by Tony Perkins
“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, as was his custom since early days.” (Daniel 6:10)
Not only had Daniel survived a change in administrations, he was promoted to one of the three presidents or chief overseers under Darius, the Mede king who defeated the Chaldeans and killed Belshazzar in 539 BC, whom Daniel had also served. Darius must have been impressed with the wisdom and résumé of Daniel to have picked a captive from the conquered region of Jerusalem as his top ruler. The words written by Solomon some four hundred years before explain the selection well: “Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before unknown men” (Proverbs 22:29).
Daniel is a great example of how God exalts those who faithfully serve Him even in the most hostile of environments. But this blessing and promotion by God does not come without detractors. Shortly after the promotion party, the other members of the triumvirate and a number of the regional leaders began looking for dirt on Daniel with the purpose of having him removed or at least diminishing his influence with Darius, which appeared to be significant. Nothing could be found. Daniel was above reproach.
Daniel 6:5 says, “Then these men said, ‘We shall not find any charge against this Daniel unless we find it against him concerning the law of his God.’” In other words, “We’ve got to find a way to turn his devotion to his God, which has apparently prospered him, into a liability.”
Their scheming minds devised a plan. Stoke the king’s ego and get him to sign a royal, irreversible, non-amendable statute that declares that no one within the kingdom can petition any god or man but King Darius for thirty days. It worked and he signed it. The overt persecution and prosecution of followers of the one true God was now a national policy. See a parallel to today’s America?
How did Daniel respond? Did he comply? Did he shrink back and hide his faith? No. Daniel, though a captive in a foreign land, feared God more than any man. Yes, he had a lot to lose, chiefly his life since this was a capital offense, but he was more fearful of displeasing the One who had saved him than one who had the power to kill him.
“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, as was his custom since early days” (verse 10).
You know the rest of the story. The conspirators now had what they needed. They took the evidence to Darius, and the king reluctantly complied and had Daniel placed in the lions’ den. After spending a sleepless and restless night, the king was all too happy when God shut the mouths of the lions and delivered Daniel, his trusted servant, alive and well. Those seeking to ensnare Daniel were then thrown into the pit they had planned for Daniel, and the king declared what is latent in the heart of every human: there is a God that is above all, who is to be feared.
There are a few key aspects of Daniel’s response that are instructive to us in the increasingly similar times in which we find ourselves today, where there is tolerance for almost everything but devotion to the one true God.
First, Daniel fully perceived the significance of the conspiracy against him and the pending consequences for praying to God, yet he did not yield to the political or cultural pressure. Why?
Daniel had a greater fear of not pleasing God than he had a fear of the displeasure of the latest king on the scene. God had established a track record in Daniel’s life. Over and over, from the very beginning when he was taken captive as a youth in 605 BC, Daniel had found God’s favor as he was faithful to God. Similar to how David recounted God’s deliverance from the lion and the bear in order to gain confidence to face Goliath, Daniel was confident in the hand of God to protect him from the harms of this world or to promote him to the next. But regardless, he would not deny Him.
What’s your track record with God?
Each time we face one of these spiritual “bears” or “lions,” our faith in God increases. But we have to be faithful to God to experience His intervening favor.
Secondly, the character of Daniel’s prayer is very instructive: it’s courageously conspicuous. Daniel continued what was his custom, praying three times a day. Herein lies the key to his courage. He wasn’t making a political statement; he was exercising what our own founding fathers recognized as an inalienable right that comes not from government but from God—the liberty to worship God. Daniel had the courage to stand before men because he bowed before God, not just when the heat was on, but from the moment he saw the light of God’s grace as a youth.
His public prayer was not a statement of defiance against the king, but a statement of dependence upon the King. In Daniel’s day, as our own, the political and cultural environment was clearly hostile toward those who sought to live out their faith in the one true God. Daniel was not seeking to impose his religion on anyone, but rather he simply desired and expected accommodation for his faith.
And finally, Daniel prevailed and, as a result, prospered as he confidently relied, not upon his own power or political connections, but upon the omnipotence of God. With a heart of gratitude he bowed before God, even as the lions roared, because Daniel knew the key to silencing fear.
Do you have that kind of relationship with your heavenly Father? If not, you can.
Adapted from No Fear: Real Stories of a Courageous New Generation Standing for Truth. Copyright © 2015 by Anthony R. Perkins. Published by WaterBrook, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.
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