Daniel 020: We Serve a Risen Savior

Daniel 020: We Serve a Risen Savior
Daniel 6:18-28 • Dr. Andy Woods • April 16, 2017 • Daniel


Andy Woods                                                                                                                                                                                                                                We Serve A Risen Savior                                                                                                                                                                                                      Daniel 6:18-28   Lesson 20

Good morning everybody.  Happy Resurrection Day to you; the Lord has risen, hallelujah.  If we could take our Bibles and open them to the book of Daniel, chapter 6, verse 18, looking together this morning at verses 18-28.  The title of our message this morning is We Serve a Risen and Living Savior; We Serve a Living and Risen Savior.   You say Daniel 6 on Resurrection Sunday, did you not get the memo?  Well generally I like to cease with the verse by verse teaching on special occasions but this time I really didn’t have to because as you’ll see, moving into Daniel 6, continuing through Daniel 6 there’s a direct tie-in to both the idea that Jesus is risen and living.

The same power of God that supernaturally protected Daniel in the lion’s den is the same power of God that supernaturally rose Jesus from the grave which is the exact same power of God that’s available to you as I speak, as you go through life’s emergencies and difficulties, Daniel here looking death in the face and yet trusting the power of God in the midst of it.

Daniel, of course, is an interesting book; we’re in that section, chapters 2-7, which is, as we’ve pointed out many times, is organized like a chiasm.  Chapter 2 and chapter 7, the parallels are there.  The information in chapter 3, as we’re seeing is sort of restated in chapter 6, and the same with chapters 4 and 5.

We’re in that section where there is a divine rescue operation in place.  Just like there was a divine rescue operation helping Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego the other end of that chiastic structure as they were protected by God in the flaming fiery furnace, Daniel is protected by God as an older man at perhaps one of the most vulnerable times in his life.

The empire that’s in place, as we have talked about, is the empire of Persia; they come to power in Daniel 6.  The date of these events, as we have indicated, would be not too long after the hand­writing on the wall chapter which took place in 539 B.C., meaning that Daniel is a very old infirm frail weak man at this time in his life.  It’s interesting that God sent him, perhaps into his most severe trial at perhaps what could be described as the most vulnerable or weak time in the life of Daniel.  And yet those are the times where God shows up; these are the times where God demonstrates His faithfulness to us.   When we are weak He is what?  Strong.  And you might be in that kind of time today in your life as I speak, even in our own congregation there are many people that are going through very difficult times as I speak.  And yet those are the times to really watch for the hand of God; God is faithful even when we are faithless.  So let’s see this play out in the life of Daniel.

We have seen the position of Daniel, what got him into this mess.  He was prosperous, successful, being promoted; that’s the position of Daniel, to such an extent that there is orchestrated against Daniel a plot.  His co-workers, co-laborers there in Persia did not like the idea that Daniel was getting ahead and they weren’t and so they develop a plot against him.  They recognize that they can’t bring him down simply because of him doing something wrong; this man was spotless in everything he did.  But they realized that to bring him down they had to pass a law, which can’t be revoked, involving Daniel’s God.  They knew Daniel was a man of prayer and they developed a plot to put a law into place which cannot be revoked or abolished under Persian law (as we have talked about) that public prayer is illegal.  Of course Daniel, what did he do here in part 3?  He immediately starts to pray, verses 10-11.  [Daniel 6:10-11, “Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. [11] Then these men went as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help.”]

And once that plot is hatched, the trap is sprung, Daniel looks like he is entrapped here as now the prosecution of Daniel begins and he is found guilty and he is therefore presented, verses 16-17, into the lion’s den.  [Daniel 6:16-17, “So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions’ den. The king said to Daniel, ‘May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!’  [17] A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the rings of his nobles so that nothing would be changed in regard to Daniel.”]

Think about that; a man who is doing nothing but right, nothing but good, a man who had no lifestyle in which an accusation can be raised against him, a man who is serving the Lord finally finds himself at the most difficult time in his life, when he should have been enjoying his s unset years, looking at these ravenous beasts in the lion’s den, being put into that lion’s den, not because of circumstances of his own making but because of his godliness.  See those are the trials that are difficult for us; we, many times suffer because we bring it on ourselves.  But other times we suffer, not because we have brought it upon ourselves but because we’re doing the right thing.  God, we discover, as we suffer for doing the right thing is a tremendous vindicator of His children.

And that moves us into where we’re going to focus our time this morning, the supernatural protection of Daniel. Notice, if you will, Daniel 6:18, it says, “The king” that would be the Persian King Darius, “went off to his palace and spent the night fasting, and no entertainment was brought before him; and his sleep fled from him.”  Everything we know about this man, Darius, this Persian king who had Daniel thrown into the lion’s den, we know that this man, Darius, was a good king.  It was never his intention to harm Daniel.  In fact, you might remember we made reference to this last week back in verse 14, where Darius when he learned of this charge that had been brought against Daniel applied himself, exerted himself, even to sunset trying to rescue him.  [Daniel 6:14, “Then, as soon as the king heard this statement, he was deeply distressed and set his mind on delivering Daniel; and even until sunset he kept exerting himself to rescue him.”]

But now this plot, and Darius has been largely a victim in this plot, he’s being used to pass this law by jealous co-workers of Daniel, Darius realizes that he has been played for the fool and he himself is in anguish and tries to do what he can to see that Daniel would not be harmed in this lion’s den or even thrown into the lion’s den, but finally the situation is out of control.  Darius can’t help Daniel; Daniel’s friends can’t help Daniel.  The only thing he’s left to rely upon is who?  God!  And this is when God begins to show up in our lives.

God, as I’ve said before, intentionally (I believe) places us in circumstances or situations where from the human point of view there’s no way out.  We’ve tried this path and it hasn’t worked; that path and it hasn’t worked, this strategy and it hasn’t worked, we’re in this ditch, we’re in this hole, and we have no one to rely upon but God, and God says to us this a scenario of My own making because unless I had put you in this circumstance you would not have the opportunity to see my awesome hand.

And notice that as day breaks the king begins to make an inquiry in verses 19-20.  It says, “Then the king arose at dawn,” sort of like the women that went to the tomb seeking to find out what happened to Jesus.  Is this Jesus alive like He said or is He dead?  Is He still in the tomb?  Most of them going to the tomb never anticipated what they saw—the empty tomb.  Darius is sort of the same here, making an inquiry at dawn, expecting Daniel to have been devoured that night by these ravenous lions.

Verse 19 says, “Then the king arose at dawn, at the break of day, and went in haste to the lions’ den. [20] When he had come near the den to Daniel, he cried out with a troubled voice.”  See Darius himself is doubting, “a troubled voice” a shaky voice, “ The king spoke and said to Daniel, ‘Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you constantly serve, been able to deliver you from the lions’?”   It is interesting that when you study this statement here in verse 20, Darius makes reference to the fact that Daniel was perpetually serving God, continually serving God.  This was part of his habit, this was part of his lifestyle.  This was something that even the unsaved king could recognize as part of Daniel’s character.

And we have to ask ourselves why was Daniel constantly serving God?  The answer is also in verse 20.  The “God, whom you constantly” backing up a little bit, is “the living God,” He is not the God of yesterday, He is not just the God of tomorrow, He is the God that is in perpetual existence.  He is the God that Daniel was in perpetual relationship with and because this God was alive, because this God was living, because this God never took a vacation, or went away, Daniel had a lifestyle where he was perpetually serving God.

See a lot of people, you look at their lifestyle you would think that God is dead.  For example, we have in many churches today what we would call “Chreasters,” they call them Chreasters because they show up on Christmas and they show up on Easter, and then you start to wonder, well is God not alive during those two holidays?  I mean He was alive, you recognize at His birth, Christmas, and He was alive, you recognize at His resurrection, Easter, so people show up at church on two occasions.  But what about the living God that’s always active in between those two days?  Does God ever cease to exist?

So a lot of people, when you look at their habits you would think that God is dead except for two times a year.  But not so Daniel, you look at his life, you look at his perpetual service to God, relationship to God, this was a man who believed that God is not the God just of yesterday, not just the God of tomorrow but the right now God.  Let me ask  you a question; when people look at your life as a Christian to they see a living God or a God that just did something in the past and will do something in the future.  It’s amazing the theology that his man, Darius, was learning simply by studying the life of Daniel.

The second thing is a trite one but it’s a true one: you may be the only Bible someone ever reads.   A lot of people would never read a Bible, they would never darken the door of a church and yet they can see the life of God through looking at your life as one of His children.  Do they see in you the living God?  This is what King Darius saw in Daniel.

When we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ on Resurrection Sunday morning we are acknowledging that Jesus is not just someone who died on a cross 2,000 years ago.  He’s not someone that just was buried but He is someone that rose from the dead.  He is the living God!  And as the living God He is living right now, as I speak.  Revelation 9:20 contrasts the true God with the god of idols.  What makes God different than the false gods?  The false gods can neither see nor hear nor walk.  [Revelation 9:20, “The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, so as not to worship demons, and the idols of gold and of silver and of brass and of stone and of wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk;”]  And yet Jesus Christ, because of His resurrection from the dead and His seat (as I speak) at the right hand of the Father is the God who hears, He is the God who listens, He is the God who is active.  And if we understand that people see that differently in our lives as we perpetually serve Him, pray to Him, surrender to Him.

I’m reminded of what the angels said to the women that came to the tomb that Sunday morning thinking to find a dead Christ.  Luke 24:5 says, “the women were terrified” at these angels, “and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, ‘Why do you seek the living One among the dead?’”  It’s a rebuke,  you’re seeking Him who is alive amongst the dead.  And consequently we are to live our lives every single day not as if God is dead but as if He is alive.

So the king here makes an inquiry in verse 19 and 20.  I went and saw the movie by Mel Gibson that came out years ago; did you all have a chance to see that?  An interesting movie, the title of it is The Passion of the Christ, on social media and on the internet there were a lot of things said about the movie that were good and lots of criticism and I could go into great detail about the things I liked and the things I didn’t like, but there is one thing about that movie that disturbed me.  What disturbed me is the attention that the movie gave in terms of time to the physical ordeal of Jesus Christ; His crucifixion, Him being beaten beyond recognition by the Roman soldiers and there was so much energy and effort spent on the physical ordeal that Jesus Christ went through on our behalf and it’s almost like the resurrection itself, in that movie, was sort of an afterthought.  It was just something brought up very casually at the end… oh by the way, Jesus rose from the dead kind of thing; kind of a footnote to the whole ordeal of Christ.

And I’m not in the movie critic business, I’m just sharing with you something personally that sort of bothered my about the whole thing, although we could talk about many good things in that movie.  But it gave the impression that the whole work of Jesus Christ related to what He did for us on the cross.  May I just say to you that is not the biblical focus at all; I’m not here to minimize the cross, I’m not here to mitigate the cross.  Obviously when Jesus died on that cross 2,000 years ago He stood between us and the wrath of a Holy God.  It was VERY significant what He did.  But we are not here simply serving a dead Savior who was buried; we are here serving a Savior that bodily rose from the dead. That’s the focus. And because He bodily rose from the dead He was exactly who He claimed to be and consequently we today look at this man, Jesus Christ not as some museum relic, some act of history, but as the living God.

In fact, in the book of Hebrews, chapter 7 and verse 25 this is what it says of Jesus in His position right now.  It says, “Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.”  You’ll notice the word “forever.”  He is the “forever God.”  Notice this expression, He “lives to make intercession.”  If someone says I live for the weekend it means their whole life revolves around the weekend.  I live for skiing—my whole life revolves around skiing.  Do you live to eat or eat to live?  The answer that question depends on the right understanding of food and why God gave food.

But you’ll notice what Jesus lives for; Jesus lives to perpetually make intercession for us.  That’s why He exists; that’s what His motivation is.  That is the sum total of His life.  “Lives” there, the way it’s described is in the present tense, it’s something that’s ongoing, we are not here serving a deceased savior, a dead savior, just a crucified savior, a buried savior but a Living Savior who conquered the grave through His resurrection and today stands in perpetual relationship with us as a living God.  That’s what Daniel’s life emulated here.

And that’s really what the king is trying to figure out: Daniel, you went into the lion’s den, is  your God alive or not?  And that’s the great question of resurrection Sunday morning.  Yes, Jesus was crucified, He said He’d rise from the dead; is He alive or is He not alive?  The women at the tomb that day (and others) King Darius, sort of had a suspicion that maybe this God died, maybe this God is not alive but as we see in the resurrection story and as we see with the miracle of God that’s about to happen here in Daniel 6 is that God is the God of the living; He is alive, He is active, He changes not, He is forevermore.

There never was a time in which Jesus did not exist and consequently there never will be a time in history when He doesn’t exist.  There’s a never a time in history where you pray to Him and He’s not there.  Sometimes we think He’s’ not there because He doesn’t answer our prayer requests the way we as mere humans think He should but that doesn’t change the fact that He’s not there.  He answers prayers that are in accordance with His will.

Notice if you will verses 21-22 as Daniel responds to this inquiry, is your God alive or not?  Verse 21, “Then Daniel spoke to the king, ‘O king, live forever!’”  Notice the respect that Daniel continues to have towards Darius even though Darius was the instrument (ultimately, although against his will) Darius was the instrument that threw Daniel into the lion’s den.  Verse 22, “My God,” notice the personal relationship that Daniel has with this living God, He’s not just an idol, He’s not just a relic, He’s’ not just a historical footnote, He is “My God.”  “My God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths and they have not harmed me, inasmuch as I was found innocent before Him; and also toward you, O king, I have committed no crime.”

I know, Daniel says, that when I was put into this circumstance and charged against my will that God would have to somehow, some way vindicate me.  I didn’t know how things were going to turn out but I trusted my circumstances to Him and this God who is living, this God whom I perpetually serve, He has come through.

You know the same thing, going to the opposite end of the chiasm, remember chapter 6 lines up with chapter 3, the exact same thing happened to Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego.  You might remember Daniel 3:25.  Nebuchadnezzar had thrown these three youths into this fiery furnace, and then Nehemiah said “‘Look! I see four men loosed and walking about in the midst of the fire without harm, and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods!’”  Daniel 3:28 says, “…Nebuchadnezzar responded and said, ‘Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, who has sent His angel and delivered His servants who put their trust in Him….”

Was it an angel that bailed out Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego sent by God?  Was it Jesus Christ Himself?  I honestly say I don’t know the answer; I don’t know if it really matters to me.  What matters is God is alive and He chose to help these three Hebrew youths out through His method, His way of doing things and consequently their lives were spared.  It was a complete and total miracle.

Over in Daniel 3:27 it says this, “The satraps, the prefects, the governors and the king’s high officials gathered around and saw in regard to these men that the fire had no effect on the bodies of these men nor was the hair of their head singed, nor were their trousers damaged, nor had the smell of fire even come upon them.”  What happened in Daniel 3 was a complete and total divine rescue operation.  That is exactly what we’re seeing here in verse 23.

Notice, if you will, Daniel 6:23, “Then the king was very pleased and gave orders for Daniel to be taken up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den” look at this, just like Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, think of an older man being thrown into this circumstance by circumstances that he himself didn’t create other than being godly, “so Daniel was taken u out of the den and no injury whatever was found on him, [because he had trusted in his God].”  What is Daniel 3?  It is a complete and total divine rescue operation.  What is Daniel 6? It is a complete and total divine rescue operation.

Daniel probably up to this time Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego up to the time they were thrown into the furnace probably knew something about the faithfulness of God.  They could pass a Sunday School test about the faithfulness of God.  The faithfulness of God was something they grasped intellectually but when you actually go into the fire yourself experientially, when you actually go into the lion’s den yourself experientially, and God is faithful, and God helps you out and God gives you grace in the midst of that difficulty, let me tell you something, it’s no longer an exercise in intellect. It’s no longer a theology lesson; this becomes relational.  This becomes personal, this becomes incarnational.  This is the kind of depth that God is seeking to build in the lives of His children as they watch His faithful hand over and over again.  And yet how can God demonstrate His faithfulness to us unless we are placed by divine providence in a circumstance where we nothing to trust in but Him.  That’s a different way of looking at your current circumstances, health problems, family problems, relational problems, whatever they may be.

You don’t know what God is going to do in that; you don’t know what grace He’s going to give you to go through that.  You don’t know when and under what circumstance the rescue will occur; you don’t even know if the rescue will occur.  But I can guarantee you this much… I can’t guarantee you the results but I can guarantee you this much, you will sense the faithfulness of God through it as you become open to Him.  You’ll sense His leading, you’ll sense His promptings, you will sense what the Apostle Paul spoke of when he wrote about this and recorded the words about his thorn in the flesh, pleading three times for God to take away the thorn in the flesh.  You remember God’s answer, recorded by Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:8-9, “My grace is” what? “sufficient for you.”             [2 Corinthians 12:8-9, “Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. [9] And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.”]

That’s what you start to sense in the valleys, in the lion’s den, in the fiery furnace.  It’s not something that’s merely a theological, intellectual exercise anymore; at this point it becomes incarnational; it becomes personal.  So in these two cases God performed an extraordinary rescue operation.  Don’t let the rest of verse 27 escape you, “because he” what’s Daniel, “had” what? “trusted,” did somebody say believe in their version… “trusted” or “believed in his God.”

It’s hard for me to stress enough that word “trusted” there at the end of verse 27.  God put Daniel in a circumstance where he had to exercise faith and trust.  I don’t know if you caught the verse I read earlier concerning Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, in Daniel 3:28, the opposite end of the chiasm we have the same idea, “Nebuchadnezzar responded and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, who has sent His angel and delivered His servants who put their trust” there’s the word again, “in Him, [violating the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies so as not to serve or worship any god except their own God.]”

Let me tell you something about faith; faith is a lot like a muscle in your body and we know what happens to muscles in the body when they’re not used; if you don’t use it you what?  You lose it, it becomes flabby, it loses strength.  Muscles on the body gain strength the more they are used.  Faith is the exact same way.  I don’t naturally trust God; my natural inclination is try to solve my own problems and God says I have a remedy for that, I’ll put you in a circumstance you can’t resolve, that way you (in a certain sense) are forced to trust in Me, and as you are being forced to trust in Me what is happening to that faith muscle that I so value?  You know the Bible says “without faith it is” what? “impossible to please God.”  [Hebrews 11:6]  In other words, faith is a big deal to God.  And as we’re in these circumstances that we can’t figure our way out of, buy our way out of, talk our way out of, what is being strengthened is that faith muscle which his so critical to the walk with God.

In fact, that word “trust” is the difference between heaven and hell.  Do we realize that?  What does trust mean?  It means to believe; believe means to be persuaded of, to have confidence in, yielding trust and reliance, it’s used 99 times in John’s evangelistic treatise called The Gospel of John, to the unsaved.  If a person never trusts in the promises of Jesus Christ they are not a Christian.  Jesus, in John 11:25-27 relative to His own resurrection that was imminent, said this: “Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes” or trusts “in Me will live even if he dies, [26] and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?’  [27] She said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world.”’  Jesus here is speaking to Martha, He talks about His resurrection, He doesn’t just say okay, end of theology lesson, class dismissed.  He specifically uses His resurrection as an invitation to get her to believe (or trust) in Him.

I’ve used this illustration many, many times, but there is a wide difference between intellectually understanding things about Jesus Christ and actually trusting Him.  I know atheists who can rattle off all kinds of data and information about Jesus Christ, but they are on their way to hell, just like any other person who has never put their personal trust in Jesus Christ.  The example I’ve used many times is Charles Blondin, who was known for his ability to walk across a tightrope suspended over Niagara Falls, pushing a wheelbarrow.  Now if this artistry is correct he was actually blindfolded when he did it.  (Now it’s got to be true, I found this on the internet… right?)

So think about this, here’s this man walking back and forth across this tightrope, pushing this wheelbarrow, blindfolded, suspended over Niagara Falls.  And as the legend and story develops crowds would gather to watch him do this because it was a spectacular feat to watch.  And one day he yells out to the crowd, do you believe that I can do this again?  To which they all said yes.  Then he says which one of you wants to get into the wheel barrow?  That’s different, isn’t it?  The moment you’re in the wheel barrow it’s no longer just a matter of rattling off data about Charles Blondin, you are actually trusting him with your life.

That’s what Jesus seeks from us; that’s what He was saying to Martha. If that condition of trust or belief is not exercised in Christ, if a person is not trusting in the promises of Jesus Christ, if a person is not trusting in Christ and Christ alone for their eternity and the safekeeping of their could, quite frankly they are not a Christian at all.  That’s why I say the difference between heaven and hell itself is this word “trust.”  It matters very little what you know about Christ if that knowledge has not given way to an actual condition of the heart, which is trust.

And after a person trusts in Christ you would think God would just leave them alone, okay, they’re going to heaven, that’s enough.  But as I’ve said before, faith is like a muscle which must be developed.  The muscle was initially exercised when you trusted in the promises of Christ for salvation; now God says on your path to growth I’m going to keep putting you into this circumstance where you have to trust Me and that circumstance where you have to trust Me and this circumstance over here where you have to trust Me.  And you go through enough of these life experiences and at the end of the day you know what’s developed?  That muscle which is so precious to God because “without faith it is impossible to please Him.

Christian begins with faith; Christianity defines faith and God keeps on us throughout this life developing trust because trust may not be a big deal to the religions of this world; it may not be a big deal to the denominations of this world.  But when you’re talking about the mind of God faith or trust is HUGE!   In fact, it defines one’s relationship with God; in fact, it defines one’s growth in God and the more time a Christian spends, not relying upon themselves but trusting God with their circumstances, that is the degree of their growth.  Without faith you can’t grow, just like without faith you can’t get saved in the first place.

And so in Daniel 3 we see this word “trust.”  In Daniel 6 we see this word “trust.”  In John 11, as Jesus is talking about the resurrection He includes this word “believe” which also means “trust,”  the supernatural protection of God in the midst of the walk of faith.

We move now to the final part of the chapter, the product of Daniel’s ordeal.  What happened as a result of these things?  What happened because an old infirmed man was thrown into the lion’s den and trusted God?  Look at how God worked; look at how God brought light to people because of an ordeal.  You see, when we go through an ordeal we like to think of ourselves and the momentary pain that we are experiencing.  I’m not saying that those aren’t legitimate emotions and concerns but the fact of the matter is you’re in a valley and God has a whole program in mind that we’re not even aware of.  He’s using your circumstance, whatever it is, to touch other people.  There is what I like to say, an evangelistic purpose behind trials.  Would Nebuchadnezzar have ever come to faith in Christ had he not watched the life of God demonstrated through Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, and also Daniel?  I doubt it.

Would Darius, this pagan king, a good king that wanted to do right, a king that I believe just like Nebuchadnezzar we will see one day in heaven, would Darius himself have ever come to faith in Christ for God or Yahweh had he not seen God tangibly demonstrated   through a very weakened and infirmed Daniel.  I doubt Darius would have come to saving faith.

Let me tell you something; there are people in your life that may never get saved unless God uses your circumstances in a particular way.  That’s a different way of looking at trials, isn’t it?  Maybe the trial is not all about us.  Oh, it is about us in terms of developing faith but maybe there’s others that God is going to reach through this trial.

What was the end result of this?  Well the first thing that happened is immediate judgment on Daniel’s enemies.  These men that felt that they had weaved the ultimate trap, the ultimate snare, these men that were wicked and evil and diabolical, these men that framed an innocent man, these men that thought they were getting away with something… they weren’t getting away with anything!  Look if you will at verse 24, “The king then gave orders, and they brought those men who had maliciously accused Daniel, and they cast them, their children and their wives into the lions’ den; and they had not reached the bottom of the den before the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones.”

Amazing!  This group of lions had left Daniel alone for a whole night are unleashed by God and instantaneously the enemies of Daniel, the enemies of God, are immediately dissolved, destroyed, brought to nothing.  Genesis 12:3 of the nation of Israel says this, “I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse.”  How literal is that exactly?   Exodus 11, the Egyptians, their firstborn was killed all over Egypt.  Do you know why?  Because they were tampering with God’s firstborn, the nation of Israel.  Israel is called God’s firstborn in Exodus 4:22.  [Exodus 4:22, “Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the LORD, ‘Israel is My son, My firstborn.’”]

The Egyptians were drowned in the Red Sea.  Why were they drowned in the Red Sea?  Why weren’t they just struck with a lightning bolt?  Because they were drowning God’s people in the Nile, Exodus 1:22.  [Exodus 1:22, “Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, saying, ‘Every son who is born you are to cast into the Nile, and every daughter you are to keep alive.”’]  Haman, a story that occurs in the book of Esther, about 60 years later, also in the Persian time period from Daniel, Esther 7:10 says, “So they hanged Haman on the gallows which he had prepared for Mordecai,” the very gallows that he had prepared for another man’s destruction he himself was hanged on and these men that through self and sneakiness had Daniel thrown into the lion’s den were themselves thrown into the exact lion’s den, this time with great harm to them even though there was no harm to Daniel.

“I will bless those who bless you and the one who curses you I will curse.”  I think the Bible is saying that’s pretty literal.  You’d better watch carefully how you treat God’s people; specifically you’d better watch carefully how you treat the nation of Israel because that’s the one to whom this covenant promise was given.  And  yet what do we find in the last days?  The nations turning against Israel, all the nations.  So they will receive the very recompense, Zechariah 14 says, the very same recompense that they designed for Israel.  The Bible is a vindication of this promise.

Romans 12:9 says, “Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY’, says the Lord.”  You find Daniel here not defending himself, organizing a petition, organizing a protest, demanding his own rights.  You find him humbly submitting to the Creator’s will for his life in this circumstance.  And isn’t it interesting that when  you trust your circumstances to God, God has a way of handling your adversaries.

I learned a long time ago that if I will not take vengeance or grievances for abuses brought against me God has a very interesting way of handling people.  Sometimes He gives them grace and they get saved; other times He brings their lives into tremendous disarray and judgment and difficulty.  Sometimes, as God is my witness, I can say this: He takes people’s lives to vindicate His own children.  I have been hurt and wounded in churches just like you have.

I’ve been hurt and wounded and maligned and pushed out of churches for doing nothing other than the will of God.  And as my wife and I have sort of looked in the rear view mirror, over the course of our journey we have seen what God has done to these very churches that have mistreated us.  Many times the church dissolved into nothing.  And I’m not here saying don’t mess with the pastor, God’s going to get him, that’s not the point.  The point is this is something I’ve walked out and seen God do.  And I wonder many times how that would have played out differently if I had sought to vindicate myself, validate myself, protect myself.  God says okay, you validate yourself, you protect yourself, and I’m not in the business of protecting you, you go about it the best you know how.

But see, the Bible says we are to entrust our circumstances to God.  “Never take your own revenge beloved,” see it says “beloved,” this was written to the Christians, “but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY’, says the Lord.”  This is what Daniel is experiencing here, at a time in his life where his only vindicator was God.  But look at what God did?  Look at what God did to protect him?  Look at what God did to vindicate him?

Now I know what you’re thinking, verse 24 bothers  you because it bothers me a little bit, because it says, “cast their children and their wives into the lion’s den,”  [Daniel 6:24, “The king then gave orders, and they brought those men who had maliciously accused Daniel, and they cast them, their children and their wives into the lions’ den; and they had not reached the bottom of the den before the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones.”]  You say that seems very, very harsh; I mean you tell me that even the kids, children, were thrown into the lion’s den along with their parents, the wives were thrown into the lion’s den.  What did the children do wrong?  What did the wives do wrong?  Doesn’t God love everybody?

The fact of the matter is God does love everybody, 3 Peter 3:9 says this: “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”  Of course God loves everybody.  But here is the bottom line: children are not innocent.  If you think that children are innocent you do not have a biblical anthropology or doctrine of man.  Genesis 8:21 says, “for the intent of man’s heart is evil from” where, “from his youth.”   Children are born into this world, just like you were born into this world, with a nature that is at war with its own Creator.  I believe this, that within every child is a lurking mass murderer.  I’ve seen the tantrums children can throw and I say to myself, you know, if that kid was as strong as me and had some weapons I think we’d all be dead at this point.

And consequently it is the function of parents to reign in the sin nature.  That’s not even the youth pastor’s job; that is parental responsibility given to parents over children.  This is why the book of Deuteronomy chapter 6, verses 6-7 says, “These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. [7] You shall teach them diligently to your sons” there’s not even a youth program mentioned here, “and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.”  Why is it that when Acts 16:30-31 the Philippian jailor says “what must I do to be saved?”  Paul and Silas says, [31] “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”  What do we do with that last part, the “household” part?  Why is it even in there?  It’s talking about parental authority.  It’s talking about the direction a family will logically move in if the head of the family, the man, is a follower of Jesus Christ.  His influence in the home, fulfilling his God-ordained responsibilities is going to set the course and the destiny of those children.

What kind of parents do we have here displayed in Persia?  Manipulators, liars, murderers, unchecked and unhinged; do you know what those kids would have become?  Manipulators, liars, murderers because as the saying goes, “the apple does not fall far from the tree.”   You think the wives are innocent?  Show me the woman behind the man and I’ll show you the man.  Wives have far more influence over their husbands, for good or bad, than they could possibly fathom.  And this is why God saw, I believe, this whole picture, these people were gone.  I mean, there was no opportunity for a change of life, they were just as guilty as their husbands, they were just as guilty as their parents and so the whole crowd there is thrown into the lion’s den, because the apple does not fall far from the tree.

And then what does Darius do?  Now this is not Charles Ryrie talking, this is not Charles Ryrie writing a systematic theology; this is a pagan who’s seen all of this.  And look at the theology that comes forth from him, verses 25-27, “Then Darius the king wrote to all the peoples, nations and men of every language who were living in all the land: “May your peace abound!  [26] I make a decree that in all the dominion of my kingdom men are to fear and tremble before the God of Daniel; For He is the living God and enduring forever, and His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed, and His dominion will be forever.  [27] He delivers and rescues and performs signs and wonders in heaven and on earth, who has also delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.”

Look at the theology that comes out here.  I have eight attributes of God; you probably see more.  Number 1, God is a God of holiness because Darius says people ought to tremble before the God of Daniel.  He is a God that deserves reverence and respect because of who He is, a holy God.  Do you know what the Seraphim, Isaiah 6, say day and night as they surround God’s throne.  They don’t say love, love, love is the Lord God Almighty.  I’m not denying that God is love.  They don’t say grace, grace, grace is the Lord God Almighty.  I’m not denying God is a God of grace.  They call attention to His dominant attribute which is holiness.  It reminds me very much of Exodus 3:5, “take off your sandals, you’re standing on” what? “holy ground.”  [Exodus 3:5, “Then He said, ‘Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.’”]

Have we lost sight of the holiness of God?  Have we gotten so comfortable with His grace that we forgot that He is the standard of righteousness, that we as sinners can’t meet other than through the shed blood of His Son.  Do we have respect and do we revere God?  Do we see Him like the Seraphim see Him, calling attention to His holiness.  Not only is He holy, He is a personal God because He’s called the God of Daniel, just like Exodus 3:6 refers to God as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  [Exodus 3:6, “He said also, ‘I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” Then Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.”]

He’s the God that wants to walk with Daniel; He is the God that wants to walk with you.  He’s a God that wants to know you personally.  Did you see the expression there, also in verse 26 that He is the living God, which is what we commemorate on resurrection Sunday morning, that He is alive.  [Daniel 6:26b, “For He is the living God and enduring forever, And His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed, And His dominion will be forever.”]  Did you also catch the expression “eternal,” He is “the eternal God, enduring forever.  A million years from now He will be here, a billion years from now He will be here, a trillion years from now He will be here.  He has always been and He will always be.  He is the uncaused cause.

Did you also see that He is going to usher in one day an eternal kingdom, I don’t even have that one on my list there.  His kingdom… by the way, which his coming, and by the way, we’re not in it yet in case you haven’t read the newspaper lately, His kingdom which is coming which will be established on planet earth will last forever.  You say I thought it lasted a thousand years.  It does, but then read the next chapter, the thousand years give way to the eternal state, we call it the eternal state because the state is what?  eternal.  This is the God we’re talking about here.  He is the God of personal intervention.

If you look at verse 27 it says, “He delivers and rescues.  [Daniel 6:27, “He delivers and rescues and performs signs and wonders In heaven and on earth, Who has also delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.”]  Daniel just experienced that.  Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego just experienced that.  You know what?  God wants you to experience it; that’s why He’s orchestrating things in your life the way He is, so that you can see His hand.

This next one, is this fit quite well in a Bible church, He is the God of signs and wonders; He is the God of miracles.  You say well, pastor,  you don’t believe in miracles do you?  Why in the world would I ever pray for people if I didn’t believe in miracles.  Why would I pray for people to get well?  Why would I pray for people to get saved if I wasn’t asking for God to intervene and move His hand in history to do something which can’t be accomplished any other way.  He is also the God that has power over creation itself because that whole night Daniel was in the lion’s den their mouth was shut; Daniel’s out of the lion’s den, his enemies are thrown into the lion’s den, their mouths are opened.  Who caused that?  God did.

You wonder how Daniel could have had such courage in this time.  You know how he did it?  He wasn’t thinking about the lions; he was thinking about the God who made the lions.  Can I ask you a question?  As you’re looking at your problem or your struggle, whatever it is, are you looking at the problem or are you looking at the God who created the problem, is sovereign over the problem, controls the problem?  You take Job, remember the story of Job, the great beast that he saw, the behemoth and the leviathan, at one point in that story God asked Job are you afraid of these beasts?   And then God asked who made the beasts?  Who made the leviathan?  Who made the behemoth?

And you see, many times we are so wrapped up in our own circumstances we do not see the transcendent hand of God that reigns over our circumstances.  And in fact, in many cases, I am convinced, defined our circumstances, designed our circumstances.  We become, many times, as the spies became in Numbers 13 and 14, “grasshoppers in our own eyes.”  [Numbers 13:33, “There also we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak are part of the Nephilim); and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.”]

Why do we become grasshoppers in our own eyes?  Because we look at the problem relative to us instead of looking at the problem relative to who?  To God.  Daniel was able to face the lion’s den because he saw God and His power over creation.

So the evangelistic purpose behind trials, God speaking to Darius through Daniel’s trials, just like God spoke to Nebuchadnezzar through the trial of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego.  And think of the courage this would give to the exiles in Babylon who are forced out of their land, being trampled down by various Gentile powers and yet if God can save Daniel can’t He saved the nation?  God is sovereign over the nations that are trampling down the Jews at this time, as evidenced by what just happened here in Daniel 6.

And finally we conclude with verse 29 of Daniel 6, which brings the chapter to an end.  “So this Daniel enjoyed success in the reign of Darius and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian.”  It’s very similar to what is said about Daniel in Daniel 1:21, “And Daniel continued until the first year of Cyrus the king.”  What has just happened here?  The length of Daniel’s service.  Nebuchadnezzar was in power, then he was replaced by Cyrus.  Daniel served under the Persian Empire for about 69 years.  What does the whole thing mean?  Daniel served through two Gentile empires and four successive Gentile administrations.  He served under Babylon; he served under Persia.  He served under Nebuchadnezzar, he served under Belshazzar, he served under Cyrus, and first he served under Darius.  And you know what Daniel discovered in every circumstance he was in?  That God never changed.  The empires changed.  The kings came and went but God never changed.

And that’s your life, circumstance A last year may be different from circumstance B this year.  The job may be different, employment may be different, where you live may be different, relationships may be different, but do you know what you’re going to discover as you walk with God?  God is NOT different!  He is exactly the same in circumstance after circumstance.  Trust Me, He says, watch my hand, watch the circumstances I place you in to develop and to build that trust and faith muscle and walk with Me in the midst of the difficulties and the emergencies and the exigencies of life.

Speaking of that faith muscle some of you that may be here today have never exercised it ever; you’re here that’s what creastors do, they show up on Christmas and Easter, that’s what they do in Texas, other than watch football.  So I’m just doing the ritual thing; I’m doing the religious thing. I’m doing the cultural thing, when in reality doing the cultural thing doesn’t save anybody.

Hell itself is filled with people who did the religious cultural thing.  The escape from the judgment that rightfully is on our shoulders is a simple verb, to believe, also called trust, to rely upon.  You reach a point in your life where  you’re no longer trusting in yourself, your religion, your good deeds, your circumstances, your baptism, your Sunday School certificate, whatever it is, but your ship, your trust for the safekeeping of your soul and your eternal destiny into Christ and His promises alone, period.  And when that happens that’s how you get saved.  The Spirit of God has been sent into the world to convict men and women of their need to do this.

You know, the only sin that sends someone into the lake of fire is unbelief, dying, having never trusted Christ as their savior.  What tragedy it would be to sit here in a sermon like this, in a church like this on a day like this and  yet never trust in Christ; leave here never having exercised faith.  So that’s why I’m giving you the opportunity right now to trust in Christ the best you know how.  You don’t have to walk an aisle, join a church, give money to do it; it’s a matter of privacy between you and the Lord, where the Lord places you under conviction and you respond to that convicting ministry of the Holy Spirit by placing your confidence in Christ.

It is not a matter of intellect; intellect is part of it.  It’s a condition of the heart; yes, Christ, I believe who You are, I believe what You did for me, I believe everything about Your death on the cross and Your proof of who You are through Your bodily resurrection from the dead, which we celebrate today.  And therefore I believe every word You said is true; I even believe John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever should believe in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  I believe that and now I am trusting in what  You’ve done and from this point on I’m your child.  I’m going to have ups, I’m going to have downs, but the bottom line is I belong to You.  Have you don’t that in the privacy of your own heart, in the condition of your own heart, as a matter of privacy between you and the Lord.

You can do it right now as I’m talking, if it’s something that you have done or are doing then on the authority of the Word of God, not my authority, my authority means very little if anything, on the authority of what this book says, on the authority of the God who designed the rules, then you have eternal life.  If it’s something that you need more information on I’m available after the service to talk. As we celebrate resurrection Sunday and our living Savior let’s walk with Him this week by faith, trusting Him for our circumstances and their outcome.

Shall we pray.  Father, we’re grateful for this story of Daniel in the lion’s den and how it speaks directly to our lives.  Make us people of faith, Father, bring us to faith in Christ if we’re not there but help us walk this week by faith, recognizing Your sovereignty and authority in our lives and over our problems. We’ll be careful to give you all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus’ name, and God’s people said, Amen.