In the Lion's Den

Scripture: Daniel 6:1-28
Date: 05/24/2008 
If someone threatened to throw you into a den of hungry lions if you didn't do what they said, would you comply even if it violated your conscience?
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Note: This is a verbatim transcript of the live broadcast. It is presented as spoken.

Morning. Welcome. Very happy for our visitors here. We know we have a lot of people that may be traveling because of the holiday weekend and we’re very happy for any who may be visiting from other parts to be worshiping here at Sacramento Central. Glad, once again, to have the young people from the Weimar Academy here singing with us and worshiping with us. I’ll apologize as I have in the past that what you see in the bulletin for the sermon title is not going to be represented by what you’ll hear me say. There is no connection.

Sometimes the Lord puts something else in my heart that I get very excited about and I’ve found that it’s a good idea to share with you what is stirring me because if the message doesn’t stir me then there’s not much chance… some of my messages no matter how much they stir me don’t stir you. But I’ve got a better chance if it is something that I’m excited about. We’re going to talk about a story this morning that is very familiar, maybe take a fresh look at a story that has been referred to especially for the children. It’s the story of Daniel in the lion’s den. You find this story in, of course, the book of Daniel chapter six. It’s not a passage that is just intended to make for a good story for the children or a fun song they might sing. There’s a lot of very important theology in here that is relevant for us today. I do believe that we are living in the last days of the world’s history and the book of Daniel, we’re told, in a special sense would be opened to us in the last days. This story is part of that.

In order to get the background for the story about Daniel and the lion’s den you need to just go back to chapter five a little bit to understand the context of what’s happening. Long before I was a Christian and I was hearing the expression about “The handwriting on the wall” I didn’t know that that was a Bible expression, but it’s something that comes from the Bible. Very quickly to give you the history, Daniel, when he was a young man, had been carried off captive to Babylon during the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar. Through a series of miracles he was exalted from the position of being a captive to being prime minister and chief counselor for Nebuchadnezzar. He maybe had a lesser capacity under the service of Nebuchadnezzar’s son Evil-merodach and then Nebuchadnezzar’s grandson Belshazzar. Belshazzar was an irreverent king, did not have the reverence for God as Nebuchadnezzar did. He had a drunken feast in which he was mocking the God of heaven, praising the idols of Babylon by drinking from the holy vessels that had been captured from the temple of God in Jerusalem.

He knew he was not supposed to do that, but he was just mocking the God of heaven. But the Lord said enough is enough and in the middle of this great big drunken political feast there on the plaster against the wall where everybody could see it, a bloodless hand began to write in burning characters some cryptic letters “MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN.” Well, they didn’t know what that meant and when the wise men of Babylon could not translate it someone remembered oh there was someone who was in the cabinet of Nebuchadnezzar who had the spirit of the God of heaven. He could tell you what it means. So Daniel is brought in. King Belshazzar says, “If you tell me what this writing means…” Everybody is so terrified by this spiritual spectacle that the party had come to an abrupt halt. The king said, “You tell me what this means and I’ll make you third ruler in the kingdom.” Belshazzar could only offer third ruler because he was the second ruler. His father was off fighting battles somewhere else. And “I’ll give you gifts.” And Daniel, very bold, very courageous, a man of integrity, he says, “Keep your gifts for yourself.” You don’t say that to a king typically, but Daniel knew he wasn’t going to be king for much longer so it didn’t matter. He was soon going to be voted out of office by the Lord.

He said, “But I’m going to tell you for free what the writing says.” And he translated the writing. Basically it said that you are weighed in the balances, you are found wanting; your kingdom is being divided and given to the Medes and the Persians. Of course that’s exactly what happened. That night the Medo-Persian empire had been camped outside the walls. They’d had this drunken party in spite of the fact that the kingdom was being besieged by the Medes and the Persians. They’d diverted the Euphrates River where it ran under the walls. The army of Cyrus and Darius the Mede marched underneath the walls. The soldiers inside were drunk. They’d left the gates, the inner gates unlocked just as it had been foretold by Isaiah hundreds of years earlier and Babylon fell. One of the first things they did is they executed the king and all of the rulers in Babylon but they spared Daniel because Daniel was a man of such sterling character and integrity he was legendary even among his enemies.

I heard about a professor from Vanderbilt University. He was a mathematics professor and at the end of the year he would give the final in trigonometry and he often prefaced his final with these words. He said, “I’m about to give you two tests, one in trigonometry, one in honesty. I hope you pass them both. If you’re going to fail one of them, fail trigonometry. There are many good people in the world that do not understand trigonometry, but there are no good people that do not understand honesty.” Daniel was a person who had sterling character, courage and integrity. He was a man of honesty. He was true to duty as the needle is to the pole. Others knew that and they respected it.

Now go with me to the book of Daniel chapter six. We’re going to read verse one with that background. The Medo-Persian kingdom was sort of a dual kingdom. The Persians were later the supreme kingdom, but when they first started out the Medes had the rulership. King Darius of the Medes sat over the kingdom. Verse one. “It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom an hundred and twenty princes, which should be over the whole kingdom; And over these three presidents; of whom Daniel was first: that the princes might give accounts unto them, and the king should have no” loss. Part of delegating such a big kingdom because not only was it the Babylonian empire, but now the Babylonians had been absorbed by the Persians so you’ve got this very big kingdom to administrate so they delegated to a hundred and twenty-seven different princes.

There’s a trinity of three governors over those. Darius said look, I need a really good honest administrator. He had heard about Daniel. He said I think I can trust you. That really says something because how old was Daniel at this point? He’d already been in Babylon seventy years from when he had been captive probably as a teenager so he must be eighty-something at this point. And yet he’s strong enough of body and clear enough of mind that he’s being chosen for a very strenuous, demanding condition. It says something for the health message that you read about in chapter one, amen? So he puts Daniel in among the three governors because he can be trusted. Well, you know, the other Medo-Persians sort of resent that. Here you take this captive from Judah who he’s not even a national and not only do you give him a position of honor but the king was thinking about setting him over the whole realm. Verse three, “Then this Daniel” while he was working as one of the three top governors “distinguished himself above the governors and (the princes), because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king gave thought to setting him over the whole realm.” An excellent spirit was in him. Has anyone ever accused you of that? If someone were to say, “You know that person over there?

That person over there, they are spirit possessed.” Would you think that was a good thing or a bad thing? It depends on what spirit. If I were to ask you would you like to be spirit possessed? How would you answer? Now let’s admit it, be honest. If I say to you spirit possessed what to you automatically think of? Which spirit? We always think of the bad spirit. You know why? We’ve met so few people who are good spirit possessed. So if I say that person has got a spirit, you’d say, I’ll stay away from them. But when it came to Daniel they said, “He’s got an excellent spirit in him.” He just exuded the Holy Spirit. There was the aura of God’s Spirit about him that others recognized and the king understood that he was faithful. He was honest. He could not be bribed. You know often in positions of power, power corrupts and the more power a person has the most corrupted they are, the more chances for compromise and yet the king saw that Daniel was true and honest and noble and good.

Do you know why Daniel was so faithful under the administration of Nebuchadnezzar and Evil-merodach, Belshazzar, Darius and Cyrus? The Bible says he continued to the first year of the reign of Cyrus and that does not mean he died during the first reign of King Cyrus; that means Cyrus issued a decree that the temple could be rebuilt. Daniel may have even gone back. He may have lived to even go back to Jerusalem during that time. Why did he thrive during the reign of all of those monarchs? Because Daniel really never served them first. Daniel could serve them well because he served a higher monarch first, and they recognized that about him. John Wesley said, “He that fears God fears nothing else. He that does not fear God fears everything else.” Daniel was not afraid of anything because he feared the King of Kings and they saw that. And he “thought to set him over the whole realm.” He was going to make him prime minister or viceroy of the entire empire. Now that really bothered the other politicians who thought they should be in line. There was envy. They were jealous.

Now before I go very far in this study of Daniel chapter six, I want you to know the whole great controversy is in this story between Christ and Satan, the battle between good and evil. The life of Christ is even modeled in the life of Daniel. The life of Jesus is modeled in the story of Daniel. Did Jesus have enemies that tried to find something wrong with Him? Did He have spies following Him around? Did they resent the high position that He held with the Father when He said that He was the Son of God? That He might someday rule over him, that He was a king in some capacity? Yeah, they wanted to get rid of Him. Jesus, second only to God Almighty the Father, the idea that Daniel would be second only to the king, they could not stand that. What was it that caused the rebellion of Lucifer? He was jealous. He envied the position of Christ. He wanted to be like the Most High. So a plot was put into effect to get him out of the way. They said, “We’ll just follow him around. We’ll get some small lipstick cameras. We’ll watch as he fills out his tax returns.

We’ll check his driving record.” I came back from vacation… Maybe I shouldn’t tell you this. Well, what I was going to say is that I got something in the mail and it was a picture of me from the traffic people doing an illegal U-turn, but I’m not going to say it. Confession is good for the soul, bad for the reputation but… They followed Daniel around and he did not even make illegal U-turns. He did not even go over the speed limit. Now the reason I share this is because I know they’re no better than I am, dear. Alright. Let’s find out. Be honest. You must answer me. How many of you ever drive over the speed limit? Come on. Have you ever gone through a light when it’s almost red? Kind of amber colored. Come on! I’m not going to ask you to raise your hand on unreported taxes. You heard about the man who wrote the IRS and he said, “Enclosed please find $150.00. This represents some taxes that I have not paid. I’ve not been able to sleep; it’s bothering my conscience. If I’m still not able to sleep I’ll send you the rest.” That wasn’t like Daniel. They spied him, they went ferreting through his files, they watched him tagged him when he was driving his chariot. He always signaled before he turned. He was faithful. He was honest in everything he did and they got back together totally bewildered. For a little while they thought, “Well, we’ll just set him up with the opposite sex. We’ll snap some pictures, create a scandal and get him out of office.” But he was a eunuch so that wasn’t going to work.

Some of you don’t know what I’m talking about, do you? Well. Read your Bibles. So they tried to trap him. They tried to find something wrong, and they couldn’t find anything. A man of integrity. They “sought to find some charge against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find no charge or fault, because he was faithful…” What did they say about Jesus? Even Pilate said, “I find no fault in Him.” They sent spies who came back and said, “No man speaks like this Man.” He was faithful. By the way, Daniel was human. You can have the same spirit Daniel had. Daniel was faithful living in a foreign land. You and I, as children of another kingdom, are living in a foreign land. If Daniel could be faithful surrounded by Babylonians you can be faithful surrounded by pagans too. Amen? So stop making excuses. This story is in the Bible to encourage you that you can live a godly life and have integrity. They said, verse five, We’re not going to “find any charge against this Daniel…” They can’t even say Daniel. This Daniel “unless we find it against him concerning the law of his God.”

We’re going to need to probably get some religious law enacted and use that against him… somewhere where his law and principals conflict with the law of the Medo-Persians. Now you need to really sit up and pay attention because this may happen to you before it’s over. So the governors and princes “thronged before the king, and said thus to him: ‘King Darius, live forever! All the governors of the kingdom, the administrators and satraps, the counselors and advisors, have consulted together to establish a royal statute…’” Well, they’re lying. It wasn’t all of them. Daniel was chief. He wasn’t in there. I can promise you that. They’re trying to give the king the impression that they had had consensus and everybody agreed this was a good thing to unite the kingdom. We’re consulting that the king “establish a royal statute and to make a firm decree, that whoever petitions” or prays to “any god or man for thirty days, except you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions. Now, O king, establish the decree and sign the writing, so that it cannot be changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which does not alter.” I underlined in my Bible “cannot be changed” “does not alter.” Now you might be wondering… Then it goes on to say “Therefore King Darius signed the written decree.”

Now the Medo-Persians, when they made a law it wasn’t like in North America where we vote a law and we vote it out. We say here’s a good law, no, we’re changing that law. We’re repealing that law. We’re modifying that law. It depends who is in office at that time and whether or not we liked it. When they made a law back then the law of the king did not change. It would be in the books for generations or at least for the life of the king. It wasn’t just his vanity. Nobody prays to anybody but me for thirty days. Darius wasn’t… It probably appealed to his vanity, but you see, they knew something back then that leaders know. When you cannot unite diverse people because of politics or because of language barriers, because there are cultural differences or geography, you can unite people through religion. It is the hardest thing to overcome. You know why the problems in the Middle East are so entrenched? They get the best political minds, the best negotiators, the best advisors to come into that region and to try to get the people together, but why are they divided? It’s not culture. It’s not language that’s really the problem. It’s not the economics. It’s not the traditions. It’s the religion. If you can get people united in religion they can overcome all of the other barriers.

The devil knows that. Nebuchadnezzar knew that. Why do you think he said I’m going to have everybody gather on the Plain of Dura, we’re going to make a statue, we’re going to bow to the same statue at the same time, unite the kingdom, and we’ll be welded together by common faith in worship? King Darius said, “Yeah, that’s the way to do it.” Why do you think the Caesars had it declared that they were gods? Do you think they really believed they were gods? I mean some of them probably became narcissistic and started thinking that way, but megalomaniacs. Most of them knew it was a maneuver to manipulate the simple masses. Believe that the pharaoh is a god, believe that the Caesar is a god, unite the kingdom through common worship. You know that principal has not changed. The devil is going to use it in the last days. He’s going to compel the whole world to worship a certain way. Often crisis makes people very religious. Karen’s brother is in China. Is he still there, dear? He’s home now. He was in China during the earthquake that they just had there. Terrible.

They’re estimating now it’s somewhere between sixty and eighty thousand people have died and they don’t know if all the numbers have come in. Now officially China is an atheistic country, but when you have a crisis and the ground starts shaking under your feet. Here in California we know how an earthquake feels, right? Not so much in Sacramento, but we feel them periodically up in Mendocino County, around Eureka and in San Francisco. You start wondering where do I go for security. You can start calling out for God, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some of these natural disasters, not only will they offer opportunities to preach the gospel in these countries that have been mocking God; people are going to be very open to God. Amazing Facts has two missionaries in China right now and it’s presented great opportunity, the earthquakes. Chinese government is opening the door. He’s asking for aid now and they’re taking it from some religious organizations. But a string of natural disasters or economic disaster and all of a sudden a great religious figure were to appear and try and unite the world through common religion. Politicians would go for that. All the kings of the earth will lend their support to the woman, the Bible says. Common worship. Bring the people together.

So Darius signs the decree. Good idea. I’ve got a hundred and twenty-seven provinces. The people are scattered. We’ve got some Babylonians, some Medes, some Persians, some Jews and all of these different… Weld them together. You all pray to the king for thirty days and develop morale and support. So he signed the decree, but he didn’t know that it was really a ruse. The whole thing was to get rid of Daniel. Now here is where, for me, the story is phenomenal. Daniel is a man of sterling conviction and courage. You read in verse ten (I’ve got this underlined in my Bible), “Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed…” I doubt with his high position that they could get the document printed, copied and circulated without his knowing. Somebody brought him a copy before it went out. “Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home.” He withdrew from the corruption of the palace back to his house. “And in his upper room…” A lot of interesting things happen in upper rooms. You hear about of course Elisha. Elisha goes into that upper room and he prays and that boy is resurrected. The Bible talks about the church being born in an upper room. Jesus first appears in an upper room. Daniel goes into his upper room.

The last supper, New Testament church was inaugurated there. “…his windows being open…” Now why would that be mentioned? What does the law say? Anybody caught praying for thirty days. By the way, I don’t know if there’s a connection but it’s interesting when you get to Daniel chapter twelve there is a thirty day period, a thirty year period between the 1260 and the 1290. Not sure if there’s a connection there, but just thought that was interesting. It represented a month. Not supposed to be caught praying. Now doesn’t Jesus say when you pray enter into your closet and shut the door? Wouldn’t this have been a good time to go in the closet and shut the door? Why did he pray… Not only did he pray with his windows open, he prayed on his knees so that they could see physically he was in a posture of prayer. He could have just sat there in the window with his arms folded and looked like he was meditating, but he got down and took on the posture of prayer and he did not pray towards the palace in Babylon or in Shushan; he prayed towards Jerusalem. Everything about what Daniel did said I am not going to worship man. I am going to worship God because it is better to obey God than man, right? See, it was something he had done for a long time. So now the people in the courtyard below Daniel’s window, they see everywhere is plastered this poster about this new law and they all began to think, We’ve got this neighbor Daniel and he’s got this custom of opening his window… and people see.

You know in the Batchelor home, some of you have been over to our house before, and our front room, our main room we’ve got a great big picture window. This is how the house came. When the weather is more temperate like it’s been we just we keep it open. It brings the light in. Summer time, sometimes the heat you like to close it down a little bit. Our neighbors Friday night they often see us gathered there in the front room bellowing out our praise. I think that’s good. Another reason he left his window open, Jesus said in Matthew chapter five, “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works” not to glorify you, glorify your Father in heaven. Don’t hide what you believe. If you’re a Christian and you thank God for your food when you’re at home, don’t be afraid to bow your heads when you’re in a public restaurant. If you’re on an airplane let someone see. It always encourages me if I’m in some public place and I see somebody take off their baseball cap and bow their head to pray over their hamburger wherever they are. Bless their hearts. Sometimes I want to go up and talk to them, “Are you a believer?” and strike a conversation. I noticed you. It looked like you were praying. There are others out there who are looking. Don’t be ashamed of what you believe.

Daniel was ready to be caught praying at the cost of his life. You don’t have to hide when you pray. I remember I traveled with a singing group and we would break up in different rooms. You stay in hotels and you break up. The guys would stay with different guys and the girls with girls and I really admired one member of the group. No matter what was happening or who he was staying with before he went to bed and when he got up in the morning he knelt there by his bed, he folded his hands and he prayed. There was nothing discrete about it. It’s like, some of them might have the TV on in the room and he’d say, “I’m going to pray now.” He’d kneel down and he’d pray. He said, “This is something I’ve done since a child and I’m not stopping.” That taught me something that I never forgot. Let your light shine. Don’t be afraid of what you believe. Stand up for your convictions.

Did Jesus have a custom? Oh, I never finished reading for you verse ten. “Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God…” He’s not only praying, petitioning God for the people which you read about his prayer in Daniel chapter nine, you also hear him giving thanks. He prayed for his needs; he’s giving thanks. If you knew you were about to be kitty food would you thank God? I mean, some of us say, “I have nothing to thank the Lord for. It’s just been a rough week, a rough day!” and you just complain in your prayers or tell God what you need or what you want Him to change and you forget to thank Him. Daniel is about to die and he’s thanking the Lord. So doesn’t the Bible say in all things give thanks? If he can thank God then in those circumstances then we can always be thankful. Amen? Three times that day and there were probably spies set up watching to see is he going to continue his custom? Is he going to close his windows?

Is he going to hide the posture of prayer? Daniel did not change anything about his relationship with God even though it might cost him his life. Was it because he was stubborn? Is there any virtue in Christians being stubborn, wearing our religion on our sleeve and being obstinate? No, I think Daniel did it because he loved God and he was more interested in the honor of God (his real boss) than the king of Medo-Persia. He wasn’t doing it because he was just stubborn. It was about love. He said, “I’m not going to let anything come between my relationship and my time with God.” Now I can’t do this without trying to exploit a very simple point. The reason there is a book in the Bible called Daniel, I believe, is seen right here in this verse. As his custom was three times a day. This means Daniel had a personal devotional life. How could you survive a believer in the God of heaven surrounded by first the Babylonian paganism then the Medo-Persian paganism and all that went with it to be in a position of politics? One of the most suspect occupations for honesty and integrity is politics. Show of hands. How many of you think that most politicians tell untruths? The approval rating for congress, I think, is like twenty percent. To be an honest politician is possible, but, boy, they’re really rare! You’ve got Joseph. He was one. David was one. Daniel was one. Not too many. It can be done.

Why is the book of Daniel in the Bible? Why could God use him the way He did? The key is in this verse. He prayed and he read his Bible. How do you know, Pastor Doug, that he read his Bible? It doesn’t say that. It says he knelt down and prayed three times. Why is he praying towards Jerusalem? Because Daniel read, in 2 Chronicles 6:21 Daniel read where Solomon said, “May You hear the supplications of Your servant and Your people Israel when they pray towards this place.” Matter of fact, Solomon specifically said if Your people are unfaithful and they’re carried off… from Solomon saying it makes a difference what direction you pray if you’re carried away from your sacred place. That starts here with Solomon. Daniel did that. How do I know that Daniel read the Bible? Why did Daniel pray three times a day? Because before Daniel was born someone named David was born and David wrote a Psalm that said in Psalm 55:17 “Evening and morning and at noon I will pray,” You “shall hear my voice.” Daniel probably read in Psalm 119:11 “Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You.” And Psalm 119:9 “How can a young man cleanse his way?” He was carried off as a young man. “By taking heed according to Your word.”

Maybe he read in the Bible in Psalm 22 where King David said, listen to this, verse 21, “Save Me from the lion’s mouth…” maybe Daniel read that; maybe he was claiming that promise in his prayer, “Lord, Save Me from the lion’s mouth.” I think Daniel read his Bible and I think Daniel prayed, and he did it three times a day which means no matter how busy he was or what was going on, what political changes or wars were transpiring, and if you think you’re too busy to find time to pray, I doubt you’re as busy as the prime minister of the biggest kingdom in the world. And yet he found time for God. No matter what was on his schedule, cell phone going off, his blackberry, his pager, faxes—Daniel would say, “I’m going to my upper room,” and he’d pray. Three times!

Do you have a devotional life? If you’d like to have the character of Daniel, you might need to have the devotional life of Daniel. And, a good time for God is not found, it’s made. You’ve got to just do it. It’s like food. You’ve got to believe it’s more important than food. The word of God is like food, matter of fact, Jeremiah 15:16 “Your words were found, and I ate them, and Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart.” Job 23:12 “I have not departed from the commandment of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.” And then everyone knows where Jesus says, in Matthew 4:4 “But… `Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.' ''

Your time in God’s word, your time in prayer—how important is it to you? Now, here’s where I want to make the connection. There is a big test coming in the last days. There is a big test coming. Some people are preparing all along the way, some people try to cram for their finals right at the last minute. There are going to be some people who are eleventh hour workers that will still make it, but for the most part it’s those who are studying now for the little quizzes that will pass the final. In this big test that is approaching we’re going to make a decision. Do I love the Lord so much I would rather die than disobey Him? This is the test that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego passed. There was a law made. They had to decide, am I going to obey the law of God or man? They said, ‘Even if it means that I’m going to lose my job in Babylon, even if it means I’m going to lose my life, I would rather burn to death,’ which can’t be pleasant, ‘than to bow down to the graven image.’ One of the commandments is don’t worship images, they said ‘we’d rather die.’

In Daniel chapter 6, Daniel says, ‘One of the commandments says “Thou shalt have no other gods before me,”’ and that would certainly include the king of Medo-Persia. ‘I’m not going to worship him as a god. We’re to pray to the Lord. I’m making a decision—I’m going to obey God’s commandments instead of the political commandments or the commandments of men. I’d rather die—be torn limb from limb by lions—than disobey God.’ In the last days, those who live during that time will face the same test. Do you love the Lord so much that you would rather say, “I’d rather starve,”—can’t buy or sell, “be persecuted, lose my job, lose my life, than break one of God’s commandments.”? Like the Sabbath? How important is that one? ‘Well, maybe, yeah, I won’t really break it, I’m still going to keep it, I’m just going to keep it a different day than the one that God picked. I mean, I know God said, “Keep the seventh day,” but as long as it’s a seventh day, maybe it doesn’t matter?’ Well, that’d be like Daniel saying, ‘well, I’m going to pray to God, but I’m going to pray towards the palace of Persia while I do.’ He would not compromise in any little particular. What if Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, when they played the music and everybody bowed down to the statue—I’m assuming you all know this story.

What if they had said, “We’re not going to pray to the statue, but this is a good time to check our sandals,” and go down and start, “No, no, we don’t want to create a spectacle, may as well go along.” They wouldn’t compromise! They were fanatics about little things, like God said the Seventh day, that means the Seventh day, and we know what day that is—that’s the day we’re going to keep, even if we’re the only ones. Daniel was the only one with his window open, praying towards Jerusalem. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego were the only ones standing up when everyone else bowed down. Do you love the Lord so much that if everyone in this church was to give up their faith, would you still keep it? I hear about some people, every now and then Amazing Facts gets a letter, and it’s—we’ve had several of them, it says something like this, “Dear sirs, I’m writing you from India. I’ve been reading the Bible for years and keeping the Bible Sabbath. I did not know there were other people out there who kept it. I’ve been alone. Praise the Lord, I’ve found other people.” We’ve gotten letters like that from the Middle-east, and places in Africa, remote viewers who find it on satellite or they get some literature, and they’re trying to be true to God—God has His people everywhere that we don’t know about that are standing up for Him. I want to have that kind of faith, don’t you?

So, Daniel read the Bible. It was like food for his soul. There’s a verse in Great Controversy, page 51. “If we’re going to survive during this final conflict, we need to be a people of the Word. Satan well knew that the Holy Scriptures would enable man to discern his deceptions and withstand his power. It was by the Word that even the Savior of the World had resisted his attacks. At every assault, Christ presented the shield of eternal truth, saying, ‘It is written.’ To every suggestion of the adversary, He opposed in the wisdom and power of the Word. In order for Satan to maintain sway over men, and establish his authority, he must keep them in ignorance of the scriptures.” We need to read our Bibles. Your spiritual life is going to almost always be in proportion to the place the Word of God holds in your devotions. How deep and wide your experience with God is will always be proportionate to your devotional life. It’s the time that you choose to make for God. Quality time where you really just set aside time and say, this is just time to pray, this is time to study. This is, I think, a very relevant chapter because there’s a storm coming, and we need to prepare for what’s ahead.

Now, back to Daniel chapter 6—we want to return to our story. So, we’ve just finished reading verse 10, where he said, once he knew the writing was signed. There were spies watching him pray, they saw him do it three times that day. “These men assembled, and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his God. And they went before the king, and spoke concerning the king’s decree: ‘Have you not signed a decree that every man who petitions any god or man within thirty days, except 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 does not alter.’ So they answered and said before the king, ‘That Daniel, who is one of the captives from Judah, does not show due regard for you, O king, or for the decree that you have signed, but makes his petition three times a day.’” I would have liked to have had a snapshot of the king’s face when he heard them say, “That Daniel.” The king, his mouth probably fell open and his eyes, “Oh—when I signed that decree, I forgot about Daniel! Three times a day, he prays to his God, oh NO!” He was set up—he spotted it right then. That he had been played, that there was jealousy, that they were trying to get rid of him. Pilate knew that the religious leaders were trying to get rid of Jesus just because of jealousy and envy. And he sought to deliver Him. But he couldn’t, because they kept after him, threatening that it was going to be rebellion against the laws of Rome, because Jesus was making Himself a king, and according to the laws of Rome, if anyone else claimed to be king, they were to be executed. Same kind of thing.

Daniel 6:14 “And the king, when he heard these words, was greatly 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.” What time of day did Jesus die? Was it the going down of the sun? Daniel 6:15, “Then these men approached the king, and said to the king, ‘Know, O king, that it is the law of the Medes and Persians that no decree or statute which the king establishes may be changed.’” They’re pulling out the fine print, and they’re saying, “We realize that you regret that you signed this law, but king, this is the law of the Medes and Persians. And especially now, when we’ve just taken over the Babylonians, we cannot alter our laws. It does not change. You’ve written it, you’ve signed it as a decree, they’ll have no respect for you as a king, the whole empire is going to unravel if the king changes his law.” And he had all of these corrupt advisors around him, saying… He got his lawyers together, he said, “Isn’t there some loophole? What can we do?” and they said, “It’s clear!” They wrote it up very carefully because they wanted to make sure there was no way Daniel would get out. “And the king labored until the going down of the sun,” he had to implement the law before the end of the day. Daniel had broken it. No way. The law of the kings of the Medes and Persians could not be changed.

Here’s the question. How firm is the law of God? Does God’s law change? You know, it’s fascinating to me… You’ve got three examples here where you have kings in the Bible that made laws they later regretted, they wanted to change, and they could not change. You remember, of course, King Ahasuerus. He made a law that all the Jews should be attacked on a certain date. Then he found out that his beautiful wife, Esther, was a Jew! He could not repeal that law. So what he did is he issued another law that gave the Jews the right to defend themselves ahead of time against the people who would attack them, and so he sort of countermanded that law. But he couldn’t change the law. King Herod spoke, and the king’s word was law. He said that if his step-daughter would come out and wiggle and dance, that whatever she wanted, up to half the kingdom, he’d give it to her. He spoke, made a promise. She said, “I want the head of John the Baptist.” He did not want to do that. He was very sorry to hear it; he knew John was a prophet. But he was a king and he’d spoken, and the king’s word is law when he speaks it. And yet, in spite of the fact that you’ve got these examples in the Bible of kings that make promises, and there are others I could cite, and once they speak, their word is law, they cannot change it. Matter of fact, even king Saul, he said whoever it was that had eaten before the battle was over would die, and his son Jonathan had eaten, and Saul said, “Jonathan, you surely will die.” And Jonathan did die the same day as his father. The king’s word is law.

In spite of all the examples in the Bible, there are people out there that claim to be Christians that believe that when God spoke the Ten Commandments with His own voice, and He wrote them with His own finger, in the presence of a whole nation, that He’s going to just change it! Or He’s going to sweep it aside and say, “Well, we’ve got a new plan now.” You know how ludicrous that really is? And yet folks have got these clever arguments they’ve concocted that we can change the law of God. It doesn’t change!

So, the king did all that he could do, and there was no way out for Daniel. So, reluctantly, the king, verse 16, Daniel 6:16, “So the king gave the command, and they brought Daniel and cast him into the den of lions. But the king spoke, saying to Daniel, ‘Your God, whom you serve continually, He will deliver you.’” Now, there’s a lot of us that might want to take a pen, I’ve taken a yellow highlighter in my Bible, where it says, “Your God, whom you serve continually…” Is it possible for us to serve God continually and consistently? I think everybody who’s a believer serves God a little bit. Some of the time, right? But how are we to serve God? We’re His servants, all the time, continually, consistently. And then the promise is, “Your God, whom you serve continually, He will deliver you.” Is there a time of trouble and a storm coming? If we serve God continually, because we love Him, will He deliver us? I believe that’s a promise we can count on.

“Then they took a stone, and they brought it, and they laid it on the mouth of the den.” Oh, that sounds familiar. Was there a stone placed over the tomb of Christ? And by the way, that lion’s den was the equivalent of a death sentence. Those were Asiatic lions, I think they’re pretty much extinct now, but they were sort of a cross between a ferocious bob-cat and an African lion. What they lacked in size, they made up in their ferocity.

Cats are different creatures, you know. Boy, they’re fast, I mean, that’s why they say they’ve got nine lives. We’ve got some cats in our neighborhood, and we’re not sure who owns them; they go from house to house. You can own a dog, and a dog knows where his home is. A cat sort of decides where he wants to be. And when they’re mad. . . you ever try to give a cat a bath? I heard someone—there was this email, it said “How to give a cat a bath.” It says, you take the kitty in the bathroom, and you lift up the toilet seat. But first, you put the soap in the bowl, and a little bit of shampoo. Then you shut the seat, and then you stand on it. Got to shut both lids. Flush three or four times for a power wash—make sure it’s a big enough cat. Stephen actually did that once, with a little cat. He was a baby, it wasn’t because I said this, so don’t think I encouraged it. Just one time, he was in the bathroom, we’re hearing this cat, “mrroew!” flush, flush. . . he’d put the kitten in the toilet, yeah. And so then, what you do is you have somebody open the front door. And then you lift the lid, and the cat will bolt outside clean, and he’ll power dry out there. Now, those of you who love cats are going to come after me later and… I don’t have any stories about lions, but I had a cat story, so I thought I’d share that with you.

These were ferocious animals that were very fast and very hungry. So this is a miracle. He sealed it. Not only was there a stone placed on the tomb of Christ, but what else was put on the tomb? A government seal. That seal said King Darius, King of Medo-Persia. On Jesus’ tomb it said Pontius Pilate, Governor, Judea. A seal placed on a stone. Interesting. “…with his own signet ring and with the signets of his lords, that the purpose concerning Daniel might not be changed.” This reinforced the miracle. “Now the king went to his palace and (he) spent the night fasting; and no musicians were brought before him. Also his sleep went from him.” What do you think the condition was of God in heaven during the time when Christ was in the tomb? Were they playing their harps in heaven? Or was there a great somberness there? “Then the king arose very early in the morning…” What time of day did Jesus rise? Very early in the morning. “…and went in haste to the den of lions. And when he came to the den, he cried out with a lamenting voice to Daniel. The king spoke…” The king’s heart yearned after Daniel. It said the king set his heart to deliver Daniel. This was his best man. He didn’t want to lose him. And he said, “Daniel, servant of the living God…”

Why did he say that? Because he knew that Daniel served the real God unlike the gods of Medo-Persia. “Has your God, who you serve continually, been able to deliver you?” I always thought it was interesting, when he put him in, he said, “Your God will deliver you.” But after 24 hours, he’s not so sure anymore. The king’s faith was wavering. “Has your God who you serve continually been able to deliver you from the lions?” Then Daniel said to the king, “O king, live forever!” Now, that shocked the king right there, because they’d never heard any voices coming from the lions’ den twenty-four hours later. Everybody who went into the lions’ den, nobody came out. Nothing came out. And to hear someone speaking was a shocking thing. And Daniel said to the king, “O king live forever, my God has sent His angel and shut the lion’s mouth that they have not hurt me because I was found innocent before Him.” You’ve read the story of Pilgrim’s Progress, where the lion, who was a type of the devil. “Be sober, be vigilant,” Peter tells us, “because your adversary the devil goes around like” what? “…a roaring lion, seeking whom he might devour.” So how are you and I going to survive the lion? By having faith and a relationship like Daniel did. Daniel had a devotional life. “Thy word I have hidden in my heart that I might not sin.” How did Jesus survive the attacks and temptations of the devil, the lion? He said, “It is written… it is written… it is written.” Jesus had a custom.

Daniel had a custom. What was Daniel’s custom? He prayed, and he worshiped God three times a day. Jesus had a custom. Every Sabbath He was in the Synagogue, reading the scriptures. We need some of those customs in our lives. Reading the word, a devotional life, regular church attendance. I’ve often said, If we don’t have enough faith to get us to church once a week, then how can we expect to have enough to get us to heaven? I’m glad for everyone that’s here today. I suspect that some of our folks are on vacation from church today. When I’m on vacation, we find a church, or at least have worship with the family, if there’s none around. But I think it’s really important that we’re regular about that. You know, reading about this time when Daniel was in the lions’ den, “My God has sent his angel and shut the lion’s mouth.” Dwight Moody, I believe it was, said he always envisioned that during the night—Daniel was an old man, he got tired—that he leaned up against one of those lions and used it as a pillow. And like in the story of Pilgrim’s Progress, the lions had no claws, they had no teeth. Their mouths were shut by the angel, their claws were retracted, and they just couldn’t do anything. And they laid back, and Daniel tugged on the lion’s tail, and said, “Could you please purr for me, and vibrate? Put me to sleep?” It’s one thing, sleeping with someone who snores; can you imagine sleeping with someone that roars?

Someone said one time, the reason the lions did not eat Daniel was because he had too much backbone. If he was chicken, they would have eaten him, right? “My God has sent the angel and shut the lions’ mouth, and so they have not hurt me, because I was found innocent before Him. Also before you, O king, I have done no wrong.” Isn’t that what Pilate said? “I find no fault in Jesus.” “Then the king was exceedingly glad for him, and commanded they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no injury or hurt was found on him whatsoever, because he’d believed in his God.” Daniel was saved by faith. It starts out by saying, here in the beginning of chapter 6, verse 4, “He was faithful.” Daniel was full of faith. Daniel was not saved by works. He had good works, but his works were because of great faith. He was saved from the lions’ den by his faith. What does real faith mean? Because he believed in his God. He showed his belief by putting God first. “Whoever believes in Him will not perish.” Do we have the kind of belief where we take our time with God? That’s what it means to believe in Him. If we say we believe in God, but we never give Him our time, then we’re lying. It’s not just saying, “Oh, I believe He’s out there and He exists,” the devil says that.

It means, “I believe in Him, and I’m going to spend time with Him every day.” That’s what it means to Be-Live in God. We need to have that kind of relationship. That’s what I want, friends. For God to have that kind of priority in my life. We’re going to be facing the same test. Do you know how quickly the final events could happen? Can you imagine if there was a 7.9? That’s what they just had in China. Seems like there’s been a lot of seismic activity. Can you imagine a 7.9 in San Francisco? Or Los Angeles? What if you combined a couple more Katrinas with a 7.9? What would happen? Would people start turning to God out of fear? I think you’d see a wave of religion. Next politician-preacher that ran for president would probably get elected at that point. People would be looking for it. Things could change very quickly. Laws could be made. What kind of faith do you have now? Are you passing the little tests in preparation for the final? “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much.” “The king was exceedingly glad for him.” Jesus came out alive, didn’t He? Daniel came out alive. “He was taken up out of the den and no injury whatever was found on him.” They needed no band-aids. Not even the smell of smoke was on Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego.

When God saves you, He saves you completely, Amen? Some people said, “Oh, the lions weren’t hungry.” The kingdom had just gone through a transition, and the lions had eaten so many political prisoners that they were all just laying with indigestion down at the bottom of the den burping. Little lion burps. And when they threw Daniel in, they just groaned and rolled over. No, if you don’t think the lions were hungry, keep reading. Daniel 6:24 “And the king gave the command, and they brought those men who had accused Daniel, and they cast them into the den of lions them, their children, and their wives; and the lions overpowered them, and broke all their bones in pieces before they ever came to the bottom of the den.” Those lions were very ferocious lions. Now Daniel, standing up, not only was it a witness, listen. The king, he sent out a decree that everyone was supposed to pray to the king. That decree is completely forgotten and swallowed up by the next decree. This decree is what the king sends out that the people remember. “To all peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth: Peace be multiplied to you. I make a decree that in every dominion of my kingdom men must tremble and fear before” King Darius? No. “…the God of Daniel.

For He is the living God, and steadfast forever; His kingdom is the one which shall not be destroyed,” not Medo-Persia, “and His dominion shall endure to the end. He delivers and rescues, and He works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth, Who has delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.” This is really what God the Father did with Jesus when He was resurrected. Daniel 6:28, “So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian.” In the first year of Cyrus’s reign, he issued the decree that Jerusalem should be rebuilt, and that the temple could be rebuilt, and I’d like to think that Daniel was, as an old man, retired from his responsibilities in Medo-Persia, where he could go back, and die in his home country with the knowledge that the temple was going to be rebuilt. That was a real prayer of his heart. And that the Messiah was someday coming. I expect to see Daniel in heaven someday. It’s going to be fun to talk to him and ask him a lot of questions about that experience. What it was like. But you know, he might be asking us about our experiences. Isn’t that something to think about? What was it like to stand up for your faith in the last days and know that you would be killed if you compromised your convictions?

Wouldn’t you like to have that kind of a conversation with Daniel, where we could compare notes about our adventure of faith? You can have that. It’s going to come from having a relationship with Jesus and believing His word. You know, I’ve changed the closing hymn. I was looking for that song Dare to Be a Daniel, but I couldn’t find it in the hymnal. But I found one just as good, it’s called Give me the Bible. Because Daniel read the Bible, he had a devotional life, and that’s what made the difference in his experience. I’d like to encourage you to say, “I’m going to have a devotional life like that, and I want to have the experience of Daniel to sustain me in the last days.” If that’s your prayer why don’t you signify that by standing as we sing 272 Give me the Bible.

Give me the Bible, star of gladness gleaming, To cheer the wanderer lone and tempest tossed, No storm can hide that peaceful radiance beaming Since Jesus came to seek and save the lost.

Give me the Bible-holy message shining, Thy light shall guide me in the narrow way. Precept and promise, law and love combining, 'Til night shall vanish in eternal day.

Before we sing the next verse (We’ll be singing all three.) I want to give you an opportunity to respond to the word of God this morning. If there’s some special need in your life or if you’re feeling the Lord calling you to re-consecrate yourself in some way and you’d like to come to the front and request special prayer then we’d like to offer that opportunity as we sing verse two together.

Give me the Bible when my heart is broken, When sin and grief have filled my soul with fear, Give me the precious words by Jesus spoken, Hold up faith's lamp to show my Savior near.

Give me the Bible-holy message shining, Thy light shall guide me in the narrow way. Precept and promise, law and love combining, 'Til night shall vanish in eternal day.

Before we sing the last verse, after considering this wonderful story today and you realize we are entering into sober times and we need to have that close relationship with Jesus so we’re willing to open our mouths and open our windows and let our light shine. We know that’s going to depend on a relationship with Him that comes from our time on our knees with our Bibles. If you’d like to ask the Lord to say, “Lord, help me to have a revival in my personal devotions,” and make that commitment now to spend time with God every day in His word and prayer, would you like to lift your hands and say, “Lord, that’s my desire. Help me to know You better.” Let’s sing the last verse then we’ll close with prayer.

Give me the Bible, all my steps enlighten, Teach me the danger of these realms below, That lamp of safety, o'er the gloom shall brighten, That light alone the path of peace can show.

Give me the Bible-holy message shining, Thy light shall guide me in the narrow way. Precept and promise, law and love combining, 'Til night shall vanish in eternal day.

Amen. Sounds good with the academy singers here.

Father in heaven, Lord, we’ve heard this story before, but it just energizes and encourages us each time. We long to have the relationship with You that Daniel had where we could be people of integrity, honesty, faithfulness, where our lives can be transparent and consistent. Lord, we want to serve You continually. Help us to believe as Daniel believed. Lord, I pray that we will resolve like Daniel we’re living in a foreign land and we want to be Your ambassadors. Help us to fortify our minds with the truth of Your word that we can stand through this final conflict, to love You so much, Lord, that we will not close our windows or hide our faith, but we will boldly, courageously stand up for truth. Give us that determination. Forgive us for our compromise in the past, Lord, and give us consistency in the future. Bless each person here. Those who have come forward for the appeal whatever the needs are in their life help them to experience Your power and Your peace and that we can go from this place knowing that we can go with You and we have nothing to fear because we ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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