Daniel 6

Daniel 6
David Groendyk

The nation of Babylon has fallen, and the kingdom of Media and Persia has now taken over. Darius the Mede is now in charge. And this ruler, as opposed to Nebuchadnezzar or Belshazzar, seems to be more naturally sympathetic and tolerant towards Daniel and his God, and yet Daniel finds himself in a life-threatening situation, just like his three friends did in chapter 3.

As Daniel is rising in power and fame and winning over Darius, his fellow high officials seem to be jealous of his success and conspire against him. However, despite undertaking a thorough investigation into Daniel’s life, they can’t find a single fault against him. He’s been loyal to the king in every respect, he’s never broken any laws, he hasn’t received any illegal kickbacks, and he’s been honest in all his dealings. Truly, Daniel is a model for how Christians ought to “adorn the gospel” in the way he deals with an ungodly government. No one can bring any charge against him! Even these despicable blackmailers can’t find anything to twist to make it look like he’s a disloyal citizen of the kingdom. Well, if these blackmailers can’t get at Daniel through his civil life, they’ll have to trap him in his religious life. They know Daniel’s unwavering commitment to God, so they plot to get the king to sign a decree that no one can pray or make a petition to any god or man except Darius for a full month. For Darius, this seems good. He’s probably not thinking in religious terms, but he’s seeing this as an opportunity to unite the people of his kingdom after his hostile takeover. But the law of unintended consequences always holds true. He doesn’t expect Daniel to become his first victim.

This brings out a couple applications. First, the two parts of Daniel’s character highlighted early in this story are his obedience/honesty in his civil life and his commitment to worship and pray to God in his religious life. Daniel’s co-workers had been watching his every civil, political, and religious move. And though we don’t know what Daniel’s co-workers thought about Daniel’s God (although we can probably assume it wasn’t anything good), the point is that unbelievers are always watching the way Christians live. And the way we live dramatically impacts what unbelievers think of the gospel. Before an unbeliever ever hears a word about Jesus Christ, your actions will make him say either, “Wow, is that what Christians are all about? No, thanks…” or “Wow, is that Christianity? Tell me more…” Is that something you’ve thought about? If an unbeliever simply watched you for a week, would they be drawn to Christianity or turned off by it? Do people see that you love your God and love to spend time with him? Do they see that you love humanity and seek its good?

On the other hand, second, don’t be surprised when non-Christians use your own religion against you. I don’t think Daniel’s co-workers necessarily hated him because of the God he worshiped, but they were very quick to use it against him. Maybe you have a neighbor that exploits your generosity. Maybe your boss intentionally schedules you to work on Sunday, knowing you won’t come in. There are many ways non-Christians use our own religion to take advantage of us. But despite the threat, Daniel remains committed to his God. He doesn’t go into hiding or cut back in his prayer hours, but he continues worshiping and praying like normal, because he knows that to disobey God is far more dangerous than to disobey man. He continues to worship God knowing that the punishment would be death.

What follows is one of the most famous stories in the Bible. Darius throws Daniel to the lions. It’s interesting that, even though Darius does this with tears, he is deliberately upholding the law of men rather than the law of God by going through with Daniel’s punishment. He tries his best to rescue Daniel from the punishment (v. 14), but he can’t do anything. But after one long, sleepless night, Darius rushes to the den, and he finds Daniel alive and well. The Lord God Almighty is the one great deliverer and rescuer (v. 27)!

Here’s the pattern we’ve seen over and over in Daniel: man has no power; God is the only powerful one. Man cannot interpret dreams and visions, man does not rule everlastingly, man cannot save from impending doom; but God knows all things, God’s kingdom never ends, and God saves from certain death. God reigns! Amen and amen! And the only way anyone has a hope of prospering (ultimately) is if they submit themselves to God’s kingship. We may face a hostile environment, but God is on the throne, and he will see to it that all things work together for our good.