Lessons from the Lion's Den



Daniel 6:6-27  

Do you realize that you are being watched? Now more than ever, all of us are being watched, more than we realize. There are security cameras in most stores that you shop in, and as you shop, people are watching you. Certain intersections have cameras that take pictures of people going through red lights. There are cameras at toll booths. Credit card companies are watching what you buy. Phone companies are watching whom you are calling and who’s calling you. And you will never know how closely you are being watched as you surf the internet.

Today, we are going to be looking at a man who was being watched – Daniel. Daniel was dedicated to serving God, and as he served God faithfully and openly in his life, he was being watched. Toward the end of his life, Daniel ended up in a lion’s den. There are many lessons we can learn from Daniel and the lion’s den, and today we are going to look at two. May God bless you with a stronger faith and a greater desire to serve Christ openly in your life we study this account this morning.

Read Daniel 6:1-27

The first lesson form this morning’s text is that . . .

As You Serve God Openly in Your Life, Other People Will Be Watching (vss. 1-16)

Daniel was one of the exiles in Babylon. He had been taken to Babylon in 605 B.C. as a young man. By the time these events took place, Daniel was an older man, perhaps in his 80’s. He had been serving God openly all his life. Since his captivity had begun, he had served in the government; first, under the Babylonians and later, under the Persians. God had blessed Daniel during this time, allowing him to be given positions of power and influence in the foreign governments that ruled over the land.

A man named Darius became ruler when the Persians defeated the Babylonians (the story is told in Daniel 5). He set up a new Persian system of government in which Daniel was one of the top administrators under the king. Daniel served faithfully in that position, and he was so successful that the king was planning to promote him above all the other government officials. Some of those officials didn’t like it that Daniel, a Jew, would be higher in rank than they, and so they plotted against him. And as they plotted, they noticed something about Daniel. Look at verse 5: “We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God.”

You see, Daniel was openly worshiping God. It was obvious to everyone, including the people who didn’t like him. Daniel’s enemies knew that the only way to get Daniel was to do something to challenge his faith.

And so, they plotted his demise. They had the king make up a law that for one month, no one could pray to any god except the king. Anyone who prayed to a god must be thrown into the lion’s den. The king liked this idea – it appealed to his ego. He probably thought it would be a great way to unify the empire to have everyone worshiping the king for a month. And so, he put the decree in writing. It became a law.

Now since Daniel was such a high-ranking government official, he learned about this law immediately. He knew that people would be watching him. He could have changed his daily routine. He could have worshiped God secretly instead of openly, just to stay out of trouble. But that’s not what he did. Look at verse 10:

“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.”

“I’m not going to cover up my faith,” Daniel probably thought, “I’m going to keep praying. I’m going to keep serving God. I’m going to worship him openly, just as I have done all my life. I will not hide my faith.” This was Daniel’s routine, to openly spend time with God three times a day, meditating on his word, and praying.

People were watching. We are told in verse 11 that his enemies “went as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help.” Then they went and told the king. Now the king liked Daniel because Daniel was his top administrator. He didn’t want him to be killed over some silly law about praying to the king. He realized that he had been deceived by Daniel’s enemies, but since he had made a law, he couldn’t do anything about it. Imagine it! The most powerful man in the world, whose empire stretched from Egypt to India and from Greece to Arabia, was powerless. And so, he had Daniel thrown into the lion’s den. Look at the words he spoke in verse 16 to Daniel: “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!” Everyone knew that Daniel as a man who served his God continually. It was not a secret, and the king acknowledged it.

Would you have done what Daniel did? Would you have continued to openly worship God, honor him, pray to him openly, even when you know that people are watching you? What if you are at a dinner with other people, and normally, you pray before you eat. But tonight, you’re eating with people that aren’t Christians, and aren’t interested in becoming Christian. What would you do? Would you pray? You don’t have to stop the meal and make a big spectacle of yourself. But would you pause, fold your hands, look down, close your eyes, and just for a few moments, silently thank God for the food he has given you? Would you do that, even though you know that people will be watching? Or, do you hide your faith? Maybe skip praying, or pray in a real secret way, so that no one can see what you are doing?

This is a sin that we often fall into. God has placed us into a country where we are free to express our religious beliefs, but we are cowards. We hide our beliefs. We make up excuses about not wanting to offend anyone, but we are just plain cowards. We read the Bible when no one is looking. We pray when no one is looking. We only talk about our beliefs around other church people. “People are watching,” we say to ourselves, “and I’m afraid of what might happen if people notice my faith.”

How good it is, that we have a God who forgives us. Our Savior Jesus Christ, is the same God that Daniel prayed to. He doesn’t punish us for our sins of weaknesses. He doesn’t punish us for our shortcomings. Instead, Jesus Christ forgives us. Jesus Christ is not just a picture on the wall. He is our God, and he proved his love to us when he came down to this world as a man, not to punish us, but to work out our salvation. He allowed himself to be killed on a cross, and this was his way of paying for our sins. And then he rose from the dead, proving that he really is our God, and that our sins really are forgiven. You are completely and totally forgiven for all the times you have covered up our faith. Christ has paid for that sin on the cross. And now, he gives you the strength to become more like Daniel, to live your Christian faith openly in your life.

Daniel did that. And, thus, he was thrown into the lion’s den. But here’s where we learn our second lesson for today, and that lesson is this . . .

As We Serve God Openly, He Is Watching (vss. 17-27).

After throwing Daniel into the lion’s den, the king couldn’t sleep. His conscience wouldn’t let him rest, because he knew that he had sentenced an innocent man to death. Early in the morning, the king ran to the lion’s den, and listen to his words in verse 20: “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom your serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?” Look at Daniel’s reply, in verse 21: “O king, live forever! My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions.” God had been watching. “They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, O king.” By saving Daniel from the lions, God declared that Daniel was innocent of any wrong doing. The king’s servants pulled Daniel out of the lion’s den, and to their shock and amazement, they found no scratches on him – nothing at all.

After executing the enemies of Daniel, the king drafted a new decree, a new law. Here we see proof, again, that God was watching over this entire situation. Listen to what God caused this pagan king to write, in verse 26: “I decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel.” The decree goes on to describe God as a living God, whose kingdom will last forever, who rescues and saves his people. This pagan king is describing Jesus Christ to a tee. How could such a chain of events happen? It doesn’t make sense, until you realize that God was watching over the entire situation, and God was using these circumstances ultimately to glorify his name. Because of what happened, people all over the kingdom learned about the God of Daniel. People all over the kingdom heard this description of Jesus Christ, the God who saves, whose kingdom lasts forever.

Remember in your life, that as you serve God openly, God is watching over the entire situation. Things may not seem to go very smoothly. You many find yourself in a lion’s den, but maybe not a real one. But perhaps someday, as you openly live your faith, you may find yourself in a place, or in a situation, where things aren’t going well. The conversation has turned sour. People are walking away. There doesn’t seem to be any hope, any solution – nowhere to turn, nowhere to go. “How can this be happening to me,” you might wonder, “when I’ve been serving God openly all my life?” Perhaps Daniel wondered the same thing.

Remember, though, that God is watching over everything that happens to you. Every conversation you have, every activity you’re involved in. And God promises to work everything for your good and for the good of others. Look at Daniel – after it was all over, everyone knew about the true God. Perhaps through you, as you openly live your faith, someone else might learn about the true God who does so many amazing things on behalf of his people.

Notice the similarities between Daniel and Jesus: Both were falsely accused, innocent men sentenced to death. But unlike Daniel, Jesus died at the hand of the executioner. And unlike Daniel, Jesus was God, and rose from the dead. His death has washed all our sins away. Both Daniel and Jesus emerged alive. And because of both, God was glorified.

It is my prayer today that God would give to us the heart of Daniel. A heart that is courageous enough to openly worship God, even when people are watching. A heart that trusts that God is watching, even when things look difficult. That is the heart of Daniel. May God give us that same heart. Amen.