Daniel 6 - The Lions in God's Den

Steve Viars April 24, 1999 Daniel 6:

- Did you face any lions this week?
- I’m not asking you if you went to the zoo....I’m asking you if you faced any difficulties this week?
- All of us did....maybe I need to ask the question this way ---- What lions did you face this week?
1) Some of you are facing a job situation where there is incredible pressure.....
- your boss or administration is making some unreasonable demands.....
- or the competition is really fierce
- and every day you go into work...and you can almost hear the growling.....
- you can almost hear the sharp teeth that are set to give you a good chomp....
- its like you’re in a lion’s den.

2) Some are facing a sinful habit that is ready to pounce....
- it is like God said to Cain --- sin is crouching outside your door, ready to devour you.
- and you want to have victory....and you want to get to a better place.....
- but the power of sin and the power of your own lusts and the power of the enemy is incredible strong....
- and it is like a lion that wants to eat you up.....and some may feel like the lion is winning.....

3) Some are in a terrible scheduling jam.....
- you thought you’d be able to handle this many credit hours at the beginning of the semester....but now its crunch time....
- or you thought you could handle one more responsibility, but things are coming apart.....
- and every time you look at your Franklin Planner, it growls at you......and some would say...Franklin Planner -- I lost that several weeks ago......I think the lion ate it.

4) For others it’s a loved one.....
- their health gets worse and worse and worse....and there’s nothing you can do.....

5) For still others it’s a family situation that seems to be getting worse instead of better.....
- your spouse is cold and indifferent.....or threatening and violent.....
- or your child is rebelling and breaking your heart......
- and we’ve all seen the cartoons where a person sticks his head in a lion’s mouth and the lion chomps down....and all you see are the legs kicking up and down...and they pop out unharmed.....
- and you might say --- that’s the way I feel ---- not just like I’m in a lion’s den....I feel like I’m about half eaten.

- I’m asking you, what lions are you facing?........
- now, why would I be asking you such unusual and borderline silly questions?
- many of you already know......
- there’s someone who’s in the business of providing hope in the lion’s den.
- there’s someone who’s in the business of providing answers in the lion’s den.
- there’s someone who’s in the business of providing strength in the lion’s den.
- to find out “who”, let me invite you to open your Bible to Daniel chapter 6.
- if you’re new to this study, you’ll find the location of the book of Daniel by looking at the table of Contents at the front of your Bible.....it will tell you the exact page number the book of Daniel begins on.
- or you can just open your Bible in the middle...you’ll probably be in Psalms or Proverbs....
- just go right --- Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiates, Song of Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel....

- we’ve been studying the book of Daniel verse by verse and chapter by chapter...and today we’re looking at Daniel 6.
- for those who are new, let me set the stage so this chapter makes sense.
- Daniel was a Jewish teenager....who was deported to the country of Babylon along with some other choice young people by King Nebuchanezzar around 605 BC.
- This book is all about how Daniel and his friends were able to faithfully live for God, even though they were in a pagan culture, far away from home, and far away from parental authority and influence.
- By the time we get to chapter 6 --- Daniel is approaching the end of his life and ministry.
- 70 years have now transpired.....Daniel has served several different kings....and last week we read about how Darius the Mede had come in and conquered Babylon for the Medes and Persians.

- that’s significant for several reasons.....
1) For one, it shows the incredible accuracy of God’s Word.....remember the dream given to king Nebuchanezzar about the four kingdoms......
- already we’re seeing the transition from the kingdom of Babylon --- the head of gold...
- to the kingdom of Medo-Persia --- the shoulders and breast of silver.

2) This is also significant because it means that the nation of Israel, who have been undergoing the Babylonian captivity, have been allowed to begin returning to their homeland of Jerusalem.
- if you’re in the habit of writing in your Bible, you may want to write the words “see Ezra chapters 1 and 6”
- that’s the story of God’s people beginning to go to their homeland to rebuild the temple....which again, was in direct fulfillment of the Word of God.

3) This is also significant because it leads us to the question of --- what’s going to happen to Daniel?
- He has served God faithfully for 70 years.....
- now he is an 80 plus year old gentlemen.....
- surely now he’ll have a life of ease.....
- surely he’s faced all the challenges he’ll ever have to face.....
- surely he’ll get a little retirement place on the lake and spend time fishing or sitting on the porch dreaming about the ways things used to be.....

- let’s read and find out what happens --- READ Daniel 6.
- v.2 - so you got these 120 satraps....who are government officials who’s job it was to collect taxes and keep a semblance of order.....
- and over them was 3 governors....and its interesting that verse 2 points out that the reason you needed the governors was that it was assumed that the satraps would be dishonest....and keep money for themselves....so the governors watched the satraps so the king wouldn’t suffer significant loss.
- v. 5 - So Daniel was cramping the style of these other men because he was honest.....so their greed and corruption and gravy-train living was threatened.....
- so instead of shaping up their act....so like many individuals in that day and this.....they began attacking Daniel....and trying to discredit Daniel.
- it was all a matter of jealousy and greed --- someone has said that jealousy is the tribute that mediocrity pays to genius.

- now, I realize that some of the history may have thrown you if you’re new to studying the Bible --- but the main points are ones that everyone of us can understand...and everyone of us can apply to where we’re living today.....
- let’s spend the rest of our time looking for three principles to strengthen us in the lion’s dens of life.


I. God Can Help You Develop a Lifetime of Faithfulness.


- One of the thrusts in this text is that Daniel’s faith had stood the test of time.....
- He was not a flash in the pan.....
- he wasn’t someone who ran hard and quit

- Daniel was a lot like the Energizer Bunny -- He just kept going and going and going and going.
- and you see that being emphasized here....
- in verse 3 - he distinguished himself......it doesn’t take much to stand out from the crowd......that’s one of the great things about living in a culture that is spinning out of control....
- frankly, a little bit of honestly goes a long way.....
- a little bit of kindness goes a long way....
- a little bit of consistency and dependability go a long way.....so he distinguished himself....

- verse 3 also says that he had an excellent spirit in him.....we learned in the previous chapter that even those who didn’t know God had started saying that Daniel had the Spirit of God in him....
- so he lived in such a way that the people around would have cause to say --- what an excellent spirit.....

- of course the text also tells us that even when these enemies were scrutinizing his life....he didn’t give them any evidence.....
- verse 4 gives the amazing report --- “they could find no charge or fault, because he was faithful.”

- this faithfulness involved a firm belief in God’s Word......when Daniel prayed, which direction did he face?.....he faced toward Jerusalem......
- he knew that the promises God had made to his chosen people were true.....
- and even though they had gone through this period of judgment and purification, Daniel never questioned whether God would keep His Word.

- he was also faithful in prayer......
- these guys knew that if they were going to get Daniel on something, it would be in relationship to his God.....
- not because he had flaunted his religion....not because he rubbed someone’s face in it.....it just came out.
- its like when Pastor Goode used to take the pastoral staff down to a place in Indianapolis called Nick’s Chili......
- I could come back to the office and brush my teeth over and over and over.....but as soon as I walked in the door and gave my wife a hug....she’d say --- you guys have been to Nick’s chili, haven’t you?
- and I’d say --- how’d you know that?
- and she claimed....that the odor came through my skin.....for days.....[it was some really good chili]

- but Daniel’s faith in God was like that.....it was just a regular part of who he was, and what he did....
- and it squirted out in the way he did business, in the way he served authority [even though the authority was pagan]
- it squirted out in the way he believed and practiced God’s Word.....
- it squirted out in the faithful way he prayed....it just squirted out.....

- and the amazing thing about this is.....it didn’t just start happening yesterday.....Daniel has been living this way for over 70 years.....a godly man who stood the test of trial, and stood the test of time.

- and of course, in the final analysis, this story is not about Daniel, but about the God of Daniel....who can take a frail human being....and help that person become a faithful trophy of grace.

- friend, I’d like to ask you a question this morning.....is it the desire of your heart that you would be a man or woman of faithfulness?
- I’m not talking about “just getting by” Christianity......
- I’m not talking about McChurch.....
- I’m not talking about a person who starts fast and burns out quick......
- I’m talking about Daniel kind of faith that can stand the test of time.

- now you might say, PV, I’ve already messed up my past, and messed up my reputation, or messed up a portion of my life.....I could never be like Daniel.
- friend, listen.....God is the God of the second chance.
- God is a God of mercy and grace......
- some people come to Christ at an early age and live faithfully for him all their days like Daniel.....
- others make an absolute mess of their lives and then come to Christ later and then they faithfully for God the rest of their days.....
- the Lord can be equally glorified by men and women in each category.

- there is nothing that you could lay on the table that would cause God to shake His head and say.....sorry, there’s no place for you.
- if it is the desire of your heart to be a Daniel kind of person, and you are willing to put effort into the process in cooperation with the Spirit of God....He can and will help you develop a lifetime of faithfulness.

- Now you might say, PV, How?......what are some of the steps on the road to faithfulness?

1) Friend, it begins by knowing for sure that you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
- Christianity is not a matter of pulling oneself up by your own bootstraps.
- Christianity is coming to a place of admitting ---- I cannot be the kind of person God wants me to be in and of myself.
- I have a sinful nature, and that sin has separated me from God.....
- and I need someone who can pay for my sin and take charge of my life....

- and then there comes a point of decision.....where a person admits their sin, and trusts Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord....
- that’s what it means to become a follower of Jesus Christ.....that’s what it means to believe on Him.....

- and friend, I have to ask you --- do you know that you know that you know....?
- and if not, we’re going to give you an opportunity to make that decision to do that today.

- then it becomes a matter of beginning to cultivate your relationship with Jesus Christ....
- its like any other relationship.....you’ve got to put effort into it.....
- that’s why Paul said in I Timothy 4:7 - exercise yourself unto godliness......

- many people who call themselves Christians are not particularly faithful because they’re not working at it......they’re not putting the kind of effort into growing that God desires and a passage like Daniel chapter 6 ought to be convicting.

- around here, we’ve tried to provide all sorts of means to help God’s people grow --- and let me tell you about some of them and encourage you to participate.
- we like to think of discipleship like a funnel.......where there’s all sorts of opportunities to learn and grow, some in larger groups and some in smaller ones....
- at the head of the funnel --- our public services......
- many people would be greatly helped in their faithfulness if they would be in the public worship of the church more regularly.....some of you are just getting started at that and we’re so glad that you’re taking steps in that direction......I hope you’ll make a commitment to God about that....

- then there’s ABF’s --- Adult Bible Fellowships ---- those are groups of 30-50 people who meet together to study God’s Word and encourage one another......
- a lot of the spiritual business of this church happens right there.....
- that’s where relationships are made....
- that’s where spiritual gifts are identified and service opportunities are communicated....
- if you’re not in an ABF, I’d like to challenge you to try one for 4 weeks and see what impact that has on your faithfulness.

- we also have programs like Men of Faith and Women of Faith which are smaller groups designed for Bible study and fellowship.

- then going further down the funnel are our point man groups and ladies’ Bible studies.
- many of our ABF’s are just starting their small groups and you could get involved in one.
- they are groups of 4-8 people who meet together for study, accountability, and friendship.
- that may be exactly what you need to help you in your walk for Christ.
- there’s all sorts of other things we could mention.....your personal time in the Word.....your personal prayer life.....
- but the bottom line is -- God delights in helping men and women develop a lifestyle of faithfulness......the question is ---- is that really the kind of person that you want to be, and are you taking concrete specific steps to cooperate with the work the Spirit of God wishes to do?
[could develop --- the desire to see young people have this heart’s desire////or thankfulness for the faithful XYZ’ers]

- now you might say, PV, if I let God do this work of grace in me, does that mean the latter years of my life will be trouble free?......would that be the purpose of becoming a faithful follower like Daniel?
- that’s brings us to our second important principle.....


II. Even Long-Term Faithfulness May Result in Great Trial.


- there is a limited sense in which faithfulness to God makes for an easier life because living for sin always has significant consequences.
- but we would be mis-representing the Scripture this morning if we gave the impression that we ought to seek to live a faithful consistent life because then God is obligated to keep our latter years trial-free.

- clearly, that is exactly the opposite of the emphasis of this story.
- even after Daniel faithfully served God.....even after he had developed such fine habits of consistency....even after he had handled significant trials in his younger years.....
- the Lord allows him to face the toughest one when he’s in his 80’s.
- you could make the argument that Daniel rightly handling trial earlier in his life was simply preparing him to handle more significant trial later in his life.

- every one of us needs to get to the place of recognizing that God’s primary purpose for us is not to make our lives trial-free.....His purpose is to conform us to the image of His Son......
- and the sooner we get on board with that plan and program, the better.
- even after all these years of faithfulness, Daniel is plotted against by his enemies, and then wickedly thrown in the den of lions.
- Long-Term Faithfulness May Result in Great Trial

- now you might say --- PV, what kind of trial?
- well, let’s start with the one that’s in the text.....
- what about the issue of death?
- one of our members, Carl Ownby, went in for a routine check and it was discovered that he has advanced cancer.
- because of some other medical problems, there is very little that the doctors can do for him as far as treatment. and they expect the cancer to develop very rapidly.

- Carl and I were talking about that the other day....and it gives each of us an opportunity to face a very hard reality.....you can’t get to heaven in this body.
- now, if Christ returns, we will be caught up in the clouds without having to die....which is one of the reasons believers ought to love his appearing, and joyfully anticipate His appearing.....but I Thes. 4 tells us that even when that happens......those who are alive will be changed.....
- you can’t get to heaven in this body.....
- and what that means, until Christ returns, is that you and I face death.
- and some have confided with me that that is a thought that you really struggle with.

- you know, God wants to help you put that fear to rest.
- and I’m not talking about some stoic approach as if we weren’t even human beings.....
- but God can help you say with the apostle Paul.....For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

- and its true that even after a lifetime of faithfulness, there still may be great trial....
- but its also true that God’s grace can be sufficient to me and his strength can be made perfect in my weakness.

- what other kinds of trial might you face?
- some have been trying to live for God....and your family is coming apart.
- our adversary loves to tear up marriages, and tear up families, and destroy young people....
- and frankly, he’s having more success than I wish he was having.....
- so even though you may have been trying to live faithfully for God, you may be facing a lion’s den of incredible proportions.

- and we could develop this idea all day.....but it is not true that we try to live faithfully for God so that things will go smoothly for us....because that may not be God’s plan.....
- and it was certainly not God’s plan for Daniel.....

- but here’s the third important principle from this text.....


III. God Can Help You Handle These Trials Successfully.


- Friend, I want to ask you to open up your eyes of faith and think about what this scene must have been like.
- Daniel wasn’t in the lions den.....
- those lions were in God’s den!

- and these other satraps and governors thought when they threw Daniel in the pit, that was the end of Daniel.
- and mark it down.....that’s wasn’t going to be the end of Daniel until God said it was the end of Daniel.

- now you might say --- PV, what if the lions had eaten him up...would that have meant that God was powerless in such a situation?
- absolutely not.....the king seemed to be sure that God would protect Daniel in some miraculous way....Daniel made no such claim......
- Daniel’s attitude was undoubtedly like that of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abendego back in chapter 3...when they said to Nebuchanezzar.....
- God can deliver us from the fiery furnace [if He wants to]....but let it be know....even if he doesn’t choose to deliver us in this situation, we’re still not bowing down to your gods.

- Biblical faith is not believing that God will....biblical faith is believing that God can....and then trusting that whatever He decides to do is in your spiritual best interest.

- and you may have been thinking --- If this passage is true --- then what about the believers in Jesus Christ who died in Littleton, CO this week?
- that event has spiritual lessons gushing out all over....
- but let me just remind you that God was not the one making the bombs or pulling the trigger......

- do you really want a God who made human beings like robots where they have no freedom to make choices in any way, shape, or form?
- and if the answer to that question is no.....if human beings are going to be able to make choices about what they are going to do with their minds, and what they are go to do with their bodies, and what they are going to do with their lives.....
- then you better get ready for all sorts of human tragedy.....because the human heart is deceitful and desperately wicked.

- and we ought to be grieved by what happened.....
- we ought to pray for each of the families, and each of the thousands of people that have been touched by this event.....
- we ought to be discussing it....and looking for opportunities to bring biblical truth to the discussion....and for ways to share the gospel with those who are asking very important questions.....

- but fundamentally, for each of the persons who lost their life this week in Littleton, CO or anywhere else in our world WHO WERE BELIEVERS IN JESUS CHRIST, they are in a better place today then they were last Sunday.
- and of course that does not excuse the murder in any sense......but if we only have hope in this life alone, we of all men are most miserable.

- No, faithfulness does not guarantee a trial free life in our latter years, but God can help us handle those trials successfully....whether by life or by death.

- At the beginning of our message, I asked you.....what lions are you facing......
- well, let me ask you to think about them again.....
- line them all up in the den of your mind......
- and then be encouraged by this.....If God be for us, who can be against us?
- nothing can separated us from the love of God which is in Jesus Christ our Lord
- greater is He that is in you than He that is in the world.

- and I would have loved to watch this scene unfold......
- where lion #1 starts to let out this big roar....and all that comes out is a “meow”
- and lion #2 sticks out his sharp claws.....and all he’s got are these big, soft paws, kind of like Winny the Poo.....
- and then another one shows his fangs.....and he’s toothless and powerless.....

- I wonder what Daniel did.......
- I’m sure he had a time of prayer and praise......
- He may have sang some of David’s psalms......


- He’s probably not as ornery as I am.....
- I think after I got doing that, I might have a little fun with those lions since we were going to spending the evening together.....
- maybe tying a few of their tails together.....
- boxing a few of them in the ears.....
- swinging them around by their tails.....

- but I imagine that he simply laid one of them down like a real fuzzy pillow, and went fast to sleep.
- but there’s no mistaking this.....God wanted all of His people....including you and me....to know that that den belonged to God.....and those lions belonged to God.....and wise is the person who knows, and lives faithfully for, that kind of God.

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video