“I issue a decree that every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel. For he is the living God and he endures forever, his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end. He rescues, and he saves; he performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.” Daniel 6:26-27
Did you grow up reading the Little Golden Books? That was how I learned my Bible stories. I remember shopping with my mom, and there would be the big kiosk filled with the Golden Books. Mom usually lets me get one but choosing just one was the hard part.
When my boys were small, and I got to read to them out of their Children’s Bibles, I realized how important these time-told stories of the Bible were to my life. How these stories shaped my perspective and created my values of how I expected God to respond to my heart. However, as an adult, I may occasionally hear a sermon or come across one of the stories in a study, but we don’t really learn them in the same way and with the same sense of wonder as if you read the stories time and time again.
So, today I am starting a series based on some of my favorite Golden Book Bible Stories. I will start with my favorite one, Daniel in the Lion’s Den.
A quick background: Daniel is in Babylon, but not by choice. He was brought here as a captive. However, God uses Daniel to serve in the Babylonian government for about 70 years. Currently, Daniel is an old man of about 80 and now serving under King Darius.
Have you ever had to be in a place where you didn’t feel like you belonged? How did God use you in that time? For me, that has often been in the workplace. I have had to conform to the leadership of the company, and honestly, it has been hard to maintain my devotion to God as the number one authority in my life while serving a pagan king.
Daniel is well liked by King Darius and being considered for top dog in the ruling of the Kingdom. As you may guess, there are others in the leadership helm who are jealous and unhappy about the way things are looking for themselves. So the plotting and devising begin.
How do you handle the situation when others are being recognized for their accomplishments? Do you ever have to fight back the ugly monster of jealousy? Have you ever had to deal with other people’s jealousy? I have been in a place of having to stand up for myself in the face of lies and deceit, of others plotting against me. It was hard for my peace-loving, not a fan of confrontation, heart to do that! It was hard to remain steadfast in my faith and believe that God would defend and protect me. But I am glad that I did hold on tightly to my faith because God closed the mouth of the lions!
If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31
King Darius is now tricked into signing a decree that says that anyone who prays to anyone other than him, King Darius, for the next 30 days will be tossed into the lion’s den. The other officials played upon King Darius’s pride to trick him into making such a decree. They intended to force Daniel to choose between his testimony, his integrity and being loyal to his King. They were betting on Daniel picking his God.
They say that our choices define us. What decisions have you made in the past that defined you as a child of God? What choices have you been faced with that were hard to make and still keep your integrity? I have heard the saying “sometimes you have to go along to get along.” I have also been in the situation of losing a job because I refused to “go along” with what I did not believe in.
So here we are, at the crossroads of faith and fear. What is Daniel going to do? He has always prayed three times a day for as long as he can remember. He was faced with obstacles in the past where his faith in God put him at odds with the pagan culture he lives in. Well, you probably won’t be surprised to know that he went home, kneeled down in front of his window and talked to God. He did not draw his curtains to try to hide what he was doing, it was business as usual. What he did do was he praised God, and he asked God for help.
What is your usual response when faced with a challenge to your faith? Are you fearful of the outcome? Is prayer your first response? For me, I would love to tell you that I always go to God in prayer first and wait for His defense. But most of the times I try to figure out the solution to the problem by myself first. It’s almost like I tell God, “don’t worry I got this”….ha, ha, ha, He must laugh! I hope I am getting better at this as I get older. I have seen an improvement, to be honest. The school of experience has been a wise teacher.
The tattle-tales, the green-eyed no gooders were ready to pounce on Daniel and immediately ran to the King to tell on Daniel. Now King Darius has realized that he was tricked. He hung his head in shame as his body shook with the waves of distress. But the decree stands. They now go and bring Daniel to the King, and he must follow thru and throw him into the den of hungry lions. As he is sealing the den shut with a large stone, he says to Daniel “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you.”
You are now in the den of lions, their mouths are drooling in anticipation of an exceptional dining experience. Your heart is pounding from the adrenalin rush, you can hear your blood pressure rising. What do you do? How do you face your lions? My past experience in the den of lions has been that God’s grace was far more significant than my faith. I recently experienced a situation where a person mouth, her lies, and her deceit, were literally kept shut and unable to bring about the destruction she had hoped for. I know that it was God that did this, he defended me in my time of trouble.
The king returned to his palace that night after putting Daniel into the den. He spent the night fasting and could not sleep. At first light, King Darius ran to the den and called out to Daniel to see if he had been rescued by his God. Daniel responded, “O king, live forever! My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, O king.”
From this, we can see that it is faith that can close the mouth of a lion. What do you need a lions faith for today? Whether it is a health problem, a financial situation, slander, persecution…God will stand with you. God can always shut the lion’s mouth, no matter what it is hungry for.
At the king’s command, the men who had falsely accused Daniel were brought in and thrown into the lions’ den, along with their wives and children. And before they reached the floor of the den, the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones. Then King Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations and men of every language throughout the land :
Ok, I do not remember that part being told in the Little Golden Book! Not only were the men thrown to their death, but their wives and children also. Their evil plan backfired on them, and justice was served.
So when we are down and upset, feeling like we are in a pit of lions, let’s remember the words of King Darius:
Heavenly Father, praise be your name in all the world. Your signs and wonders have gone before us, the stories of truth and justice that we read in your word, define our choices to follow you and put our trust in the only true God. Thank you for closing the mouths of lions in our life and forgive us for the times we lacked in our faith. Lord, hear my prayers. Amen