Follow God’s Will Even When Facing a Den of Lions

Daniel 6:16-18

16 So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions’ den. The king said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!” 17 A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the rings of his nobles, so that Daniel’s situation might not be changed. 18 Then the king returned to his palace and spent the night without eating and without any entertainment being brought to him. And he could not sleep.

All of the leaders of the region came together to develop a decree that if anyone asked anything of Yahweh or any other god for the next thirty days they would be thrown into the lion’s den. They convinced King Darius that this was necessary and so he signed it. It was now illegal to even pray to God.

Daniel knew that this was not the will of God. We can learn many lessons from Daniel on how to respond when the world tells us to turn from God. We have so many worldly influences trying to turn us away from God. Prayer in schools in no longer allowed. Prayer before government meetings is even frowned upon in some areas. The world has taken what God has called sin and said it is ok. We have to be strong because sometimes it is hard to be open about your faith in a world that frowns upon Christianity.

Daniel was steadfast in his faith. We see that Daniel, knowing the decree, did not waver from his time of prayer. Daniel would face Jerusalem and pray giving thanks to Yahweh three times a day. Daniel refused to let the world dictate who he worshipped, even though it would certainly mean a violent death.

We also see that when you are doing the will of God you will be at peace with your decision. Daniel continued to pray and worship God. Daniel did not try to hide his faith. He prayed in front of an open window. We have no indication that Daniel was concerned about what was going to happen. When Daniel was brought to the king, he did not argue with the king. He did not plead with the king or waiver in his faith.

When God is telling you to do something you need to listen to what He is telling you to do. You need to pay attention to God’s will for your life. When you do what God is telling you, you will have an inner peace. You will be at peace when you are doing God’s will; however, this does not mean you will not experience hard times.

Daniel was not willing to compromise on his faith and was thrown into the lion’s den even though he was doing God’s will. When he was thrown in the den we see that God protected him. We do not have to fight our battles, God is there for us. God sent an angel into the den and shut the mouths of the lions so Daniel would not be harmed. Daniel was in the will of God and therefore God protected him by fighting his battles.

Looking at king Darius we can also learn what happens when we get out of the will of God. The first thing we see is that you will be stressed. We see that the king went back to his palace that night and was deeply troubled. He could not sleep. He did not eat. God was impressing upon him that he had done something wrong.

When we turn our backs on God we will have an emptiness that can only be filled through God. We are going to hunger for something and that something is the bread of life. We are going to have that hunger until we turn back to God and get in His will. The king was troubled until he got back to the den this next morning. He found that Daniel was still alive and he had his men get Daniel out of the den. He was exceedingly glad at this point. He was glad because he was getting back into God’s will.

We also see that when you are not in God’s will, He will reveal Himself in ways that are unimaginable. God revealed Himself through that shut mouth of a lion that was meant to kill and devour. These lions were meant to devour Daniel however an angel shut their mouths until the right time came along. That right time was when Daniel’s accusers were thrown into the den.

Take away:

  1. Be steadfast in your faith even in the face of persecution.
  2. When you are in the will of God, you will have peace.
  3. When you are out God’s will, God will make it abundantly clear.

Be Prepared for God’s Answer

 

18 “This is the dream that I, King Nebuchadnezzar, had. Now, Belteshazzar, tell me what it means, for none of the wise men in my kingdom can interpret it for me. But you can, because the spirit of the holy gods is in you.” 19 Then Daniel (also called Belteshazzar) was greatly perplexed for a time, and his thoughts terrified him. So the king said, “Belteshazzar, do not let the dream or its meaning alarm you.”

Daniel 4:18-19

Have you ever been at a point in your life where you are contempt and then all of a sudden you have a situation happen that is devastating? When something bad happens most people start questioning what has happened. They want to know why this is happening. Sometimes whatever has happened does not seem logical so you want to know. If you cannot explain it then you might go to friends seeking advice. When they cannot explain it you might turn to God, but in reality this needs to be the first place you go when seeking answers. When you ask God, why, you need to be prepared for the answer.

Nebuchadnezzar was in a position of power and was enjoying prosperity. The king was praising God. He was glad to tell about the miraculous signs and wonders that had been performed in his presence. He was saying that God’s kingdom was an eternal kingdom. Nebuchadnezzar believed in God and had faith because of what he had witnessed. The king was living a prosperous life and it did not appear anything would go wrong.

The king then has a dream. This dream disturbed him greatly. The king again turns to the magicians to interpret this dream. He was seeking spiritual answers from a worldly point of view. This was his first mistake. When we are troubled we must turn to God when seeking answers. We do this by looking at God’s word. We also do this by seeking advice from godly people.

Nebuchadnezzar and Daniel finally come together for a discussion of this dream. He tells Daniel that there was a large tree that had grown tall enough to reach the heavens and it was visible to the ends of the earth. The tree was able to provide fruit for all. All the animals were able to find shelter and food from the tree. Then a messenger came from heaven and said cut down the tree. He also said to bound the roots and stump with iron and leave it in the ground. The king said that the dream involved his mind being changed from that of a human to an animal.

He wanted Daniel to explain the dream but he was not ready to hear the true meaning. We get in to situations and we want to know why, but when we ask why, we have to be ready for the answer. When we get that answer it might mean that we have to change our ways. We might be doing something wrong and God is trying to say stop doing this.

Daniel tells the king the tree that had grown so tall was him. Daniel tells him that his dominion had reached to the ends of the earth. The king had become very powerful. Daniel goes onto explain that the king would be living with wild animals before he would acknowledge that Yahweh is the most high God. He tells the king even though the tree was cut down the stump would remain meaning that his kingdom would be restored. He then tells the king to repent of his sins, do what is right, and be kind to the oppressed.

Daniel tells the king do these three things and your prosperity will continue. We see though that the king was not ready to hear what God was telling him. We know this because the king did not change his ways and the dream came to pass. Everything that Daniel told the king when interpreting the dream came true. Eventually Nebuchadnezzar turned his eyes to heaven and his kingdom was restored just as Daniel told him it would be.

Could this have been handled differently by the king? What would have happened if the king had repented when Daniel told him to? God told the king that something was going to happen. The king sought godly advice. The king was not ready to hear it though. If the king had listened to what had been told and repented he might have saved him some trouble.

Take away:

  1. Always seek godly advice first.
  2. Have an open mind and heart for what God is telling you.
  3. Be prepared to do as God says.

What Idols do You Have?

15 Now if you are ready, at the moment you hear the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery and bagpipe and all kinds of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, very well. But if you do not worship, you will immediately be cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire; and what god is there who can deliver you out of my hands?” 16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego replied to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter. 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.”

Nebuchadnezzar had become so bold that he had now built a very tall golden image that was to be worshiped. Nebuchadnezzar had set up an idol that was to be worshiped. Perhaps he set this statue up so he could be worshiped through it.  He was now making himself into a god. The worst part is that he was making others worship a false idol as well. Many of the officials in the region were required to attend this dedication. They made a foolish journey to come worship a false idol, but putting it into perspective worshiping a false idol is foolish.

We do not have kings building false idols and requiring us to worship the statue, but we do have idols that we see every day. We have less subtle idols in our lives. We have some that are obvious such as celebrities. You might be saying I do not worship celebrities. Think about this, do you know more about pop culture then you do the bible? What about money? When you are more concerned with making money then you open your heart up to many more sins such as greed or pride. Your job might even be an idol. If your job keeps you from doing what God has called you to do, it might be an idol that you are refusing to give up.

When everyone arrived they were given the command to bow down and worship the statue when the signal was given. Nebuchadnezzar declared that anyone that did not bow down and worship would be thrown into a fiery furnace that was already prepared. Many people probably bowed down in fear that they would be thrown into the furnace. They did not want to die so they chose to follow the ways of the world. The problem is they were choosing an eternal death to keep from dying at that moment. Others probably bowed down to the king’s statue out of their love for a false god.

There were three young men that made their mind up that they would not worship a false god. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego refused to bow down. This enraged the king. He confronted the three men and wanted to know why they were not following his command. These men had made up their mind that they would not serve any other gods except Yahweh. They had made up their mind before they were put into this situation. They were so devoted to Yahweh that they were going to follow His commands and only worship Him.

As followers of Christ we have to be committed to putting God first in our lives. We are bombarded with things every day that could easily take the place of God if we allow them. Our relationship with Yahweh must take priority. When this happens we grow deeper in our faith and we do not compromise our walk.

These three men knew that not following the commands of the king would mean that they would be sentenced to death; however, their love for God helped them make the decision to not follow the king. Before we are put into a situation where we have to choose things of this world over God we have to resolve to live for God. It might not be an easy decision, but following God is always the right decision.

Take away:

  1. We must examine our hearts and make sure that we have no idols in our lives.
  2. We cannot let the world dictate how we live and what or who we worship.
  3. Have the courage to live for God even in a world that worships false gods.

Discretion and Discernment

Then Daniel replied with discretion and discernment to Arioch, the captain of the king’s bodyguard, who had gone forth to slay the wise men of Babylon; Daniel 2:14

In the first chapter of Daniel we saw that Jerusalem had been taken into captivity by Nebuchadnezzar. Things were really bad for God’s people. The king had taken in some of the brightest young men to train for his personal service. Daniel and three of his friends were chosen. They made the decision that they would live for God. They made the best of this situation with the king while not compromising their belief in Yahweh.

God protected them and guided their footsteps. We even see that God blessed them with wisdom and knowledge. God had a plan and He was preparing them for what was to come. We are told this because the writer makes it clear that Daniel could understand visions and dreams.

As we move into chapter two we see that Nebuchadnezzar was troubled and was even losing sleep. This was due to dreams that he was having. The king calls in all of the magicians, conjurers, and sorcerers to interpret this dream. The king thinks that these people are going to be able to interpret a dream that was from God. As it turns out they were not able to do this. When looking for godly answers we cannot look to someone that does not believe in Yahweh.

The king becomes upset and tells them what will happen if they do or do not interpret this dream. He tells them that they will receive gifts if the dream is interpreted. He also made it clear that they would be torn from limb to limb if they did not interpret the dream properly. After some time went by they told the king that there was no man on earth that could interpret this dream properly. They were looking at a problem of God in a worldly perspective. So the king put out a decree to kill all of the wise men, including Daniel and his friends.

Things looked extremely bad for Daniel. When the king’s men found Daniel he was going to be killed. It was just a matter of time before Daniel was found since he was part of the king’s service. Since Daniel was wise he used discretion and discernment when Arioch found him. This likely saved his life. Odds are we are not going to face a situation like this; However, we are going to face times were we have to use discretion and discernment.

Discretion is behaving in a way that avoids causing conflict. Daniel knew what to say when he was approached by Arioch. He did not become belligerent with Arioch. He cordially requested time with the king. He knew that God had given him the ability to interpret dreams. He knew that God had prepared him for this moment.

When we are put in situations in life that seems tricky we have to use discretion. We have to know what to say without causing offense. We have to know how to act and react. Your actions and thoughts when you react can make the difference in how a situation is handled. If you act in an offensive way the situation is going to have a different outcome then if you handle it with discretion.

We also see that David used discernment. Discernment is the ability to judge when and how to respond. It is not enough to know what to say or how to respond, you also have to know when the time is right. When handling situations timing is crucial. Discernment also involves knowing if you should respond in a situation. There are plenty of times where we have got involved in situations that we should not have because it did not involve us.

Discretion and discernment comes over time. It is not something that we are born with. As time went on God gave Daniel and his comrades the knowledge they needed. This knowledge led to Daniel being able to respond in an appropriate way and with sound judgment.

Take away:

  1. When facing situations make sure you use discretion and respond in a way that does not cause offense, rather respond in a way that honors God.
  2. Discernment will allow us to judge others and situations well.
  3. Discretion and discernment come from knowledge that is given by God.