After the assassination of Belshazzar, the Medes took over the great city of Babylon with the sixty-two year old Darius at the helm. He appointed hundred and twenty satraps to rule over the kingdom with three administrators over them.
The satraps were given jurisdiction to minimise the losses of the king. They were responsible for solving regional disputes to avoid political tensions and keep the king’s name away from controversial decisions. But the king was so impressed with Daniel that he was set above all these officials.
For he is the living GodDaniel 6:26
and he endures forever;
his kingdom will not be destroyed,
his dominion will never end.
The kings words describing Yahweh are very similar to Daniel’s dream in Chapter 7 and Gabriel’s account in Chapter 9. He calls Yahweh the living God whose kingdom will last forever. This might be because Daniel had interactions with the king about Elohim but the king’s faith was not completely rooted in God. When he saw how Daniel miraculously came out unscathed from the lions’ den, he could understand these words that Daniel used to describe God very easily.
Word Over Works
Often times we call our friends to witness miracles without giving them the word and after they witness God’s power, they are left confused as to what just happened. We should not call people randomly to increase numbers for our meetings but consult with the Spirit before inviting anyone. We might want to invite someone we love and of similar mindset but God might have someone completely opposite in mind.
However, Daniel’s rise in ranks did not sit well with the administrators and satraps below him who were most probably Medes by descent. They went to the king and coaxed him with the idea of having his subjects literally worship him, knowing very well about Daniel’s loyalty to his God. Darius liked the idea and issued a decree in writing that could not be altered by anyone with the defaulters to be thrown into the den of lions.
Self-adulation is a trait that most people posses. Kings definitely had big egos and needed their subjects to praise them to boost their egos and can be the reason for Darius’s impromptu decree. But Daniel did not change his routine fearing the decree and continued to pray facing his beloved city of Jerusalem.
Our God is not only omnipresent but also ever present. There is no need for us to be facing a particular way or praying during certain times a day. We have the habit of restricting God to a particular place. Some people dedicate a room in their house to God while some believe God lives at the altar of their church. We must realise that God resides in or hearts and not in any man-made city, church or altar.
This is something that Daniel had been doing all his life. This is what worked for him as it helped him connect with God. We need to find what works for us and not emulate others. If I prefer to connect with God at nights, that is my preference and that should not be proclaimed as a rule. Our relationship with God should not be guided by a handbook that is written using someone else’s experience.
Standing Outside Looking In
Then these men went as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help. So they went to the king and spoke to him about his royal decree:Daniel 6:11-12
They kept on moving in groups, when they went to the king to issue the decree or when they went to spy on Daniel or even when they went to complain about him to the king. Whenever we do something evil, we need people in the same boat with us. Students who plan mass bunks, want their entire class to participate as the punishment cannot be severe if everyone is involved.
Sadly, that is our strategy for life also and we don’t want to stand alone for God and want to mix with the evil among us thinking God can’t punish all of us. The pharisees, even the ones who believed in Jesus, did not want to stand alone and moved in groups criticising and plotting against Him.
When the king heard this, he was greatly distressed; he was determined to rescue Daniel and made every effort until sundown to save him.Daniel 6:14
But according to the law of the Medes and Persians, no decree that the king had issued could be changed by anyone. So reluctantly the king gave the orders for Daniel to be thrown in the lions’ den. He is even praying to Daniel’s God to save him and spent the entire night worried and restless.
Clearly there is something more to the friendship between the king and Daniel that we are not aware of. Daniel spent lot of time with the king as he was second in command and perhaps the king was pleased with Daniel’s character as he was trustworthy and highly competent.
At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den. When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?”Daniel 6:19-20
When the king heard Daniel’s voice he was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. The decree that the king could not take back, God was able to reverse and the governors and satraps who plotted against Daniel were killed instead, along with their wives and children.
The killing of the family members of the satraps who plotted to kill Daniel might seem cruel. What was there crime?
This was a common practice in those days as the wives and kids were considered as property that belonged to the man and after his death there would be no one to claim them. Family execution was also to ensure that no relative of the executed would survive and later seek revenge against the king. A practice still followed today by many authoritarians and even democratic governments.
So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.Daniel 6:28
Putting our trust on God gives us the peace that even the wealthiest among us cannot buy. The guy who was the ruler of the most powerful kingdom in the world was having insomnia, while the ninety year old man, who had been thrown into the den of the beasts, rested comfortably. Darius did not understand what God has to offer and equated Him to the other myths that he had heard in his lifetime.
On the other hand, Daniel was assured of God’s protection over him, not for his mortal body but for his soul. He had seen more terrifying creatures than these lions in the revelations given to him by God. Even with his advanced age and a recent setback in his personal life (misunderstood the prophecy about the exile period), he still had faith on his Creator and knew that he will be saved, even if not in his mortal form but definitely in his spirit.
We all can see our state of mind during the trials in our lives and can evaluate how actually close we are to God. Are we like Darius? Sleepless, panicking and not sure what will happen next or are we like Daniel? Who in spite of not knowing the result of standing alone, left the worrying to God and slept peacefully that night.