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Daniel and the Den

July 10, 2012

“…Daniel, O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions?” – Daniel 6:20

The Book of Daniel (Hebrew: ‘דָּנִיֵּאל’ “Daniyyel”, or “God is my Judge”) is well known for its records of the of apocalyptic visions of the prophet, second only perhaps to Revelations itself. Daniel’s prophecies were – naturally – startlingly precise, describing the four great ‘World Empires’ that would rise – and fall – in the six centuries between his day and the coming of Christ: Babylonian, Persian, Greek, and Roman. The prophecies were so accurate, in fact, that – according to the Jewish scholar Josephus – during Alexander the Great’s conquest and dominion of the Levant in the 4th century BC (over two centuries after Daniel’s death), the portion of the Book depicting the visions of the conquering Greek king were shown to the young Alexander, prompting him to spare Jerusalem from destruction; a fate many contemporary cities in Palestine did not share.

Yet prophecies aside, the Book is just as famous for its stories of the prophet and his place and service in the royal courts of both Babylon and Persia.

Daniel was a young man when he and his three friends (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) were exiled with the first wave of Jewish captives to Babylon. Of noble blood, handsome, and intelligent, the young Daniel became – like Joseph to Pharaoh many years before – an indispensable counselor to the king by his interpretations of dreams. He was a devoted, high ranking official, and invaluable to the rule of first the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar, and later to the Persians after they had conquered Babylon. It was during the reign of Darius the Mede, however, when the prophet’s fellow counselors and governors (called satraps), manipulated the king into a decree that forbid the offering of petitions or prayers to any man or deity save Darius himself for a period of thirty days. The satraps had feared Daniel’s excellence, as Darius had begun to consider setting the now elderly Jew over the whole of the kingdom.

Daniel, however, was devoted to his God. As was his habit, he would go to his home, open a window toward Jerusalem – regardless of who saw him, and kneel down to pray. The satrap conspirators lay in hiding, and upon discovering his prayers, they seized him and presented him to the king. Darius, though reluctant, consented to throw Daniel into the lion’s den, as he believed he was bound by the law to enforce the decree. They sealed the den with a large stone, which the king and counselors then sealed with their signet rings. “Now the king spake and said unto Daniel, Thy God whom thou servest continually, He will deliver thee,” (Dan. 6:16).

The night passed and morning came, and the king and his men returned to the den, and unsealed the stone. The king, lamenting, cried out for Daniel, hoping that he had survived the ordeal; that his Hebrew God had delivered him. No doubt to the surprise of all assembled, Daniel responded, “O king, live forever. My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me…” (Dan. 6:21-22).

Because this is the power of the Spirit of the Lord: it cannot be condemned, suppressed, restrained, or overcome. The power of God is the power of deliverance. Daniel, despite royal decree, would not turn away from his God; and in his hour of need, God remembered, and did not turn away from him.

It’s easy, in the face of adversity, to abandon God when to stand for Him is inconvenient or unpleasant; and yet still call out in our own hour of need for His help…when we find that we have no alternative. The truth is that, if we can be but faithful, He will never abandon us: He will deliver us from the lion’s den every time, without fail…if we can only bring ourselves to trust in Him to do so. “And the Lord shall help them, and deliver them: He shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them, because they trust in Him.” (Psalm 37:40)

Because I am sure that Daniel, as he was led to and thrown into that den, was confident that his God, in whom he had always trusted and always served, would not forsake him in that perilous hour. It seems, from personal experience, that the more you serve God, and the more you learn about Him, the more you begin to understand just how much He loves and treasures us – His children. His Word is filled with promises of protection, prosperity, health, and victory: and the Lord is not a liar, and His promises are not empty. Whatever bondage or crisis we are in the midst of, whatever den of lions we are cast in to, if we can only bring ourselves to believe in His mercy and grace, and to stay true to Him, than we can be delivered. “They cried unto Thee, and were delivered: they trusted in Thee, and were not confounded.” (Psalm 22:5)

And remember today that our ultimate deliverance came in the form of our Lord Jesus Christ; if you do not know Him, then today can be your day of salvation…your day of deliverance; He waits only for your call. Or perhaps you are just going through a rough time, feeling lost, alone, and surrounded by lions in the dark: if this is the case, then from this too, you can be delivered. Our cries to God do not go unheard or unheeded; for you are precious to Him, and He waits only for your call. If we seek the Lord, we will always find him:  the answer to the king’s question at the beginning of this article is ‘yes’; God can indeed deliver us from the den…for if He can deliver us from sin, then He can deliver us from anything. “I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears…This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles,” (Psalm 34:4,6). Amen.

 

Be blessed,

Joshua

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