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In the Lions' Den - Part 1

Tom Pennington Daniel 6


Tonight we come to Daniel 6 and to one of the most famous chapters and stories in all of the Bible. It is of course the account of Daniel and the lion's den. In fact, if I say to someone, "Daniel and..." Most people will say, what? "The Lion's Den." Now if you've been in church for years, as many of you have, you've read or heard this story doubtless countless times. But let me ask you a question, if I brought you on the stage tonight and stood you here next to me and put a mic in front of your mouth and said, "Ok, what is the point of Daniel 6?" What would you say? You see, most people, they know the story, but they're really confused about the point. Sadly, most people think the point is Daniel. Let me just remind you of the big picture. When it comes to the Scripture, the great men and women of the Bible are not the point. They're not even the heroes. God is the hero of every story because to whatever extent they are great, to whatever extent they are faithful, it's all God. It's all grace, it's all His goodness. And so, the point of this is not Daniel. Let me give you the primary message of Daniel 6, it's this: God is sovereign (that fits, of course, the theme of this entire book), God is sovereign over the persecution of His people. If that sounds strangely familiar, it should, it's like chapter 3. But I would add this because I think it is a little more specific: God is sovereign over the persecution of His people even when it comes through the malicious use of unjust laws. God is sovereign over the persecution of His people even when it comes through the malicious use of unjust laws.

This chapter, as I said, is parallel to chapter 3, where you have the fiery furnace. Both of them deal with God's sovereignty over persecution. There are differences though, the first time it's persecution from the kingdom of Babylon. The second time, as we find it here in chapter 6, it's persecution from a new empire that has just arisen, Persia. But there's another difference as well, and that is, in chapter 3, the persecution came from Nebuchadnezzar, from the capricious decision of a nearly all-powerful ruler. Here in chapter 6, it comes from the calculating, deceptive use of governmental law designed to persecute God's people.

Now before I begin to examine the chapter in detail, I need to first step back and handle a key issue. And that is the identity of one of the main characters, Darius the Mede. In fact, look at chapter 5, verse 31, as I mentioned to you last time, the Hebrew text attaches chapter 5, verse 31 actually to chapter 6. So look at it for a moment, "So Darius the Mede received the kingdom at about the age of sixty-two." On October 12, 539 B.C. when the Medo-Persian Empire took over Babylon and ransacked the city, put to death its last acting king, Belshazzar, this occurred, Darius the Mede. Who is this man, Darius the Mede? There has been extensive debate over his identity. It's not absolutely clear which historical person from secular history this is. Now, there have been a number of solutions proposed, or ideas as to who this is. Let me just give you the three that are out there.

The first of them is thoroughly liberal, and that is, Darius the Mede is merely literary fiction, he didn't really exist, he just is sort of a fictional character to present a point that Daniel wants to present. Obviously, this is unacceptable. It is unacceptable for two reasons: one, this is historical narrative, it claims to be a narrative of true historical events. And since the Bible claims that it is without error, that it presents the truth as the truth, as we just sang it together. Our Lord affirms it in Matthew 5 that, "not a single small Hebrew letter, not a single stroke of a letter will disappear, until all is fulfilled." It's all the truth, it must be received as such. In addition, this is a ridiculous argument because frankly, even though we are not sure yet who this is, until 150 years ago, there was no evidence for Belshazzar, and now there's countless pieces of evidence. History has now validated it, so I mention it just because it's out there, and you need to be aware of it.

But let me give you the next two solutions which are the primary conservative solutions as to who Darius is. The second view says that Darius is Gaubaruv or Gobryas the Governor of Babylon who was mentioned in the Nabonidus Chronicle and other ancient texts. Now, I am not going to take a lot of time with this, but let me just give you briefly the arguments for why some say this must be who it is. Cyrus did appoint him as Governor of Babylon after the city was taken. Gaubaruv installed sub-governors in Babylon and that's mentioned here in our text. The phrase in chapter 5, verse 31 "received the kingdom" may mean that he received it from a superior and so people argue, "Well that must mean that it was Cyrus giving it to him." The expression in chapter 9, verse 1, that Darius was made ruler may imply the same thing. Darius could have legitimately been called King if he oversaw all of the previous empire under Cyrus. And then, chapter 5, verse 31 finally says that Darius was 62, some of you are going to be offended by this, and Gaubaruv is called, a man well-advanced in years. So, those are the arguments some put forward for this view, that is was the Governor of Babylon that was appointed by Cyrus.

The third view, however, and that is Darius is actually a title for Cyrus himself, the first ruler of the Medo-Persian Empire and again, there are several reasons for this. It wasn't uncommon for rulers to have dual titles and Cyrus, you remember, was king over two kingdoms: the Median kingdom and the Persian kingdom. So it wouldn't be surprising if he was called Cyrus the Persian, and Darius the Mede. Those are both titles. In addition Daniel 9:1 says that Darius was, "of Median descent." Well, what about Cyrus? Well Cyrus' father was Persian, but his mother was Median and in Jewish thinking, if there was a marriage with two different nationalities, then the mother's descent was how the person was described. And so it wouldn't be unusual for a Jewish writer, Daniel, to describe him by his mother's nationality and call him Darius the Mede. Also, dual titles fit the book of Daniel, I mean it's written in two languages, right? You have Hebrew at the beginning and end, you have Aramaic in the middle. Daniel and his friends all have two names, so it wouldn't be unusual. Cyrus would have been about 62 years of age around the time that Babylon fell. Cyrus, also we know, stayed in Babylon during the winters, over the long period of the winters, and so it could fit the story. In addition, if you look at chapter 6, verse 28, it could be translated this way, "Daniel enjoyed success in the reign of Darius [and the way it's translated in our Bible says] "and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian." But the Aramaic word there could be translated even in the reign of Cyrus the Persian, meaning they're one and the same person. In chapter 11, verse 1, two ancient Jewish sources, including the Septuagint, replace Darius in the Hebrew text with the name, Cyrus. So those are reasons that are put forward. I think the last two are possible; it could have been the Governor, Gaubaruv, or it could just be another name for Cyrus. We can't be absolutely certain. Perhaps over time there will be archaeological discoveries that make it clear as to which of these it was or perhaps a third option we don't know about now.

But, with that cared for, let's look at the chapter itself. Let's see what Daniel has to teach us about God's sovereignty over the persecution of his people and specifically that persecution that comes at us, not from some capricious ruler, that happens in certain places and times, but more to our context, when laws are used to persecute God's people. So let's start out, as Daniel does here, first of all, by looking at two common causes of judicial persecution, we see it in verses 1-5. Obviously, there can be many reasons for persecution that comes through the courts and through the laws of the land, but Daniel touches on two here that are extremely common.

First of all, jealousy over the success of God's people. This is often what motivates the persecution of God's people. Let's look at it together, notice verse 1, "It seemed good to Darius to appoint 120 satraps over the kingdom, that they would be in charge of the whole kingdom." Now, the Greek historian Herodotus, tells us that the Persian Empire, which up to that point it was the largest of all of the empires, the largest footprint. He tells us that it was divided into 20 regions or satrapies. The fifth of those 20 regions included the land of Israel, also included Phoenicia and Cyprus. Now here we learn that those 20 regions of Persia were further divided and were overseen by lesser officials, 120 satraps. By the way, that is not a word that is used all of the time probably. The Aramaic word means literally protector of the kingdom. These weren't high-ranking officials, obviously, there are 120 of them, instead they are lower officials who ruled over smaller territories. Verse 2 says, "and over them [over the 120 satraps] there were three commissioners (of whom Daniel was one)." Under Darius, you have Darius, which let's assume for our sake, I tend to lean toward his being Cyrus, this just being another title for him, but under Darius, there were three administrators or presidents. And, one of those three administrators was Daniel.

Now think about that for a moment. That is really an amazing thing that God has done. He survived one kingdom, has entered another and has not only entered into it with his head, but he is one of the three top officials under Darius. Darius appointed these three, notice verse 2 says, "that these satraps might be accountable to them and the king might not suffer loss." So the 120 satraps were accountable for all of their activities to these three men. We don't know if they were divided evenly, or perhaps 40 each or if instead it was based on territory and size. We just can't be sure, but this is how it was structured and notice their purpose ultimately was to make sure that Persia might not suffer loss. You know what that means; it means that all of the taxes were collected and there wasn't corruption, siphoning off money from the nation. You know some things are delightfully the same from age to age. There's bureaucracy and there are taxes and there are people in place to try to make sure that all that money doesn't go where it shouldn't go.

Now Daniel doesn't tell us how Cyrus originally came to know him. But it makes sense, doesn't it? I mean Daniel had served extensively at a very high level during the reign of one of history's greatest kings. It was well known he had demonstrated great wisdom and skill and, interestingly enough, Cyrus and the Persians had a policy of using the local people that could be trusted and that ingratiated them to the nations they took over. And so, this is what happens in God's providence. Verse 3, "Then this Daniel began distinguishing himself among the commissioners and satraps because he possessed an extraordinary spirit." The more Darius observed Daniel, the more impressed he became. The reason that he was impressed was notice what it says, literally, "an exceptional spirit was in him." Can't be exactly sure what that means, it might be a reference to he had a great attitude. It might reference his superior abilities to solve problems and to deal with issues and to deal with people. It might also imply that the reason for his great wisdom was a connection to the gods, but regardless, Darius saw something in this man. Verse 3 goes on to say, "and the king planned to appoint him over the entire kingdom." Darius was so impressed, think about this, that he planned to place the 80 year old Daniel under him, over the other two presidents, and over all 120 satraps. What an incredible, incredible record Daniel had, that God had exalted him in this way.

Verse 4 says, "Then [notice that word, underscore it, then...] the commissioners and satraps began trying to find a ground of accusation against Daniel." The word then implies that it was the king's plan to exalt him over them that aroused their jealousy and therefore their conspiracy against him. Understand folks, this is extremely typical. This is how persecution against Christians often works. It often works this way in school. It often works this way in your workplace. Works this way in your community and in the culture at large. It begins with jealousy over the success of God's people as they work hard with integrity and God blesses their endeavors. Jealousy begins.

There's a second common cause behind judicial persecution and it is a resentment over the integrity of God's people. A resentment over the integrity of God's people. Notice verse 4, "Then the commissioners and satraps began trying to find a ground of accusation against Daniel." The other two commissioners, the other two presidents, however you want to name them, Daniel's peers and some of the 120 satraps, probably not all of them. It's probably a small group likely the ones near the capital city of Babylon. They began inspecting Daniel's government work. They were looking for either a flaw in his character or a deficiency in his professional skills. Verse 4 says, "but they could find no ground of accusation or evidence of corruption." These government leaders scrutinized the work life of Daniel and they could find no ground of accusation or evidence of corruption. Now for someone at his level of authority, that was truly remarkable.

The reason they couldn't find anything on Daniel was because of what was true of Daniel. Notice how verse 4 goes on, "inasmuch as [here's why they couldn't find anything] he was faithful [that is, he was trustworthy in his duties], and no negligence was to be found in him." In other words, he wasn't lazy, he didn't neglect his tasks. He worked hard and, "no corruption was found in him." In other words, there was absolutely no personal or political corruption, he was completely honest in his work. I love what one commentator writes, "Daniel 6 begins with a miracle: a squeaky clean politician. His colleagues and enemies had done a security check on Daniel and had scoured government files, but had come up with nothing." Oh, for a politician like that! But, don't miss the point here; this also explains, in part, why he was hated. And this is why Christians have a hard time even in the workplace. It is because he tolerated no corruption, and when it was necessary, particularly when it was under him, he exposed it. In other words, he was a whistleblower. And people who are into corruption and who are lazy and don't want to work, don't like people who shame them.

I remember when I worked in the shipyards, when I was working my way through college and seminary, I would come home in the summers and I would work long 15-16 days in the shipyards wiring steel hulled boats. And you're a Christian, you're honest, I wasn't stealing anything from the company, and I wasn't stealing time. When I was on the job, I was working, I was working hard. And I remember being down in the hulls, like in the engine room of some of those large, we wired 175 foot steel hulled ships or boats. And I remember being down in the engine room and I am working away, I am nailing up electrical panels and running wire and I am working my way through, doing what I am supposed to do, and all of these guys from various trades were down in that engine room, because there is a fan blowing, and they are talking, and sipping their drink and just enjoying one another. And, all of a sudden, the boss walks down the stairs, you see the boots start down the stairs, and, all of a sudden, they're working hard. They're into it. But I remember, the thing that I heard again and again during those summers, was, "Pennington, just ease up, slow down." Why? Because they didn't like someone working hard, it made them look bad. And that's what you have here with Daniel. This is part of why he was hated.

Verse 5 says, "Then these men said, 'We will not find any ground of accusation against this Daniel unless we find it against him with regard to the law of his God.'" They finally determined, the only way they could get Daniel was through his religious beliefs, "the law of his God." And since he was a strict monotheist, they go right at his refusal to worship other gods. Now, I think there's a really important point here lurking just behind the scene. Daniel clearly did not hide his religious convictions in his work. Obviously, he is in a different country than his own. He was taken captive, he is there in exile, and yet, he lived out his faith so much in his work that the people around him knew that he was committed to YHWH. He was no secret disciple. He was unashamed to let others know about his devotion to the God of Israel. And, here is something else they knew about Daniel, they knew that Daniel was so personally committed to the law of his God, that he would not compromise regardless of the consequences. They knew that, how did they know that? Because they had seen it, again and again in lesser ways.

You know there are so many lessons here about work. Folks, hard work, excellence, integrity are not only required by God of us, but frankly, they are always noticed even by unbelievers. Darius got it, he saw it, so do the bosses in your workplace. Believers should distinguish themselves by the diligent use of their gifts, by hard work, by integrity, by trustworthiness, by godly attitudes.

You're there in your workplace for two reasons; well there are others, but two stand out to me. One is you are there to serve Jesus Christ. That's what both Ephesians and Colossians say: in your work, you are truly serving Christ. So what does your real boss think about your work? The second reason you are there is in order to put your God on display for others. What do others think about your faith as a result of the quality, integrity, and attitudes you display at work. Negatively, I think we learn from this text, that our enemies should not be able to find an accusation to use against us. We should not be guilty of dishonesty, of disloyalty, or of negligence. And positively, our conduct should be such, that the only way our enemies can attack us is our faith and what Scripture teaches. That's true in the workplace as it was for Daniel. It's also true in the culture at large as it also was for Daniel. So, those are two common causes of judicial persecution: jealousy over the success of God's people, and resentment over the integrity of God's people. And if you haven't experienced those, you will. because these are a constant reality.

Secondly, I want you to notice, the malicious use of judicial persecution. Into that context comes people who want to hurt God's people. Verse 6, "Then these commissioners and satraps came by agreement to the king." Daniel says this cabal came by agreement. The Aramaic word means to act in concert or harmony. In other words, this was a true conspiracy, fueled by both Daniel's two peers, and by some of his employees. Verse 6 goes on to say, "and they spoke to the king as follows: 'King Darius, live forever! [there's the normal polite greeting, and after that they roll out the conspiracy]. All of the commissioners of the kingdom, the prefects and the satraps, the high officials and the governors have consulted together [they are lying through their teeth, because we are told already that it's the two presidents other than Daniel and some of the satraps. In addition, we know one isn't included...who? Daniel. So they're lying as they present this proposal. Verse 7 goes on to say] we have consulted together that the king should establish a statute and enforce an injunction that anyone who makes a petition to any god or man besides you, O king, for thirty days...'"

Stop there for a moment. Just consider the statute itself. This law contained two basic stipulations: everyone would be forbidden from making a petition to any god directly, and two, everyone would be forbidden from making a petition to a man. What's that about, I mean you cannot ask your neighbor for a hoe? Not at all, that's not the idea. This is probably referring to making a petition of a priest who then offered the petition to the god, this was common in the ancient world. So for 30 days then, the point of this law, was that Darius was to be the sole priest and mediator between the people of Persia, the people of Babylon, the old empire of Babylon and the gods. If I could put it this way, for 30 days there was to be only one mediator between the gods and man, the man Darius. All their prayers were to be offered through him rather than directly to the gods or through the normal priest.

Now, what is this about? Why would they have suggested this? And why would Darius have gone along? Well first of all understand, this wasn't about worshipping Darius. There is absolutely no historical evidence that the Persian kings of this era demanded worship. In fact, based on what we know about Persia at this time period, it is likely that Darius was a Zoroastrian. Instead, what's happening here, is he was proclaiming himself as the sole mediator between all the peoples who were subject to him and their gods. Why would he do that? For purely political reasons. This was, just like some of the other things we have seen in Daniel, this was a political ploy. What they're suggesting the king do in this law, is to provide a test of the people's loyalty to this new regime that has just been in place under a year. Test their loyalty, don't have them pray directly to their gods, or take their petitions to their normal priests. Demand that it come through you and that you will serve as their priest, taking their request to the gods.

Those who were guilty of breaking this law, it's suggested by this cabal, notice, would face a gruesome fate. Verse 7, they, "shall be cast into the lion's den." Obviously, I mean you don't have to be a NASA scientist here to figure out, that their bodies would be ripped to pieces and they would be eaten. This was not uncommon in Persia, in fact, one writer calls the many different forms of execution that the Persians used, "almost exquisitely horrible." In fact, it's from the Persians that crucifixion first came. The Aramaic word translated den, refers to a large pit either natural or man-made and we'll talk more about that when we get to Daniel being thrown into it. But this is what they are suggesting, this law.

Verse 8, "Now, O King, establish the injunction and sign the document so that it may not be changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which may not be revoked." According to the law of the Medes and the Persians, once he signed this document into law, it could not be repealed even by him. In other words, they were driven, not by capricious decisions of all powerful rulers, like Nebuchadnezzar, but by law. There is secular and historical evidence confirming this was the case. One commentator writes this, "Diodorus of Sicily reports the case of a man put to death under Darius III, [who was a little later than this], even though he was known to be perfectly innocent. Darius III immediately repented and blamed himself for having committed such a great error, but it was impossible to have it undone, what had been done by royal authority." That's how the laws of the Medes and the Persians went. By the way, this wasn't unusual. The Law Code of Hammurabi, which you read about in school, it also declared that once a judge had issued his verdict, he could not reverse his decision.

Verse 9, Darius buys it, "Therefore, King Darius signed the document, that is, the injunction." Folks, do you see what is going on here? Don't miss the point that government and unbelievers always have and always will continue to use judicial persecution against Christians. In cultures where rulers can't make capricious decisions to throw us in jail, they will use law. So how do we respond? Well, Daniel shows us because in verse 10, we see the believer's response to judicial persecution. Now when Daniel knew that the document was signed, he entered his house. Now, in his roof chamber he had windows opened toward Jerusalem. Stop there for a moment. When Daniel learned that the law had passed, he absolutely refused to change his spiritual habits or even to alter them in such a way as to try to hide from those who were trying to observe him.

Now think about how Daniel could have justified himself. Remember, this law is only enforced for how long? 30 days, one month. So he could have said, "Look, you know what I'll do? I think for the next 30 days, I'll just pray in my heart. Or I'll find another room in my house, a private room out of view and I'll do that just until the law expires." Now there's a lot of discussion about this, but I personally think that would have been fine. That wouldn't have been a breech of God's law, it wouldn't have been cowardice on his part. I mean, remember Paul when he was in danger, they let him down out of the wall by a basket. And he fled the persecution, so it's ok to take certain measures for your safety. So what is Daniel doing here? Why didn't he do that? I can't prove this to you for sure, but I think it was his testimony to the conspirators. He knew what they were trying to do, he knew they were after him and he wanted them to see his confidence in his God, his trust in his God that he would not stop worshipping his God even with this law- whatever it cost him.

Now, because of Daniel, and God had sent him there before the real exile had occurred the major exile in 586 B.C., we know that the exiles living in the former Babylonian Empire had their own homes. And in Daniel's case, it was a nice home. With someone in his position, there was an upstairs room, likely a room on a flat roof. With a hot climate in that area, this elevated room would normally have latticed windows so that the breeze could blow through and keep it cooler. It was also generally more private than the downstairs quarters with servants and others. And he goes up there and notice his windows were opened towards Jerusalem. If you go back to 1 Kings 8, you don't need to turn there, but if you look at 1 Kings 8, he talks about people praying toward Jerusalem. And since that time, the Jews have followed the practice of praying toward Jerusalem. That's because Solomon's Temple was there. And Solomon's Temple was the throne room of YHWH, Israel's God. It symbolized His presence. And so it's not about home, it's about that's where God's throne room is and just like when I am there, I go up to the temple to pray, I can't be there, but I direct my mind and heart and even my eyes toward the temple.

Verse 10 says, "and he continued kneeling on his knees three times a day." Daniel apparently followed David's prescription for daily prayer. Here's what David said in Psalm 55:17, "Evening and morning and at noon, I will complain and murmur, and He will hear my voice." So morning, noon, and evening, three times, that's apparently what Daniel did. His common posture in prayer was kneeling. There are a number of examples of people kneeling in Scripture to pray, I won't take you through them, I think you understand that. There are also plenty of examples of people standing. And a couple of cases of lying on their face on the ground. So it's not that there's one posture that's better than another, but kneeling is a common posture, why kneel? I love what Dale Ralph Davis writes, he says, "Kneeling in prayer is not a matter of indifference; it reminds you of your true position. It's as if you say, 'I am a servant, He is the King.' I do not live in a democracy, but in a monarchy. He is not my errand boy. I never present my demands. I am always a beggar at the Throne of Grace and though it is a Throne of Grace, I never forget it is a throne." This is the lesson in kneeling.

What did Daniel do during this daily practice three times a day of prayer. Well verse 10 says, "praying and giving thanks before his God, as he had been doing previously." By the way, don't miss this, Daniel believed strongly in spiritual disciplines. You know we use that expression. What are spiritual disciplines? They are simply spiritual routines and habits that you build into your daily life. Let me just ask you frankly, do you have any spiritual disciplines? Are there any routines and spiritual habits that you have built into your daily life? If you haven't, there ought to be at least two. There ought to be time in the Scripture and there ought to be time in prayer. That ought to be a regular part of your routine. Spiritual discipline, spiritual routines and habits that govern your daily life.

Now, what was Daniel praying when he was doing all of this? Well, we are going to see, in fact, turn over to Daniel 9. Daniel 9 is an example of his prayer for, in this case, his people. But ironically, look at when this prayer was written, "In the first year of Darius, who was made king over the kingdom of the Chaldeans." So when we get to chapter 9 keep in mind that we don't know if this is what he was praying on that day, but it was in that same time period. This is what he was praying for his people, for himself. The bottom line is though, Daniel refused to stop what God had commanded in His word. That meant he deliberately defied the law of the land. You say, "Wait a minute, I thought we're commanded to obey the laws of the nation in which we live?" And we are. But what happens when the laws of man conflict with the laws of God? Well Daniel teaches us here, how to respond. When the laws of government demand of us what God forbids, or forbid of us what God demands, we are required, as Daniel had to, to respectfully, graciously, disobey the government and its laws in order to obey God and then to patiently suffer the consequences of that decision. That's how Christians respond. Respectfully, graciously, disobey the government and its laws, in order to obey God, and then patiently suffer the consequences for that disobedience. There's no place in the Christian arsenal, pardon the pun, for violent rebellion. Simply and quietly do what God requires. Here's how the apostles put it in Acts 5:29, "Peter and the apostles answered [their governmental authority, the Sanhedrin] 'We must obey God rather than men.'" And when they did, what happened? They went quietly with the officials and they were beaten. They suffered the consequences patiently.

This is how we ought to respond as Christians, and this is how Christians have responded through history. Even last century, Christians in Nazi Germany, hid Jews from the Nazis during World War II. In America today, you have read, as I have, that Christians are increasingly being called on to make these kind of decisions. Now, I believe in our lifetimes, many of us here, will find ourselves in such a place- where the laws of the land require of us what God forbids, or forbid from us what God requires. And we will have to do what Daniel did, respectfully, graciously, disobey the law in order to obey God, and patiently suffer the consequences. Daniel 6:10 shows us how to do that.

The emphasis of the next section of this chapter, I'll call the relentless enforcement of judicial persecution. The people who instigate this kind of persecution, they are relentless and we see it in our culture already. They will not let up, they will not let go. And you see it with these people, verse 11, "Then these men came by agreement and found Daniel making petition and supplication before his God." The reality behind that verse is frankly both startling and childish. Here are adult, high-level government officials spying on Daniel to catch him praying. And they do. Now when we reconstruct the timeline based on other comments in this section, it appears they caught Daniel praying at the noon hour. And specifically notice they caught him, notice what's said here, "making petition," that's obvious. We don't know exactly what he was praying, he obviously knew about the circumstance and so he might have been praying for deliverance from this circumstance, this unjust law, or he might have been praying for other things.

And it says, "he was making supplication," which, in Aramaic, literally means to ask for God's grace. He was asking for grace. And verse 10 says, "as he had been doing previously." This was exactly what Daniel had done for probably about 65-70 years. Ever since he's been in Babylon, this is what he's done. But this time it was different, because it was before witnesses.

Verse 12 says, "Then they approached and spoke before the king about the king's injunction, 'Did you not sign an injunction that any man who makes a petition to any god or man besides you, O king, for thirty days, is to be cast into the lion's den?'" These wicked, conniving men, who were jealous of Daniel's success, who resented his integrity, they came to report Daniel to the king. And they did so in such a way as to set the king up. They first asked if he had issued the decree; they knew he had issued the decree. This is just to remind him, that in fact, he had done so. Then, verse 12 says, "The king replied, 'The statement is true, according to the law of the Medes and the Persians, which may not be revoked.'" Yes I did. Darius acknowledged that he had, in fact, drafted this ordinance and that he with his own hand had signed it into law. And he acknowledged that it was irrevocable. And, of course, that invites the next stage that's immediately followed by their accusations against Daniel. But watch how they say what they say, because it is intentionally crafted to make Daniel look as bad as possible. Verse 13, "Then they answered and spoke before the king, 'Daniel, [notice this] who is one of the exiles from Judah,'" what does that say? It says, "Oh by the way, he's really not one of us. I don't know why you would have put him in any position of authority. In fact, he's one of those exiles from some small, back-water nation called Judah." They obviously mentioned this to humiliate him, and to imply that since he was a foreigner, he was more likely to be disloyal to the nation and the king.

They go on, verse 13, "Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, O king." This Jewish exile did not merely disobey the law, he disrespected the king. The Aramaic expression here implies that Daniel didn't consider the king to be significant enough to pay attention to. That's the idea. "Or to the injunction which you signed." He directly disobeyed the king. He disrespected the king, and he disobeyed the king, since the law was signed with the king's own hand. "But, he keeps making his petition three times a day." You know what they're saying here, they're saying look, Daniel's disobedience to this law was not accidental, and it was not only one time. King, he is breaking this law three times a day. How could anybody so treat you? Verse 14, "Then as soon as the king heard this statement, he was deeply distressed and set his mind on delivering Daniel." That's not what you would expect to read. From what we've seen already in the book of Daniel, you would expect that he is deeply distressed because Daniel has done this to him. But that's not what happens. These conspirators undoubtedly hoped that the king would be upset, very upset, to hear about Daniel, but not for this reason. So why does Darius respond this way?

Well, likely for the very first time, Darius fully understood the devious purpose behind this law. It was born of jealousy and prejudice. And it was a devious plan to rid themselves of their rival and to promote themselves at this time. He realized he had been deceived and he has been used. It's clear from the king's response, that he has come both to respect, to admire and to like Daniel. And so, he determines, having now been trapped by this devious plan, by this unjust law designed to attack Daniel and the people of God, but specifically Daniel, he determined to find the legal loophole to deliver Daniel from what would be obviously a certain death. This likely included having the government attorney search the legal record for precedent that would somehow allow him not to enforce this law. Verse 14 says, "And even until sunset he kept exerting himself to rescue him." Apparently, we are not told, but apparently the sentence from this law had to be carried out the same day as the crime. So Darius only had until sundown and he and his lawyers make a valiant attempt from about noon when likely Daniel was discovered at his noon prayer, until sunset, the King of Persia, think about this, one of the greatest empires on the face of the planet was frantically occupied with one task: trying to save Daniel. But he found no loopholes and the vultures began to circle.

Verse 15, "Then these men came by agreement to the king and said to the king, 'Recognize O king, that it is a law of the Medes and Persians that no injunction or statute which the king establishes may be changed.'" Apparently, around sunset, the conspirators returned. They reminded the king about the law, that it could not be repealed and that Daniel had broken it in front of multiple witnesses, and the sentence must now be carried out immediately. Their devious plan for the judicial persecution of one of God's people had worked perfectly. They're now calling for his immediate execution.

We could summarize the first half of Daniel 6 with this simple statement: the world hates you. The world hates you. Why? Well, it hates you because it's the nature of unredeemed sinners to hate, period, end of sentences. Titus 3:3 says this, Paul is there urging us to be considerate to all men, to remember what we once were before our salvation, and he says, "We also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, [listen to this] spending our life in malice." [You know what malice is? It's the desire to hurt somebody. It's a kind of hatred that wants to hurt]. "Spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another." Folks that is the description of unredeemed sinners. And as I have shared with you before, if you doubt that, just go on-line and read the comments anywhere and you will see it just pouring out like vomit from their mouths.

In fact, ironically, the very first Peanuts cartoon by Charles Schulz appeared on October 2, 1950 and this is it. It makes this point in a direct, but humorous way. A boy and a girl are sitting on some steps by a sidewalk, and as Charlie Brown approaches, the boy says to the girl, "Well, here comes old Charlie Brown." As Charlie walks in front of them, the same boy says, "Good old Charlie Brown, yes sir." After Charlie is out of ear shot, the boy says, "Good old Charlie Brown, how I hate him." That is a picture of the condition of the fallen human heart. And it is a reality in the world in which we live, get used to it. If you are surrounded by unbelievers, some of them may not be as hateful and hating as others, but this is epidemic in the fallen heart. This is why the world hates us.

But there is a second reason why the world hates us and it's because it's the nature of unredeemed sinners to hate the righteous specifically. This is clear in Scripture, John 15:18-19, Jesus says,

"If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. [Now just stop there and think about that for a moment. If there was anyone ever in the world who deserved to be admired and honored and treated with respect, it was Jesus Christ and yet the world hated him. Why? Well, he goes on...] If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you."

Brothers and sisters, this is and always will be until our Lord returns, a reality. Don't expect it to be different for you. Don't expect that people are just going to love you and admire you when it's clear you're a Christian. Jesus says, if they hate me they'll hate you.

But there's another passage that drives this home, 1 John 3:12. Listen to John the Apostle, he says, "Cain, who was of the evil one and slew his brother. [I am picking up in context here] And for what reason did Cain slay his brother. Because his deeds were evil and his brothers' were righteous." This is why people of the world hate us. Because you're honest. Because you're hard working. Because you're not stealing from the company. Because you don't lie. Because you don't cheat on your spouse. Because you don't do all the things they do, and when you don't do those things, what does it do? It makes them feel, what? Guilty. And they hate that. And because of that, they hate us. So understand, this is just a reality. And because of this hatred, both the endemic hatred in the fallen heart period and the specific hatred against the righteous, you and I can expect persecution to come against us in various ways, including the oppressive and deceptive use of government laws and the judicial system. And it has already begun.

You've read some of what's going on in the country. You see this. Whether it's over the gender issue or all kinds of things. You know, I never thought I would live to a time in my life when I would be called immoral. For simply believing what the Scriptures teach, but that is where we are. So, don't be surprised by this. Don't be shocked by this. It's normal, this is the way it always goes, and there will be increasing attempts today to use local ordinances, state and federal law, and the court system to legislate and enforce a cultural agenda that stands opposed to God, and to get us to buckle under.

How should we react and think about all of this? Well Daniel explains it in the second half of chapter 6 and come back next week and we'll discover it together.

Let's pray together. Father, thank you, for the fact that you are on your throne. That you are sovereign over all things. That you are sovereign not only over us who are your people, but you are sovereign over your enemies. That you are sovereign even over persecution. The kind of devious, manipulative persecution that comes when people try to use laws to persecute your people. Father, thank you, that even if we encounter that, and Christians across our country and certainly the world, but even in our country today are facing this very thing. Lord, help us not to be surprised. And help us like Daniel did to be consistent. To just continue to live coram Deo. To live before your face. To do what is right. To do it respectfully and graciously, but to do it regardless of the consequences, and then, to patiently endure the consequences knowing that we are facing them on your behalf. Thank you for Daniel. Thank you for using him the way you did. Thank you for teaching us through him and thank you for what we have yet to learn in the second half of this wonderful chapter. In Jesus' name. Amen.


When Empires Fall - Part 2

Tom Pennington Daniel 5

In the Lions' Den - Part 1

Tom Pennington Daniel 6

In the Lions' Den - Part 2

Tom Pennington Daniel 6

More from this Series



An Introduction to Daniel

Tom Pennington Selected Scriptures

First Lessons in Sovereignty

Tom Pennington Daniel 1

God's Plan for Human History - Part 1

Tom Pennington Daniel 2

God's Plan for Human History - Part 2

Tom Pennington Daniel 2

God's Plan for Human History - Part 3

Tom Pennington Daniel 2

Through the Fire - Part 1

Tom Pennington Daniel 3

Through the Fire - Part 2

Tom Pennington Daniel 3

Through the Fire - Part 3

Tom Pennington Daniel 3

Heaven Rules - Part 1

Tom Pennington Daniel 4

Heaven Rules - Part 2

Tom Pennington Daniel 4

When Empires Fall - Part 1

Tom Pennington Daniel 5

When Empires Fall - Part 2

Tom Pennington Daniel 5

In the Lions' Den - Part 1

Tom Pennington Daniel 6

In the Lions' Den - Part 2

Tom Pennington Daniel 6

The King of Beasts - Part 1

Tom Pennington Daniel 7

The King of Beasts - Part 2

Tom Pennington Daniel 7

The King of Beasts - Part 3

Tom Pennington Daniel 7:1-28

The Ram, the Goat, and the Little Horn - Part 1

Tom Pennington Daniel 8

The Ram, the Goat, and the Little Horn - Part 2

Tom Pennington Daniel 8

The Ram, the Goat, and the Little Horn - Part 3

Tom Pennington Daniel 8

Seventy Years & Seventy Weeks - Part 1

Tom Pennington Daniel 9

Seventy Years & Seventy Weeks - Part 2

Tom Pennington Daniel 9

Seventy Years & Seventy Weeks - Part 3

Tom Pennington Daniel 9

Seventy Years & Seventy Weeks - Part 4

Tom Pennington Daniel 9

The Spiritual War Behind World History - Part 1

Tom Pennington Daniel 10

The Spiritual War Behind World History - Part 2

Tom Pennington Daniel 10

Wars, Rumors of Wars & the Last War - Part 1

Tom Pennington Daniel 11

Wars, Rumors of Wars & the Last War - Part 2

Tom Pennington Daniel 11

Wars, Rumors of Wars & the Last War - Part 3

Tom Pennington Daniel 11

The End of Time - Part 1

Tom Pennington Daniel 12:1-13

The End of Time - Part 2

Tom Pennington Daniel 12:1-13

The Book of Daniel

Tom Pennington Daniel 1-12