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May 19, 2013

Overcoming the Paralyzing Fear of the Lions Den

Passage: Daniel 6:1-28

Preacher: Eric Stapleton

Series: Daniel: Overcoming Under Siege

Category: Old Testament, Faith, Christian Walk

Keywords: fear, prayer, lions, daniel, prophecy

Summary:

In Daniel 6 we read of Daniel's consistency in obeying God rather than man. How does he do that when facing certain death? How might we be able to emulate Daniel's faith and not lose heart like King Darius?

Detail:

[Trailer two “The Ghost and the Darkness”] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1M38HWM4CTY

That was a trailer to the 1996 movie The Ghost in the Darkness, which is based on the true story of how two man eating lions were responsible for killing over 30 men who were trying to build a railroad in East Africa in 1898. Scary movie, in the end the men prevail over the Lions even the one of them is killed. In the movie, the Lions are not portrayed as typical Lions. These lions specifically are trying to kill men. And there are two of them, two male lions. This is an unusual circumstance because lions are typically not maneaters. They go after elephants, gazelles, zebras and animals like that. And normally it’s the females the do the hunting. So the movie presents an almost supernatural feel about these lions, as if they’re demonic. But there are other circumstances. The construction of the railroad and the destruction of the forest surrounding the railroad dispersed the lion’s normal prey. The movie portrays that may be over 100 people were killed by these lions based on the book that the Hunter, Patterson, wrote. Documentation shows about 28 to 35 though. In any case it was a scary reality. Because the workers in the railroad didn’t know when it was going to happen. When was a lion going to attack them in their tent and drag them away? That is one kind of scary. Another kind of scary is knowing that you are going to have to face the lion without a gun in a closed space. That is fear. Not a particular fear that many of us can relate to. That brings us to our text.

 

Today we’re in Daniel chapter 6. I know, I know, we’re supposed to be in Daniel five, but John and I switched weeks, he is speaking at a baccalaureate at Whitworth.

Daniel 6:1–2 (NASB95)

Daniel Serves Darius

    1   It seemed good to Darius to appoint 120 satraps over the kingdom, that they would be in charge of the whole kingdom,

    2   and over them three commissioners (of whom Daniel was one), that these satraps might be accountable to them, and that the king might not suffer loss.

So, who is Darius? Well, according to Daniel five, Darius, the Mede, is the one who receives the kingdom of Babylon at the age of 62 after Belshazzar is slain. We’ll learn more about that next week. Belshazzar was the son of Nabonidus, one of the Nebuchadnezzar’s that John talked about last week. He was a Chaldean. Darius  isn’t a Chaldean he’s a Mede. He represents the kingdom of the Medes and the Persians of which Cyrus was really the main guy. Secular history doesn’t recognize Darius. That’s okay because I don’t often recognize secular history. Meaning it often takes secular history a while to catch up with the Bible. Case in point Belshazzar. Up to the year 1854 secular historians were at odds with the book of Daniel for various reasons. One of those reasons was that they couldn’t find in secular history that someone named Belshazzar was king of Babylon. Even though Daniel five says that Belshazzar was in charge. Like I said, until 1854. It was at that time that they found the cylinder of Nabonidus. The cylinder of Nabonidus talks about his son Belshazzar and how while Nabonidus was going on a long journey he was leaving Belshazzar in charge of his affairs. There’s been a few things along the way where historians said ha ha there’s a mistake! Like for a long time historians doubted that there were ever a people called the Hittites. Until evidence was found archaeologically speaking. It’s instances like these that produce the analogy of a bunch of secular historians and scientists climbing the wall of knowledge only to find theologians at the top drinking their tea.

There are a few theories regarding the identity of Darius in secular history. What I mean here is, there are theories that theologians have in regard to trying to reconcile secular history and biblical history. They’re interesting, one is that Darius is another name for Cyrus, another is that Darius is one of Cyrus’s generals, another is that it’s Cyrus’s father-in-law who was a Mede because Cyrus married a Mede. I don’t know, as you read the text you see that, this is a man with authority. The end of this chapter could be interpreted that there is a co-regency between Cyrus and Darius, Cyrus the Persian, Darius the Mede. Darius, King Darius, is setting up an administration for a kingdom in transition of leadership. So, as he setting up this kingdom he is looking at all the records seeing who the top administrators are and as is going through this list he’s making appointments and who’s at the top of the list? Who’s the one who’s known for giving the best advice for the kingdom of Babylon? “Picks up the newspaper, the Babylonian Times, “Oh, it says here that Daniel, predicted to Belshazzar that we were  going to come in and take over. Pretty smart guy.”

Daniel 6:3–4 (NASB95)

    3   Then this Daniel began distinguishing himself among the commissioners and satraps because he possessed an extraordinary spirit, and the king planned to appoint him over the entire kingdom.

    4   Then the commissioners and satraps began trying to find a ground of accusation against Daniel in regard to government affairs; but they could find no ground of accusation or evidence of corruption, inasmuch as he was faithful, and no negligence or corruption was to be found in him.

So, let’s assume that this is a kingdom in transition. All these satraps see an opportunity to become influential in the new kingdom, they’re jealous of Daniel, they have an opportunity to leverage their knowledge against a vulnerable ruler.

Another reason I have a tendency to believe that this is in close proximity to when the Medes and the Persians took over Babylon, is that Darius is setting up an administration. Another thing that I think we can get from the text is that these other satraps, are most likely not Medes and Persians. They are most likely Chaldeans who already have knowledge of how the kingdom of Babylon has worked in the past. That is one of the reasons they’re being chosen. More evidence of this is the fact that they already know Daniel and his ways and of his God. This Darius, is in a very vulnerable position.

Daniel 6:5 (NASB95)

    5   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.”

Daniel 6:6–8 (NASB95)

    6   Then these commissioners and satraps came by agreement to the king and spoke to him as follows: “King Darius, live forever!

    7   “All the commissioners of the kingdom, the prefects and the satraps, the high officials and the governors 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, shall be cast into the lions’ den.

    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.”

This is what I mean by vulnerable, they know he’s insecure, so they appealed to his vanity and then they quote his own laws back to him.

Daniel 6:9–15 (NASB95)

    9   Therefore King Darius signed the document, that is, the injunction.

  10   Now when Daniel knew that the document was signed, he entered his house (now in his roof chamber he had windows open toward Jerusalem); and he continued kneeling on his knees three times a day, praying and giving thanks before his God, as he had been doing previously.

  11   Then these men came by agreement and found Daniel making petition and supplication before his God.

  12   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 lions’ den?” The king replied, “The statement is true, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which may not be revoked.”

  13   Then they answered and spoke before the king, “Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, O king, or to the injunction which you signed, but keeps making his petition three times a day.”

  14   Then, as soon as the king heard this statement, he was deeply distressed and set his mind on delivering Daniel; and even until sunset he kept exerting himself to rescue him.

  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.”

I can see why secular history would ignore this guy because he is pretty weak. He is so easily manipulated. First he is manipulated into signing that silly law that played on his vanity, probably when he was drunk. Then he’s letting these guys determine who he’s going to send to the lion’s den.

Daniel 6:16–18 (NASB95)

Daniel in the Lions’ Den

  16   Then the king gave orders, and Daniel was brought in and cast into the lions’ den. The king spoke and said to Daniel, “Your God whom you constantly serve will Himself deliver you.”

  17   A stone was brought and laid over the mouth of the den; and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the signet rings of his nobles, so that nothing would be changed in regard to Daniel.

  18   Then the king went off to his palace and spent the night fasting, and no entertainment was brought before him; and his sleep fled from him.

Interesting to note what Darius says to Daniel, “good luck.” I know the text seems to say that he is saying that God will deliver you but two verses later belies the fact that he didn’t really believe that. So in essence, he was saying “rub your rabbit’s foot because I can’t help you.”

Daniel 6:19–24 (NASB95)

  19   Then the king arose at dawn, at the break of day, and went in haste to the lions’ den.

  20   When he had come near the den to Daniel, he cried out with a troubled voice. The king spoke and said to Daniel, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you constantly serve, been able to deliver you from the lions?”

  21   Then Daniel spoke to the king, “O king, live forever!

  22   “My God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths and they have not harmed me, inasmuch as I was found innocent before Him; and also toward you, O king, I have committed no crime.”

  23   Then the king was very pleased and gave orders for Daniel to be taken up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den and no injury whatever was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.

  24   The king then gave orders, and they brought those men who had maliciously accused Daniel, and they cast them, their children and their wives into the lions’ den; and they had not reached the bottom of the den before the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones.

Hoisted on their own petard. This seems to be a recurring theme, we also see it in the book of Esther when Haman conspires against the Jewish people and the tables turn and he is hanged on the gallows that he constructed for Mordecai. Generally speaking, Kings don’t like being manipulated. Just saying. Interesting note about the lions, they’re not normally maneaters but these ones were obviously trained to be maneaters. And they were probably starved enough so that they would be hungry for Daniel. I’m sure that these satraps made sure of that. So Daniel being in the lions den, and the angel keeping their mouths shut must’ve been very frustrating. I mean, they’re very hungry and their dinner is sitting right there before them and they can’t have it, so by the time the conspirators and their families get thrown in… You get the picture.

Daniel 6:25–28 (NASB95)

  25   Then Darius the king wrote to all the peoples, nations and men of every language who were living in all the land: “May your peace abound!

  26   “I make a decree that in all the dominion of my kingdom men are to fear and tremble before the God of Daniel;

For He is the living God and enduring forever,

And His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed,

And His dominion will be forever.

  27         “He delivers and rescues and performs signs and wonders

In heaven and on earth,

Who has also delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.”

  28   So this Daniel enjoyed success in the reign of Darius and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian.

Background: this is the sixth chapter of Daniel. We know that Daniel was taken from Jerusalem as a teenager along with his friends and they served Babylon, in particular, Nebuchadnezzar as his wisemen, or Magi. Why were they taken to Babylon from Jerusalem? Because Judah was in a 70 year timeout. They were God’s chosen people, but they weren’t living like God’s chosen people and so after hundreds of years of warning them to repent and change their ways, and act like God’s children, he delivered on the punishment that he had been telling them about through his prophets. Sometimes when we read the Old Testament, particularly the prophets we can errantly get the idea that God is a harsh God full of gloom and doom hellfire and brimstone. And that’s not very accurate, because we lose sight of the fact that God often gives his people a long time to repent of their sins. Anyway even this timeout that Judah is in was prophesied to Jeremiah:

Jeremiah 25:8–11 (NASB95)

    8   “Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘Because you have not obeyed My words,

    9   behold, I will send and take all the families of the north,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will send to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, My servant, and will bring them against this land and against its inhabitants and against all these nations round about; and I will utterly destroy them and make them a horror and a hissing, and an everlasting desolation.

  10   ‘Moreover, I will take from them the voice of joy and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the sound of the millstones and the light of the lamp.

  11   ‘This whole land will be a desolation and a horror, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years.

So it’s very likely that Daniel is waiting for Judah to be able to go back to Jerusalem because he believes in the prophecy. He also sees history unfolding according to God’s will. Not only did the prophecy about Jerusalem being transported to Babylon come true but a dream that he interpreted for Nebuchadnezzar is also coming true. He saw the kingdom of Babylon fall to the Medes and Persians. This not only fulfills the dream of Nebuchadnezzar but more specifically a vision that Daniel himself had during the reign of Belshazzar. And that vision is talked about in the next chapter. Daniel gets to see prophecy fulfilled in his lifetime, no wonder he ignores the decree to not pray to God.

We are in this series entitled, “Overcoming under Siege” in the book of Daniel. This theme and book were chosen because the world we live in, particularly in America seems to be moving in a way that is very contrary to the way us believers would like it to be moving. Everything from laws about marriage to protecting the unborn to controlled substances. We see a lot of evidence that this country is spiritually deteriorating and more and more it becomes clear that we are living in a country that is not our own. Much like Daniel was. That is to say we have a heavenly citizenship that seems to be growing more and more in contrast to our earthly citizenship, spiritually speaking. In past messages John has alluded to persecution of martyrs in the past and maybe even that it could and will happen in the future. Indeed the Bible talks about that in the end times. And many of us would like to believe that we will not experience that. I would like to believe that I will never experience that. But I can’t even really imagine it. Not many of us here really know what persecution for faith in Christ really means. Many of us have had our share of arguments about our faith or maybe people treating us like we’re idiots or foolish maybe even discriminating against us, maybe. But we don’t bear the threat of being thrown into a lions den, literally, a lions den. I don’t know about you, but I can’t really relate to that kind of fear. I find it hard to relate to Daniel in this story. I mean, I’d probably still pray, but I for one, would probably shut my curtains, just saying. I’ve even have scripture to back it up, didn’t Jesus say you pray go into a closet and shut the door? But then I have not seen what Daniel has seen. I think that changes you. So, who in this story do we connect with? Maybe you do connect with Daniel because you know that you know that you would stand up under persecution no matter what because like Daniel, you’ve seen visions and seen them fulfilled and you have that confidence. I’d like to think I’m in that crowd but I’ve not been tested so I don’t know for sure. And that’s the only way to know. Really.

Let’s look at some of the other characters in the story. Well, there’s the satraps. They are evil. They don’t know God they are not of God. They want to do harm, and not good. Maybe we don’t connect with them so much we don’t connect with the angel so much either. I’m talking about the angel who shut the lions mouth. But Darius. I wonder if we can connect with him. At the end he seems to make a speech that suggests that he believes in God. For real, this time. Not just for good luck.

I’m choosing Darius. I opened this up with an analogy of lions because lions seem to evoke fear. A fully maned male lion is staring you in the face that would be fearful. Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! Darius wasn’t facing the lions, literally. In contrast, Daniel, who was facing the lions, literally didn’t seem to have the same anxiety that Darius had about the lions. Or, at least it isn’t recorded. Says in the text that Darius fasted and refused entertainment. He didn’t sleep. What was at stake for him? See, these are the type of lions that we face. What are your lions? What I’m driving at here is: I can’t relate to the concept of facing persecution for my faith so easily. That might be in my future. I’ve had brushes with it, in Romania, and Jim Dingfield was there when this happened. The Orthodox priests on an island in Sulina in Romania on the Danube River made a veiled threat that maybe they couldn’t help it if some drunks decided to take all or sound equipment and throw them into the Danube River because they resented our evangelical presence there. What I can relate to our the lions that scare me from being God’s effective tool now. Maybe you can too. Maybe your lions are, not having a job, health, teenagers, difficulty on the job, addiction (fear of not breaking it), shame, finances, marriage problems, bills, or just being extremely overwhelmed.

Lions are mentioned often in Scripture and it’s always something that’s fierce awesome, to be respected. Sometimes in an evil light, enemies are compared to ravenous lions in the Psalms.

In first Peter Satan is compared to a lion:

1 Peter 5:8 (NASB95)

    8   Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

I was watching a documentary about lions. And it was from the standpoint of, “how do you know when a lion is about to charge?” The context is tour guides who take their clients on Safari in Africa and they come upon a great photo opportunity, a lion on an anthill. That’s where the question comes in the play because you can’t really shoot the lion unless he’s a threat and is not considered a threat until he comes within 10 yards of you or something like that. He went o,n this guy in the documentary, to talk about how there are specifics things that a lion will do right before charges like it twitches its tail or something like that and they always do that, and then tongue-in-cheek he says except when they don’t. And he showed a picture of a ferocious lion and he pointed out some subtleties like the paws are turned in and he’s kicking up dirt which means he’s coming to a halt. I don’t know about you, but at 10 yards I’m not really get going to be thinking about studying the subtleties in the body language of a lion. And I think the same holds true with Satan, as a lion. He roars at us with ferocity in the form of lies, intimidation, anything that will make us afraid. In our flesh, we are weak how do we not respond to that. How do we do as Daniel did and continue to be actively immovable?

I was looking at a couple of top 10 lists of what is perceived that people fear the most. And there were the more concrete things like um, spiders, ghosts, clowns, the government. There are other lists that spoke more conceptually like loss of freedom, pain, ridicule, misery, disappointment etc. I think those are closer to the target however ultimately, what we’re all really afraid of is, death. And when I say death I don’t merely mean the termination of breath and a heartbeat. I’m talking about that stuff that goes along with it – pain, suffering, torment – loss, whether it’s of freedom or a relationship, that is all death. That is all what sin brings into this world. We are afraid of death of many things. We’re afraid of the death of our livelihood, a job, a relationship, comfort, and all the pain that goes with that loss.

Hebrews 2:14–15 (NASB95)

  14   Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil,

  15   and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.

 

The type of slavery being discussed here is slavery to sin. It’s interesting, fear of death will put us into bondage but it was sin that brought about death in the first place. It’s a vicious cycle. Before sin that fear didn’t exist, because death didn’t exist. There was nothing to be afraid of, except God and some would argue that because there was no sin there was no need to be afraid of him either. It’s obvious that we all know how to sin as soon as we have the ability to do anything. We don’t have to be taught how to be greedy. We don’t have to be taught how to be selfish. Some might say, well that’s just survival instinct. But I’m telling you without fear of death survival instinct doesn’t need to be there. Without death there is no fear.

God has prepared us for great works, for great things. Says so in the Bible.

Ephesians 2:10 (NASB95)

  10   For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

One of those great things, might be glorifying God while under persecution. But if we can even handle our everyday fears, anxieties that we can overcome, if we can’t do that when we’re not in a state of persecution, how much more will we be able to handle persecution. Sometimes, God doesn’t give us of the next thing, whether that’s a blessing or ministry calling until we’ve adequately dealt with the first set of responsibilities that he’s given us. That might be raising a family or living a prudent lifestyle, being a good steward with the resources you’ve been given etc. There are some things however where you are given a certain set of circumstances in preparation for another stage in your life and that next stage of your life is coming whether or not you prepare really well or not. That’s life in general. You’re going to go to elementary school, junior high school, and high school, in preparation for college and life. College and life are coming anyway. How well you prepare is up to you. Persecution is coming, anyway. How well you prepare for it, is up to you. We look around our world, and we see complacency. We see a culture that lives for immediate gratification. They don’t live for eternal things. Are we much better? In the church?

We know from the Bible, that times of persecution will come. There is a concept taught in the Bible called the rapture. This is an event where Christ calls his church home before the wrath of God is poured out on man because the church is not subject to God’s wrath. However many have taken this concept to make it seem as if the church is never going to experience persecution from the world. See, there’s a difference between God’s wrath on mankind for its sin, and persecution from the world. I’m not doubting that the church gets called home before God pours out his wrath. I just question the timing of it. I’ve seen a pretty diagrams and the interpretations of Daniels sevens. That’s nice. But the first century church, the second century church, and the third century church didn’t get raptured out. They experienced intense persecution. And I’m not trying to scare anybody or preach against the doctrine of a pre-tribulation rapture. I just want to point our hope back to a past event not a future one and a real Savior not a set of circumstances.

The topic is fear.

 Four Impelling Motives

 There are four great impelling motives that move men to action: Fear, Hope, Faith, and Love—these four, but the greatest of these is Fear. Fear is first in order, first in force, first in fruit. Indeed, fear is “the beginning of wisdom.” Scripture summarizes the chief cause of sin and crime: “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

—Prairie Overcomer[1]

Let’s see how the characters in this story dealt with fear. Well the first people we see experiencing fear are the other satraps. These are the other people that are administrators of the kingdom of Babylon under Darius but what do they fear? I would say everything but the thing they ought to fear. Or rather everything but whom they ought to fear.

What specifically were they afraid of? Daniel? They were jealous of him. They wanted to get rid of him. Maybe they were afraid that Daniel would expose them for their corruption. I mean if they were going to be so bold as to try to manipulate the King I’m thinking there were other things in their affairs that were corrupt. Think about it, what’s the first thing they realize? That they can’t get Daniel on corruption. Why would they think of that? Probably, because it’s the first thing Daniel is going to expose about them. Also, revealing that they, probably are unnecessary. But again, it isn’t so much what they are afraid of its what they’re not afraid of. And it’s the same with anybody who is evil. They’re afraid. Evil people are afraid but they are afraid of the wrong things. Yes, they are afraid of death like everybody else but they’re not afraid of God. Don’t be afraid of those who can kill you and take away your life, be afraid of the one who can take your soul and send it to hell. So, they have fear of maybe losing their job, maybe they have fear of not being able to get ahead, maybe they have fear of not being in control. It’s important to be afraid of the right thing, or rather right person. It’s important to fear God.

Daniel, I think, was afraid of God. That is to say, he was a God-fearing man. We see evidence of this earlier in the book. In chapter 1, Daniel and his friends popularly known as Shadrach Meshach and Abednego, refused to eat “unclean” foods. Also, when Shadrach Meshach and Abednego refused to bow down before Nebuchadnezzar’s statue. We get the idea that Daniel is a God-fearing man. How much more so now that he is seen the fulfillment of the vision of the Medes and the Persians taking over Babylon. It’s a no-brainer for him that he is going to keep on praying. I don’t think he’s afraid at all. And that’s why I don’t connect with him very well. It is important to note why he wasn’t afraid. He had reason to take God at his word. He had a lifetime of submitting to and seeing the fruit of obeying God. He was probably in his 80s at this time. He had been abducted or taken to Babylon when he was 16. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of all wisdom.

Darius, on the other hand. He doesn’t have that. He doesn’t have a history with God. He doesn’t have the writings of the law. He doesn’t know Daniel’s God. And it’s ironic because if we take the word of God at face value on who this guy, Darius is he’s the most powerful man in the known world at this time. And he’s afraid, he’s distressed, he’s not eating, taking in entertainment, and losing sleep. The most powerful man in the known world is paralyzed by fear. And what is he afraid of? He’s afraid for Daniel’s life. Why? I don’t know. It’s obvious that he knows he screwed up. He’s going to lose his best advisor, he knows that. But for him, that’s his life, to him equally powerful of fear as if I was on the verge of losing my marriage or about to go bankrupt. Equally paralyzing. We can’t see inside his head, but we can see his actions or inactions. Have you ever been that scared and there wasn’t a lion involved? Now, we know that when he lowered Daniel into the cave and close the stone over him, he uttered words of “encouragement” about Daniel’s God delivering him. But we also know by his actions that he doesn’t really believe those words.

“Your God whom you constantly serve will Himself deliver you.” [2] And then the next morning, we are reminded that he doesn’t really believe that God will deliver Daniel by his question, ““Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you constantly serve, been able to deliver you from the lions?” [3] Again, proof that he doesn’t really believe. He might be superstitious but he doesn’t really know the living God that he’s referring to. Not because he wonders whether or not God did deliver Daniel. I think it’s fair that even us who have belief will wonder if God will do something. But he says was your God able to? Gods always able. That’s never the question. Even with Daniel as well as Shadrach Meshach and Abednego, they don’t doubt that God can but they wonder if God will. Back in Daniel 3,

Daniel 3:17–18 (NASB95)

  17   “If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king.

  18   “But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

But Darius has this going for him, hope. He hopes God was able to deliver Daniel. But in order for his hope to become faith, he needs some event to take place. He needs to see evidence of the living God. He knows about religion. He knows about the gods of the Medes and the Persians. But he needs to see evidence of a real god. What event is that? Salvation. He needs to see evidence of a God who saves. So he knocks rolls away the stone, he yells down to Daniel, and asks for an answer, and he seeks by pulling Daniel out of the pit. Knocks, asks, and he seeks. The stone is rolled away, and answer is given, and he finds Daniel alive. He sees the event that he needed to see to a faith in the living God. When he sees that:

Daniel 6:25–27 (NASB95)

  25   Then Darius the king wrote to all the peoples, nations and men of every language who were living in all the land: “May your peace abound!

  26   “I make a decree that in all the dominion of my kingdom men are to fear and tremble before the God of Daniel;

For He is the living God and enduring forever,

And His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed,

And His dominion will be forever.

  27         “He delivers and rescues and performs signs and wonders

In heaven and on earth,

Who has also delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.”

Darius, saw the salvation of the Lord and he was able to proclaim about it. He was able to execute justice. All of a sudden he had power to execute the charges of his office – being merciful, excising corruption, and giving glory to the living God publicly. In this moment he was a great leader.

So, what event are you waiting for? Are you waiting for salvation? That already happened. The event that we were waiting for as proof that God wants to save us, already happened.

Romans 8:38–39 (NASB95)

  38   For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,

  39   nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

1 Corinthians 15:55–58 (NASB95)

  55   “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”

  56   The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law;

  57   but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

  58   Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.

Notice how it doesn’t say be paralyzed. It says the immovable. It’s different, trust me. It means be like Daniel, be resolute. It doesn’t mean be so scared that you can’t do anything. In fact, it says always abounding in the work of the Lord. And we’re not talking about that in the moment fear, like when you’re being charged by a lion. We’re talking about that distressing fear when you have time to think about something or deal with a circumstance or set of circumstances.

Fear will drive us into the bondage of sin, or at the very least make us ineffectual. If we are bound by fear, we cannot fully live as the craftsmanship of God’s hands.

It all points back to the cross and what Jesus did there. Everything that makes you unworthy, all the sin that you’ve done and all the sin that’s been done to you was dealt with on the cross 2000 years ago when Jesus died on the cross and was raised from the dead on the third day. All the eternal consequences, all the present curses, were also dealt with. Christ died so that you would be free, not just free from the eternal penalty of sin but free to be fully alive without fear.

Yes, it’s true there are going to be limitations, physical, circumstantial, etc. that prevent us from doing everything that’s on our hearts to do. Fear shouldn’t be one of them. Even back in Daniel’s day, it was all pointing to the cross. Don’t you see it? Sealed in a veritable tomb in the evening, the stone rolled in place, and the resurrection comes in the morning. Granted, in Daniel’s situation it wasn’t three days, it was one night but the imagery is clear. Persecuted for righteousness sake, facing certain death, and vindicated.

Daniel had a distinct advantage over Darius in the way of dealing with fear. He had the truth of God’s word on his side, and knowledge of it. Darius didn’t have this. Daniel also had the visions but I would say the Daniel got the visions because he was already submitted and had shown himself as such, to God’s word. I think Daniel did have access to the writings of Moses, perhaps the Psalms of David. Like Nehemiah, who later on has the ear of King Cyrus and access to resources and materials to rebuild Jerusalem. I think Daniel had access to the things of his own country.

That’s how it is for us. The proof is there. We know that Jesus died and rose from the dead. We know from his word that he created us to do good works. How is it that fear stops us then? How do we prevent that from happening? We need to keep God’s word before us. I was reading Genesis 8 and 9 and I noticed that God tells Noah like three times that he’s not going to destroy the earth with the flood ever, ever, ever again. And he makes sure that Noah knows that the promise isn’t just for him, but for his sons and their descendants. But it’s not enough to tell them three times, he puts a rainbow in the sky and reminds them that whenever they see this rainbow they can remember God’s promise. God doesn’t say, “if I told you once, I’ve told you 100 times…” He puts a recurring reminder in the sky every time it rains so we can remember that God’s not going to do what he did in Noah’s day. Why does he do that? Because we are like the grass of the field, here today and gone tomorrow. We have a short attention span especially with the roaring lion in our faces constantly growling at us that God’s promises aren’t true. We need constant reminders that God’s promises are true.

Psalm 1:1–3 (NASB95)

The Righteous and the Wicked Contrasted.

      1       How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,

Nor stand in the path of sinners,

Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!

    2         But his delight is in the law of the Lord,

And in His law he meditates day and night.

    3         He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,

Which yields its fruit in its season

And its leaf does not wither;

And in whatever he does, he prospers.

Proverbs 28:25–26 (NASB95)

  25         An arrogant man stirs up strife,

But he who trusts in the Lord will prosper.

  26         He who trusts in his own heart is a fool,

But he who walks wisely will be delivered.

Fools are talked about quite a bit in the Bible. The fool is always someone who doesn’t have time to consider God’s word, wisdom. He’d rather spout off his own wisdom and be self reliant. So if you’re not making time for God’s word, And if you are not putting God’s promises in front of you every day, you deserve every anxiety you have right now. Hey, I don’t write the mail I just deliver it. If you don’t have time for God’s word in your life you’re a fool.

Application. Pretty obvious. Be in the Word every day. Maybe you want a more specific solution to your particular fear? OK, simple, find out whatever the next step is and take it. Write that letter, apply for that job, open your mouth, break off that relationship, etc. Take that step. Not the answer, you were looking for? Why not? Because you are paralyzed with fear. To get it unparalyzed by fear, you need to believe God’s truth. To believe God’s truth, you need to know it and meditate on it, constantly, consistently. It doesn’t have to be reading the King James version of the Bible for an hour. In this might sound controversial but may be, for starters, it isn’t actually even reading the actual Bible every day. Maybe you get to hear God’s word through listening to praise music, maybe you listen to a Christian podcast or sermon on the radio. Maybe you listen to the Bible on audio. Me I don’t like a lot of Christian music that’s out there but I do like listening to sermon podcasts throughout the week. And I say that is starters if you’re not already doing it. I think you should be actually reading the text of Scripture every day. Billy Graham had a tradition of 3/15. 15 minutes of reading the word 15 minutes of prayer and 15 minutes of talking about God to people. That was his daily goal. If we could just get the first two were doing better than a for not doing anything. And the more you put into it the more you have access to God’s promises. And this is how this works. Sometimes you read the word on a particular day or listen to it in a particular sermon or song or whatever. And in that moment you don’t get anything out of it. But then later on when a circumstance comes up you immediately recall that word or truth or promise. Example a number of years ago I was actually in Japan we were living there. And at that time I was probably wondering, “what am I doing here?” And around that time, one afternoon I saw butterfly flying in the air high up in the air. And a bird was trying to catch the butterfly. The bird couldn’t catch the butterfly the butterflies flight pattern was so erratic that the bird couldn’t predict where it was going to be so couldn’t catch it in its beak. I don’t know if the butterfly had that skill or that’s just the way it was designed the way its wings were. It was effective. It occurred to me at that time that the path God has me on is often confusing to me I don’t understand the way I go but maybe my way is purposely erratic because it prevents me from being a target of the enemy, spiritually speaking. There is a Scripture for that not so much about the persecution part but about the not understanding my own path part. There’s one in Proverbs and there’s one about those who are moved by the Spirit where just as you don’t know from which way the wind comes and which way the wind goes so you don’t understand the ways of those who are moved by the Spirit. So now, sometimes when I go out and running, very often and maybe it’s because of body heat or the moisture in my breath, a butterfly will fly alongside me and it reminds me that God has me on a path that doesn’t make sense to me but I can trust. In order to equate that butterfly with God’s word is it butterflies that I need to study and their flying patterns? No, I need to be in God’s word on a regular basis, so that it’s familiar to me that when the time comes when I do not have access to the word of God I still have access to the word of God because it’s in my mind. That doesn’t happen without consistent time in the word.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



[1] Paul Lee Tan, Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times (Garland, TX: Bible Communications, Inc., 1996).

[2] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995). Da 6:16.

[3] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995). Da 6:20.