Introduction: Patterns in Scripture.
If anyone has been a Christian for a season time, read the Holy Scriptures, then they have probably noticed certain patterns across the scope of the Bible. One of those patterns is many times God’s people experience intense suffering and torment. Sometimes it is a result of their sinful choices, but other times it is the result of sinful choices of others. Today we will see the latter. We will see an elderly godly man of character face religious persecution because of many reasons. It is my hope today we will see life lessons we can learn from Daniel. I think in his life we can see common patterns we will face if we faithfully stand up for our faith. But the one thing I want us to remember today is…
Theme: Faithful people will be delivered.
1. Faithful People Are Distinguished And Despised—Daniel 6.1-18.
Daniel The Distinguished
At the end of Daniel 5 we saw the end was drawing near for the Babylonian empire. God used Daniel to warn Belshazzar that his end was coming. We are told in Daniel 5.30 that after the warning Belshazzar was assassinated that very night. Immediately a new empire was established. Darius the Mede was placed as the new ruler of Babylon. We are not sure who Darius is in human history. The reason for this confusion is in our current historical context we know the king of the Medo-Persian empire at this time was a man named Cyrus. Darius could have been another name for him or someone he put in place to rule the region.
With that said, in Daniel 6 we see Darius establishing a new political system. Darius decided to put governors across the region, but 3 high officials (Dan 6.1). One of those high officials ended up being Daniel (Dan 6.2). Before we continue we should note that under Cyrus’ rule many Israelites were given permission to return to Jerusalem to help rebuild the temple of God:
“Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever is among you of all his people, may his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and rebuild the house of the Lord, the God of Israel—he is the God who is in Jerusalem.”—Ezra 1.2-3
For some reason Daniel decided not to go back to Jerusalem. No one knows why, but my suspicion is Daniel believed he could do more here than in Jerusalem.
Daniel is a model of what it looks like to have QUALITY—READ Daniel 6.3. There was something about Daniel that stood out—he had that “X” factor. Daniel was a superb politician—he had a unique skill in it. He knew this. We were told all the way back in Daniel 1.17 he had this, and we have seen him use that God given gift several times up to this point. I think this is one reason he wanted to stay. Daniel wanted to us his gift to help his people, but also other people. Daniel cared about human flourishing. May the LORD gives us more politicians like Daniel. May the LORD gives us many people who have the right skills to pastor, be engineers, musicians, parents, and so much more. Our world is longing for people who know what they are doing. Our world is longing for “distinguished people.” But are world has several skillful people who are shady.
Daniel The Despised
Daniel not only had skill or QUALITY, but he also had INTEGRITY—READ Daniel 6.4. But the integrity of Daniel led to jealously, bitterness, gossip, and scheming plots focused on Daniel. Many times we are tempted to believe everyone wants to hang out with the quality guy or gal, but that is not the case. This is not only time in Scripture this happens. Cain was jealous of Abel, Joseph’s brothers were jealous of him, Saul plotted against David, and so one and so forth. Jesus once told us this:
“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”—John 15.18-19
Friends, having people who hate you is hard (and trust me it is really hard), but having people who don’t is worse. Having people who despise us is common among God’s people. We need to make sure they despise for the right reasons:
But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God's will, than for doing evil.—I Peter 3.14-17
It is not uncommon to be slandered or reviled by people, but Scriptures warns us to make sure it is for a righteous reason. In Psalm 25 David teaches us that we can know we are not without fault, we can know we are sinful, but we can also know our enemies are falsely accusing us. And why do they do this? The same reason we see here in Daniel 6—they are jealous, full of envy and bitterness. They whisper in dark corners plotting against others.
As move toward the end of this section what we see is Daniel’s enemies could find no fault in him so the decide to attack him through his religion and a loophole in the law of the land—READ Daniel 6.5-9. Daniel’s enemies show how trivial they are because they use racist remarks—READ Daniel 6.13.
They knew Daniel would never go along with their plot. They knew the life style habits of Daniel. They knew Daniel was a disciplined man—READ Daniel 6.10. The key phrase is, “as he had done previously.” Nothing had changed for Daniel. He was practicing his religion in the privacy of his own home and these men turn him in. When it is reported to Darius he is deeply disturbed, because he knew Daniel was a high quality employee. Darius knew Daniel had quality, integrity and discipline. Daniel 6.14 tells us Darius labored hard to save his friend, but could not find a way. Daniel was delivered over to the authorities and thrown into a lion’s den as punishment.
2. Faithful People Experience Holistic Deliverance—Daniel 6.19-28.
We can tell Darius truly cares for Daniel—READ Daniel 6.18. So when the morning comes Darius races (Dan 6.19) to the den and says—READ Daniel 6.20. Daniel immediately answers the king and is once again proclaiming the greatness of his God. Darius is actually overjoyed! While Daniel was delivered over to his enemies, God delivered Daniel.
All throughout the wisdom literature we read about warnings to our enemies. God warns our enemies that if they are not careful the traps they set for us will come on them:
They set a net for my steps; my soul was bowed down. They dug a pit in my way, but they have fallen into it themselves.—Psalm 57.6
Whoever misleads the upright into an evil way will fall into his own pit, but the blameless will have a goodly inheritance.—Proverbs 28.10
This happens to Daniel’s opponents—READ Daniel 6.24. The pit Daniel’s enemies set for him they have been thrown into it.
All of this is a wonderful story, but we must never forget we are not Daniel. Daniel is a type of Christ. Truly Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the One who has lived the perfectly righteous life we never could. Jesus is the faithful One. Jesus had perfect quality, perfect integrity, and perfect discipline. Even though Jesus was without fault He was despised and delivered into the hands of His enemies. The crushing blow of these enemies was the crushing blow of God, to once and for all, destroy the greatest enemy—SIN. We are the oppressors, plotters, accusers, jealous, vengeful, wicked enemies in this story. But God in loving kindness delivered His Son over to His enemies to take on our punishment.
What should are our response be to this? It should be the same result we see in Darius—READ Daniel 6.25-27. If we truly believe we are as bad as Scripture describes us, then we should have the humbling joy Darius has. We should be ready to proclaim to ever people, nation, language, and all who dwell on the earth—“The God of Daniel delivers!” We can go out into the world “with songs of joy!”