think! This idea came from the ground-level rulers themselves! It's got to work!

:8 according to the law of the Meses and Persians, which altereth not

Here's an important side note to keep in mind.

Under the Babylonian rule, the king was supreme.

Whatever he wanted to do, he could do.

Daniel had told Belshazzar about Nebuchadnezzar:

Daniel 5:19-AV And for the majesty that he gave him, all people, nations, and languages, trembled and feared before him: whom he would he slew; and whom he would he kept alive; and whom he would he set up; and whom he would he put down.

In a way, this is probably why he was called the "head of gold" in Daniel 2, because of the absoluteness of his power.

But under the Medes and Persians, it was the law that was supreme.

Even the king had to obey the laws of the Medes and the Persians.

Even a law that the king himself had written.

Illustration:

We see this in the book of Esther, where Ahasuarus has been persuaded to signing a law that allowed for the extermination of the Jews. (Esther 3)

Because he couldn't just eliminate the law, he got around it by writing another law, allowing the Jews to defend themselves and kill their enemies. (Esther 8)

This is going to be an important point in the development of the story.

This is why the king just couldn't change the law or forgive Daniel.

:10-17 Daniel continues praying, and is thrown to the lions

:10 When Daniel knew that the writing was signed

Daniel isn't going to be acting out of ignorance.

He knew what he was about to do was against the law.

But he did it anyway.

There are times when we have to break the laws of the land, when they contradict the laws of God.

Illustration:

Peter and the apostles had been arrested and charged to stop preaching about Jesus.

But they couldn't do that.

Jesus had commanded them to tell everyone about Him.

They disobeyed.

The council wanted to know why they disobeyed.

They responded:

Acts 5:29-AV Then Peter and the [other] apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.

It's not the normative.

We must usually be obedient to the laws of the land.

But there are times when we must disobey.

:10 his windows being open

I wonder why he just didn't close the windows.

Maybe he figured they'd get him sooner or later?

:10 toward Jerusalem

We've seen on Wednesday nights, that Solomon had asked God to use the temple in such a way, that as the Jews would pray facing toward it, no matter where they were, that God would hear their prayers.

1Kings 8:47-52 AV [Yet] if they shall bethink themselves in the land whither they were carried captives, and repent, and make supplication unto thee in the land of them that carried them captives, saying, We have sinned, and have done perversely, we have committed wickedness; 48 And [so] return unto thee with all their heart, and with all their soul, in the land of their enemies, which led them away captive, and pray unto thee toward their land, which thou gavest unto their fathers, the city which thou hast chosen, and the house which I have built for thy name: 49 Then hear thou their prayer and their supplication in heaven thy dwelling place, and maintain their cause, 50 And forgive thy people that have sinned against thee, and all their transgressions wherein they have transgressed against thee, and give them compassion before them who carried them captive, that they may have compassion on them: 51 For they [be] thy people, and thine inheritance, which thou broughtest forth out of Egypt, from the midst of the furnace of iron: 52 That thine eyes may be open unto the supplication of thy servant, and unto the supplication of thy people Israel, to hearken unto them in all that they call for unto thee.

Daniel is simply being obedient to the Word of God.

:10 he kneeled upon his knees

An interesting concept in prayer!

Humility.

Illustration:

Excuse me if I've shared this before:

Have you ever watched a bird sleeping on its perch and never falling off? How does it manage to do this?

The secret is the tendons of the bird's legs. They are so constructed that when the leg is bent at the knee, the claws contract and grip like a steel trap. The claws refuse to let go until the knees are unbent again. The bended knee gives the bird the ability to hold on to his perch so tightly.

From sleeping birds we can learn the secret of holding things which are most precious to us -- honest, purity, thoughtfulness, honor, character. That secret is the knee bent in prayer, seeking to get a firmer grip on those values which make life worth living. When we hold firmly to God in prayer, we can rest assured he will hold tightly to us.

three times a day

That sure is a lot of time to be spending in prayer.

Paul wrote:

 

 

 

:10 prayed, and gave thanks

I think it's important to keep the chronology of things in Daniel in order.

We just saw the overthrow of the Babylonian empire of Belshazzar in Daniel 5.

Darius has just been made ruler of Babylon.

We're still in the beginning of Darius' reign.

I think we can catch a glimpse of what Daniel is actually spending so much time praying for.

Daniel 9:1-5 AV In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, which was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans; 2 In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem. 3 And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes: 4 And I prayed unto the LORD my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments; 5 We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments:

Daniel goes on to pray a long prayer of confession and repentance (which we'll look at when we get to Daniel 9).

As he's praying, he's interrupted by the angel Gabriel, who is given a message for Daniel, which includes the famous "Seventy weeks" prophecy concerning the coming of the Messiah and the future tribulation period.

What a heavy thing to come out of Daniel's committment to praying.

Is it any wonder that the enemy wanted to do anything to stop Daniel from praying?

Look how important it is that we pray!

Think of all that we miss out on because we allow ourselves to get interrupted and sidetracked when it comes to prayer!

Illustration:

A well-known Christian personality of our century, Eric Liddell, the Olympic Champion runner who was the hero of the movie Chariots of Fire, had a remarkably different experience in prison in North China during World War II. His biographer quotes a woman who was in the camp at the time and with her husband knew Liddell well: What was his secret? Once I asked him, but I really knew already, for my husband was in his dormitory and shared the secret with him. Every morning about 6 am, with curtains tightly drawn to keep in the shining of our peanut oil lamp, lest the prowling sentries would think someone was trying to escape, he used to climb out of his top bunk, past the sleeping forms of his dormitory mates. Then, at the small Chinese table, the two men would sit close together with the light just enough to illumine their Bibles and notebooks. Silently they read, prayed, thought about what should be done. Eric was a man of prayer not only at set times -- though he did not like to miss a prayer meeting or communion service when such could be arranged. He talked to God all the time, naturally, as one can who enters the "School of Prayer" to learn this way of inner discipline. He seemed to have no weighty mental problems: his life was grounded in God, in faith and in trust.

 

 

:16 cast him into the den of lions

Keep in mind that Daniel isn't a young, strong Samson.

He's not going to go tear the lions apart limb from limb.

He is an old man, about eighty five years old.

 

:18-23 Daniel is delivered from the lions

 

:24 Daniel's enemies get a try at the lion's den

 

Daniel wasn't just spared because the lions weren't hungry

 

:25-28 Darius' new decree

:27 He delivereth and rescueth

2Peter 2:9-AV The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:

 

Lessons:

Committment to prayer

Daniel wasn't going to let anything stop his prayer time.

 

Persecution at work

Daniel's co-workers were out to get him.

They wanted his job.