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Daniel and Darius the Mede - Thrown Into the Den of Lions: Daniel Series #7

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Daniel and Darius the Mede - Thrown Into The Den of Lions

Daniel Series #7

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Daniel and Darius the Mede - Thrown Into the Den of Lions: Daniel Series #7

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Chapter 6 is one of them most well known stories in the Bible - Daniel in the Lion's Den. The setting is the aftermath of the Persian conquest of Babylon. A new government was being formed... very likely within the first or second year 539-537 BC. Daniel was over 80 years old but God still had a few more things for him to do.

Transcript

Daniel & The Persians

Chapter 6 is one of them most well known stories in the Bible - Daniel in the Lion's Den. The setting is the aftermath of the Persian conquest of Babylon. A new government was being formed... very likely within the first or second year 539-537 BC. Daniel was over 80 years old but God still had a  few more things for him to do.

The kingdom of Persia was really the Medes and Persians, the Persians were the dominant partner. Darius is identified as a Mede, not a Persian:

  1. Darius could be a subordinate of Cyrus who as appointed over Babylon, or
  2. Darius could be a secondary name of Cyrus himself signifying him as the head honcho over both Medes and Persians.

Daniel 6:1-5 Daniel 6:1-5 [1] It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom an hundred and twenty princes, which should be over the whole kingdom; [2] And over these three presidents; of whom Daniel was first: that the princes might give accounts to them, and the king should have no damage. [3] Then this Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king thought to set him over the whole realm. [4] Then the presidents and princes sought to find occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find none occasion nor fault; for as much as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him. [5] Then said these men, We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God.
American King James Version×
 The other administrators were jealous of Daniel… “what! … that guy over us” … "let's find something in his religion that conflicts with our laws... and force Daniel to either obey God or obey the king". By what they say we can make the following assumptions:

  1. Daniel's religious convictions and behavior were public knowledge, he was not hiding his spiritual life hoping no one would notice.
  2. They  assumed he would choose to obey YHWH over Darius and then they would get him. So, his willingness to suffer loss for the sake of God was known.

Daniel 6:6-9 Daniel 6:6-9 [6] Then these presidents and princes assembled together to the king, and said thus to him, King Darius, live for ever. [7] All the presidents of the kingdom, the governors, and the princes, the counsellors, and the captains, have consulted together to establish a royal statute, and to make a firm decree, that whoever shall ask a petition of any God or man for thirty days, save of you, O king, he shall be cast into the den of lions. [8] Now, O king, establish the decree, and sign the writing, that it be not changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which alters not. [9] Why king Darius signed the writing and the decree.
American King James Version×
 Persians did not consider their kings to be deities. So this probably means that only Darius should act as mediator to the gods... rather than people going directly to their god.

The Persians were tolerant and encouraging of the different nations in the empire worshiping their own Gods. They just wanted to be sure it all happened under the umbrella of the Persian government. The quest for one world government is nothing new… that was Babylon’s dream, Persia’s dream, the Hellenic Greeks dream… and the Romans dream… it lives on.

Daniel 6:10-1 Daniel 6:10-1
American King James Version×
1 Daniel specifically defies a law of the land Romans 13:1-2 Romans 13:1-2 [1] Let every soul be subject to the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. [2] Whoever therefore resists the power, resists the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.
American King James Version×
, Acts 5:29 Acts 5:29Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.
American King James Version×
.

We usually think of this rejecting government regulations that order us to either disregard God's laws, or to disobey them. However, Daniel's rejection of this government regulation is not a matter of transgression of a law... it is about the performance of what is pleasing to God.

Daniel could have reasoned his way out of this... "there is not specific law about prayer, so perhaps I'll just take a break for the next month until it all blows over"... but he did not!

Trapped By Legalism Without Mercy

Daniel 6:12-16 Daniel 6:12-16 [12] Then they came near, and spoke before the king concerning the king's decree; Have you not signed a decree, that every man that shall ask a petition of any God or man within thirty days, save of you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions? The king answered and said, The thing is true, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which alters not. [13] Then answered they and said before the king, That Daniel, which is of the children of the captivity of Judah, regards not you, O king, nor the decree that you have signed, but makes his petition three times a day. [14] Then the king, when he heard these words, was sore displeased with himself, and set his heart on Daniel to deliver him: and he labored till the going down of the sun to deliver him. [15] Then these men assembled to the king, and said to the king, Know, O king, that the law of the Medes and Persians is, That no decree nor statute which the king establishes may be changed. [16] Then the king commanded, and they brought Daniel, and cast him into the den of lions. Now the king spoke and said to Daniel, Your God whom you serve continually, he will deliver you.
American King James Version×
 Darius liked Daniel but he's caught in a legal trap. He desperately looks for some legal loophole but he cannot. The administrators and satraps remind him of the Persian legal philosophy, the laws of the Medes and Persians cannot be altered or passed over.

  • On one hand this approach looks good. No person is considered above the law. The law cannot be changed by personal whim even by the king. Basic “rule of law” thinking.
  • On the other hand it shows the weakness of ruling with a rod or iron... but not having mercy.

We often think of our training to serve with Christ during his millennial rule as carefully learning God's laws and demonstrating faithfulness to His law. But, God says in no uncertain terms "I desire mercy" James 2:12-13 James 2:12-13 [12] So speak you, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty. [13] For he shall have judgment without mercy, that has showed no mercy; and mercy rejoices against judgment.
American King James Version×
. His desire is that you learn to judge based on the right principles of law... but that you temper it with mercy...

Like the Medes and Persians God’s law cannot simply be ignored, or passed over because of feelings… Darius liked Daniel but he was trapped. But God has a way to accomplish both goals. Through the life death and resurrection of Jesus Christ

  1. the law is upheld/penalty for sin is paid - God is righteous
  2. mercy is applied/ God can act graciously toward you - God is merciful
  3. you live - God gives life.

Legal Protection For Jewish Exiles

Daniel 6:17-28 Daniel 6:17-28 [17] And a stone was brought, and laid on the mouth of the den; and the king sealed it with his own signet, and with the signet of his lords; that the purpose might not be changed concerning Daniel. [18] Then the king went to his palace, and passed the night fasting: neither were instruments of music brought before him: and his sleep went from him. [19] Then the king arose very early in the morning, and went in haste to the den of lions. [20] And when he came to the den, he cried with a lamentable voice to Daniel: and the king spoke and said to Daniel, O Daniel, servant of the living God, is your God, whom you serve continually, able to deliver you from the lions? [21] Then said Daniel to the king, O king, live for ever. [22] My God has sent his angel, and has shut the lions' mouths, that they have not hurt me: for as much as before him innocence was found in me; and also before you, O king, have I done no hurt. [23] Then was the king exceedingly glad for him, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no manner of hurt was found on him, because he believed in his God. [24] And the king commanded, and they brought those men which had accused Daniel, and they cast them into the den of lions, them, their children, and their wives; and the lions had the mastery of them, and broke all their bones in pieces or ever they came at the bottom of the den. [25] Then king Darius wrote to all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied to you. [26] I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he is the living God, and steadfast for ever, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be even to the end. [27] He delivers and rescues, and he works signs and wonders in heaven and in earth, who has delivered Daniel from the power of the lions. [28] So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian.
American King James Version×
 Notice that Darius issues a decree giving legal protection for all those who worship YHWH the God of Daniel and of the Jewish people. Nebuchadnazzer of Babylon had issued a similar decree protecting religious observances of the worshipers of YHWH. But Babylon was gone now... there was a new boss in town... with new laws... with no remembrance of the laws of Babylon or why they were enacted. Through Daniel, the true and living God maneuvered Darius into encoding the same religious protections.

This incident, the last record of Daniel's exploits in the courts of the kings sets the stage for what is to come. The Persian kings have a good relationship with the Jewish people moving forward. They seem very positive towards the Jews. Through Persia YHWH will return the exiles to the land as prophesied… and at the appointed time.

Ezra 1:1-4 Ezra 1:1-4 [1] Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying, [2] Thus said Cyrus king of Persia, The LORD God of heaven has given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he has charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. [3] Who is there among you of all his people? his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the LORD God of Israel, (he is the God,) which is in Jerusalem. [4] And whoever remains in any place where he sojournes, let the men of his place help him with silver, and with gold, and with goods, and with beasts, beside the freewill offering for the house of God that is in Jerusalem.
American King James Version×
 as prophesied by Isaiah the king that topples Babylon will set in motion the restoration of the exiles to the promised land and the rebuilding of Jerusalem.

Ezra 1:7 Ezra 1:7Also Cyrus the king brought forth the vessels of the house of the LORD, which Nebuchadnezzar had brought forth out of Jerusalem, and had put them in the house of his gods;
American King James Version×
 Cyrus returns the articles of the temple to Jerusalem... the same drinking vessels and other items Belshazzar has used to insult and blaspheme YHWH.