Sapphire Sky

October 28, 2016

Politics and Bad Coworkers

Filed under: encouragement, theology — Tags: , — Steve Knaus @ 10:05 pm

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Daniel chapter 6 closes the narrative of one of the most distinguished men in Old Testament scriptures. Daniel had the courage as a teen to stand up for God’s law, even when it could cost him his life (see here). Daniel had the wisdom as a young man to approach a furious king and interpret his dream, thereby saving his own life and the lives of the king’s wise men (see here). Daniel had the leadership as a middle-aged man to encourage his friends to bow only to God, regardless of the consequences (see here). Daniel had the kindness as an older man to counsel the king to turn from his pride (see here). Daniel had the boldness as an old man to rebuke a wicked king, telling him that his destruction was coming (see here).

Now, in the last chapter of his life, Daniel was once again pressed into service for the king. The new king, Darius, set up new leaders over the country with Daniel in charge. Instead of finishing his days in peace, Daniel faced the resentment and jealousy of colleagues who are angry that an outsider was promoted above them.

Don’t miss an important point in this chapter – very little of the action was by Daniel. There was no dramatic show of wisdom nor dream interpretation in Daniel 6. Daniel simply remained faithful to God through the chaos of his world.

This aspect about Daniel is what makes this passage especially encouraging. Daniel faced intrigue, politics, lies, and laws that challenged his fundamental beliefs. Yet through it all, he simply followed God. Constantly. Faithfully.

Daniel’s rivals scoured through his long history to find any “dirt” on him, yet his record was clean. They ended up resorting to a religious law which required everyone to pray only to the king for 30 days. The flattered king signed it into law, with no idea that he had just set the trap for Daniel.

Daniel responded to the anti-prayer law by going to prayer. Daniel would not allow his relationship with God to be blocked by the laws of men. This relationship was the basis for Daniel’s entire life.

Daniel’s prayer served as sufficient ammunition for his enemies, who had Daniel arrested at once. The penalty was to be eaten by hungry lions. The king himself tried to save Daniel, but the law was clear.

Note that Daniel did not speak in his own defense. He was ready to die.

The execution was carried out. Daniel was taken at sunset and put into the cave of hungry lions. The door was closed and sealed, and everyone went off to bed.

The king could not sleep that night and hurried to the cave in the morning. Daniel claimed to serve a very powerful God, but could this God save Daniel? The king was anxious to know if it was possible!

Somewhere, from inside the cave came the voice of an old man. God had sent an angel to stop the lions because Daniel was blameless. The king joyfully brought out Daniel and ordered his accusers to be executed in his place.

The passage concludes with an edict from the king. All people everywhere are to tremble in fear before the God of Daniel. He is the living God! His kingdom endures forever and he acts to save those who truly worship Him!

 

Remember!

God will save all who trust Him, although the rescue may not be as dramatic as Daniel.

God can send an angel to save us like he did for Daniel, or like he did for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (see here).

God may also save us through His providence, where He causes circumstances to come together for our rescue. This was the case of Joseph and his brothers, when God put Joseph in in Egypt during the famine (see Genesis 45:5-8). This was also Ezra’s belief when he refused the king’s protection for the return back to Jerusalem (see Ezra 8:21-23).

God may also save us through death. God’s plan is not always to rescue everyone at once; some will only be rescued when they see God face to face. This was the thought of the writer of Hebrews when he spoke of the martyrs for the faith in Hebrews 11:35-38. They are described as, “of whom the world was not worthy”.

 

Lessons from Daniel’s Example

  • Don’t compromise when it is under your control. (Daniel 1)
  • Be gracious to those over you, even in the face of hostility. (Daniel 1 and Daniel 2).
  • Take opportunities to use your gifts from God. (Daniel 2)
  • Don’t break God’s law – even when the consequences are terrible. (Daniel 3)
  • Answer with care and sensitivity. (Daniel 4)
  • Answer directly and truthfully. (Daniel 5)
  • Don’t compromise your walk with God, even under intense pressure. (Daniel 6)
  • You cannot control the attitudes are the actions of others, but you can remain faithful to the Most High God. (Daniel 1–6)
  • God is totally capable of defending himself. You don’t have to fight His battles!
  • Keep an attitude of thankfulness and prayer, regardless of the circumstances. (Daniel 6)
  • God can use you in all stages of your life. He used Daniel as a teen, a young man, in his middle age, and as an old man.
  • The Most High God transcends kings and kingdoms. He kept Daniel through all of the Babylonian kings and into the Persian empire.
  • Never lose focus on what is most important! (Daniel 1)
  • God’s law is more important than the laws of men. (Daniel 6)
  • True faith is when you commit to obeying God – even if he does not save you! (Daniel 3)

 

What Daniel teaches us about God

  • He honors those who are faithful to Him (Daniel 1)
  • He is greater than any kingdoms or empires of mankind. (Daniel 2)
  • His kingdom endures forever! (Daniel 2 and 6)
  • National disasters do not take God by surprise. (Daniel 2)
  • He sets up and takes down rulers of men. (Daniel 4 and Daniel 5)
  • All power of mankind, even the greatest of kings, is on loan from God. (Daniel 4 and Daniel 5)
  • Personal pride is abhorrent to the Most High God. (Daniel 4)
  • The Most High God holds our very breath in his hands! (Daniel 5)
  • He is to be respected and feared! (Daniel 6)
  • Nothing is impossible with God!

 

Previous post: The Final Party


Daniel 6

 It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom 120 satraps, to be throughout the whole kingdom; and over them three high officials, of whom Daniel was one, to whom these satraps should give account, so that the king might suffer no loss. Then this Daniel became distinguished above all the other high officials and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him. And the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. Then the high officials and the satraps sought to find a ground for complaint against Daniel with regard to the kingdom, but they could find no ground for complaint or any fault, because he was faithful, and no error or fault was found in him. Then these men said, “We shall not find any ground for complaint against this Daniel unless we find it in connection with the law of his God.”

Then these high officials and satraps came by agreement to the king and said to him, “O King Darius, live forever! All the high officials of the kingdom, the prefects and the satraps, the counselors and the governors are agreed that the king should establish an ordinance and enforce an injunction, that whoever makes petition to any god or man for thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions. Now, O king, establish the injunction and sign the document, so that it cannot be changed, according to the law of the Medes and the Persians, which cannot be revoked.” Therefore King Darius signed the document and injunction.

When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously. Then these men came by agreement and found Daniel making petition and plea before his God. Then they came near and said before the king, concerning the injunction, “O king! Did you not sign an injunction, that anyone who makes petition to any god or man within thirty days except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions?” The king answered and said, “The thing stands fast, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be revoked.” Then they answered and said before the king, “Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, O king, or the injunction you have signed, but makes his petition three times a day.”

Then the king, when he heard these words, was much distressed and set his mind to deliver Daniel. And he labored till the sun went down to rescue him. Then these men came by agreement to the king and said to the king, “Know, O king, that it is a law of the Medes and Persians that no injunction or ordinance that the king establishes can be changed.”

Then the king commanded, and Daniel was brought and cast into the den of lions. The king declared to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, deliver you!” And a stone was brought and laid on the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet and with the signet of his lords, that nothing might be changed concerning Daniel. Then the king went to his palace and spent the night fasting; no diversions were brought to him, and sleep fled from him.

Then, at break of day, the king arose and went in haste to the den of lions. As he came near to the den where Daniel was, he cried out in a tone of anguish. The king declared to Daniel, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?” Then Daniel said to the king, “O king, live forever! My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths, and they have not harmed me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no harm.” Then the king was exceedingly glad, and commanded that Daniel be taken up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no kind of harm was found on him, because he had trusted in his God. And the king commanded, and those men who had maliciously accused Daniel were brought and cast into the den of lions—they, their children, and their wives. And before they reached the bottom of the den, the lions overpowered them and broke all their bones in pieces. 

Then King Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth: “Peace be multiplied to you. I make a decree, that in all my royal dominion people are to tremble and fear before the God of Daniel,
for he is the living God,
enduring forever;
his kingdom shall never be destroyed,
and his dominion shall be to the end.
He delivers and rescues;
he works signs and wonders
in heaven and on earth,
he who has saved Daniel
from the power of the lions.” 

So this Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.


 

Daniel 6:1-3
It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom 120 satraps, to be throughout the whole kingdom; and over them three high officials, of whom Daniel was one, to whom these satraps should give account, so that the king might suffer no loss. Then this Daniel became distinguished above all the other high officials and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him. And the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom.

The events in this chapter appear to have happened very early in the reign of Darius. Darius received the kingdom of Babylon when it was conquered by the Persians (Daniel 5:30), and one of his first tasks is to organize the government. Darius was most likely appointed by the Persian emperor, Cyrus, to handle the province of Babylon (see here for more details).

The king appointed 120 satraps, or regional leaders, over the people of Babylon. These 120 satraps would report to three high officials, who would report to the king. The text says that the king made these appointments so that he would “suffer no loss”. His main motivation was financial. This would allow him to effectively manage the country, making sure that the taxes and revenue continued without interruption. It would also provide accountability among the government officials, thereby reducing the risk of corruption or bribery among the nobles.

Darius chose Daniel as one of the three high officials. He may have learned of Daniel’s distinguished record for the kingdom of Babylon or Daniel’s recent promotion to third in the kingdom (see Daniel 5:29) may have influenced the king’s decision. For whatever reasons that he initially chose Daniel, Daniel quickly distinguished himself above all of the others. Daniel had an “excellent spirit”. Daniel was efficient, wise, and he had a great attitude1.

Daniel would have been in his mid 80’s by this time.

“Jewish tradition and the early church believed Daniel had been subjected to castration as a young teenager – chapter 1 implies as much – we do know he remained unmarried his entire life. 

He has been forced to endure blasphemy upon blasphemy by the kings he served. His political colleagues were idolatrous, conniving, pagan men. He’d watched as empires grew and then collapsed.

And now, after years of faithful service, he is set aside and forgotten; only to be called out of retirement to decipher the handwriting on the wall – a message from God that the Babylonian kingdom will be overthrown by the Medes and Persians.

Before he can make an exit, he’s effectively promoted to Prime Minister. And the conquering empire immediately drafts him as one of three leaders, overseeing a collection of political leaders who will soon have him thrown to the lions so they can get on with padding their pockets.

If there’s anybody in the kingdom with the right to be a bitter old man, it’s Daniel.

If there’s anybody in the kingdom you’d never want to be around, it would be this 85 year old bachelor who had lived nearly his entire life in a foreign country that ignored his God and used his people.”
– Stephen Davey1

Daniel had every right to be bitter yet it says that Daniel had a great attitude. Literally, he had an “excellent spirit”!

“Character is what a man is like in the dark” – D.L. Moody

 

Daniel 6:4-5
Then the high officials and the satraps sought to find a ground for complaint against Daniel with regard to the kingdom, but they could find no ground for complaint or any fault, because he was faithful, and no error or fault was found in him. Then these men said, “We shall not find any ground for complaint against this Daniel unless we find it in connection with the law of his God.”

The high officials and the satraps became jealous of Daniel and searched for a way to destroy him. Their jealousy also appears to be racially motivated. How dare this Jewish exile be promoted above them (see Daniel 6:13)!

Most of Daniel’s enemies were race-conscious Medes or Persians, and they did not take kindly to the elevation of one of the Jewish captives.3

They searched through all of Daniel’s extensive career (almost 70 years) in order to find any damaging evidence but found nothing2. Daniel’s record was clean.

Since they could find no legal nor political evidence against Daniel, they realized that the only way they could trap him was through his God. Even Daniel’s enemies knew that he served The Lord with utmost devotion!

The only way that they could get Daniel was to put him in a position where he had to chose between the government and obedience to his God.

“If we put the Lord first, He’ll care for us, even if we don’t get the promotion (Matt. 6:33).” – Warren Wiersbe4

 

Daniel 6:6-9
Then these high officials and satraps came by agreement to the king and said to him, “O King Darius, live forever! All the high officials of the kingdom, the prefects and the satraps, the counselors and the governors are agreed that the king should establish an ordinance and enforce an injunction, that whoever makes petition to any god or man for thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions. Now, O king, establish the injunction and sign the document, so that it cannot be changed, according to the law of the Medes and the Persians, which cannot be revoked.” Therefore King Darius signed the document and injunction.

Therefore, the high officials and the satraps devised a clever plan. They came to King Darius and convinced him to sign a law: for 30 days, no one could pray to any deity except to the king. The penalty for disobedience was execution by lions.

Why would the king agree to such a horrific law? It was common for pagan kings to believe that they were deities. They expected to be worshipped as a god and Darius would be no exception. This law appealed to his vanity, ensuring that he was the center of his subjects’ worship. This law was also politically sensible. This was the perfect opportunity for the king to ensure the loyalty of his new kingdom. This was similar to Nebuchadnezzar’s earlier attempt to unite his kingdom around a common religion (see here).

Note that the law did not require the subjects to abandon their many gods. They only needed to put their other gods on hold for 30 days.

The text says that the men “came by agreement”. They all came in as a pack or a throng. The high officials and the satraps lied to the king, saying that they all agreed to this law.  We know of at least one of the high officials who did not agree to this law (Daniel).

They also announced that they had agreement from all of the other officers in the empire, the “prefects and the satraps, the counselors and the governors”.

One important difference between the Babylonian king and the Persian kings was the rule of law. Nebuchadnezzar could uphold or put down laws as he wished (see Daniel 5:18-19), but the Persian kings were not allowed to break the law. Once a decree had been signed into law, it could not be broken – even by the king!

“They knew that Darius wanted to unify the kingdom and as quickly as possible transform the defeated Babylonians into loyal Persians. What better way than to focus on the great king himself and make him not just the supreme leader but the only god for an entire month!” – Wiersbe4

 

Daniel 6:10
When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously.

Daniel did not alter his prayer life one bit after he learned about the law. His connection to his God was more important than the king’s laws, and more important than his own life!

Daniel prayed three times a day toward Jerusalem. He appears to be following the pattern given by King Solomon, that God would hear the plea of the foreign captive if they turn toward the temple (1 Kings 8:44-53).

Daniel’s prayer was also undoubtedly regarding the Jewish captivity. Daniel had learned in the first year of Darius that the 70 years of Jewish captivity were almost completed (Daniel 9:1-3).

Note also that Daniel’s prayers are of thanks to God. Through all of the trouble and worries that Daniel had been through, his prayers are still from a thankful heart.

“The most important part of a believer’s life is the part that only God sees, our daily private time of meditation and prayer.” – Wiersbe4

 

Daniel 6:11-13
Then these men came by agreement and found Daniel making petition and plea before his God. Then they came near and said before the king, concerning the injunction, “O king! Did you not sign an injunction, that anyone who makes petition to any god or man within thirty days except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions?” The king answered and said, “The thing stands fast, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be revoked.” Then they answered and said before the king, “Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, O king, or the injunction you have signed, but makes his petition three times a day.”

Daniel was caught! The leaders waited for Daniel to pray and then brought their case to the king. They verified the law to the king and accused Daniel.

In addition to breaking the king’s law, they also accused Daniel of ignoring the king. They were making it personal to King Darius. This was a deliberate defiance to the king!

They also showed no respect to Daniel, calling him with disdain, “one of the exiles from Judah”.

 

Daniel 6:14-15
Then the king, when he heard these words, was much distressed and set his mind to deliver Daniel. And he labored till the sun went down to rescue him. Then these men came by agreement to the king and said to the king, “Know, O king, that it is a law of the Medes and Persians that no injunction or ordinance that the king establishes can be changed.”

The king realized that he had been trapped by this law. He worked until sundown to try and find a way to free Daniel from certain death, but to no avail. Sundown was the typical time for executions to be carried out, and the leaders came to the king demanding Daniel’s death.

 

Daniel 6:16-18
Then the king commanded, and Daniel was brought and cast into the den of lions. The king declared to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, deliver you!” And a stone was brought and laid on the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet and with the signet of his lords, that nothing might be changed concerning Daniel. Then the king went to his palace and spent the night fasting; no diversions were brought to him, and sleep fled from him.

With all hope of a rescue being lost, the king had no choice but to carry out the execution. Daniel was taken and thrown into the den of lions. Daniel was silent, but the king uttered the prayer with hope that Daniel’s God may rescue him.

Daniel said nothing, probably because he did not expect to make it through the night alive. God may choose to deliver Daniel through death.1

The lions were kept in an open cavern in the hillside5. We do not know the number of lions, but there were enough to immediately kill all of the officials at once later on. Daniel was probably led down to the cavern and then the door was closed and sealed. No one could get in or out.

The king returned in sorrow that night and the text says that no diversions were brought to him. He could not sleep and none of his typical forms of entertainment were brought to him.

 

Daniel 6:19-20
Then, at break of day, the king arose and went in haste to the den of lions. As he came near to the den where Daniel was, he cried out in a tone of anguish. The king declared to Daniel, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?”

The king rushed to the lions’ den at the first light of dawn. He cried out in anguish to Daniel, hoping that his God was able to deliver him.

Note the title of Daniel, “servant of the living God”! We do not know what the king expected but he came as soon as possible with the hope that the living God was able to deliver Daniel.

The issue was not about Daniel’s goodness or faithfulness, but the issue was about God’s ability. Was God able to save Daniel from certain death?

“the king regarded Daniel’s fate as a test of whether his God was really alive or just an imagined deity like all of the others”3

 

Daniel 6:21-23
Then Daniel said to the king, “O king, live forever! My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths, and they have not harmed me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no harm.” Then the king was exceedingly glad, and commanded that Daniel be taken up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no kind of harm was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.

Somewhere in the darkness was the voice, “O king, live forever!” God had sent his angel to shut the lions’ mouths and Daniel was unharmed.

Daniel declared that he was blameless before God and before the king. God had vindicated Daniel and had shown that Daniel was right in disobeying the king’s law.

The joyful king had Daniel taken up out of the den.

“God could have closed the lions’ mouths by simply saying the word, but He chose to send an angel to do the job. The angel not only controlled the hungry beasts but also kept Daniel company, just as the Lord had come to walk with the three Jewish men whom Nebuchadnezzar had thrown into the fiery furnace (3:24–25).” – Wiersbe4

 

Daniel 6:24
And the king commanded, and those men who had maliciously accused Daniel were brought and cast into the den of lions—they, their children, and their wives. And before they reached the bottom of the den, the lions overpowered them and broke all their bones in pieces.

But the king was not finished. He ordered Daniel’s accusers – the officers and satraps – to be thrown into the lions’ den. If there was any doubt about the lions’ ability to kill, they overpowered the accusers before they hit the ground!

This was probably not the entire group of 122 satraps and high officials, but only the representative group that had accused Daniel4.

The accusers were thrown in with their wives and children. This action seems cruel to kill the accusers’ families and it was certainly contrary to God’s law (Deuteronomy 24:16). But this was common practice for how ancient kings would destroy traitors and their families. Note that scripture simply reports the action without assessing that it was right.

 

Daniel 6:25-27
Then King Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth: “Peace be multiplied to you. I make a decree, that in all my royal dominion people are to tremble and fear before the God of Daniel,
for he is the living God,
enduring forever;
his kingdom shall never be destroyed,
and his dominion shall be to the end.
He delivers and rescues;
he works signs and wonders
in heaven and on earth,
he who has saved Daniel
from the power of the lions.”

The chapter concludes with King Darius sending a decree to his entire kingdom. All people are to tremble and fear before the God of Daniel.

The king’s decree emphasized the following about the God of Daniel3:

  • He is the living God. He is alive and interjects in history.
  • His kingdom lasts forever!
  • He works signs and wonders, delivering his true worshippers!
  • He rescued Daniel from the power of the lions!

Note the similarity to Nebuchadnezzar’s confessions of God (see Daniel 4:34-36).

“Jehovah hadn’t been honored by His own people, but now He was receiving praise from pagan rulers whose decrees would be published throughout the Gentile world.” – Wiersbe4

“It may not always please God to deliver from the trial, but He will always preserve in it, and eventually bring His own in peace out of it.” – Ironside6

 

Daniel 6:28
So this Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.

We do not know how much longer Daniel remained in office, but God allowed him to prosper under this new empire. Daniel 10:1 shows that Daniel lived at least through the third year of King Cyrus.


 

[1] Stephen Davey, From Babylon to Bethlehem, Daniel 6, 12/23/2012

 

[2] The word for “find” shows that the officials searched with complete tenacity. It is similar to searching the history of a politician in order to find any damaging information, or “skeletons in the closet”.1

 

[3] Frank E. Gaebelein, Editor, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Volume 7 (Zondervan, 1985), Daniel 6, pages 77-84

 

[4] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary: Old Testament (David C. Cook, 2007), Daniel 6, pages 1364-1368

 

[5] “Archeologists have uncovered near eastern lion dens or caverns which were actually open from above. They were dug deep into the earth and could be viewed from above. Steps leading down the side to an opening through which they could deposit a condemned prisoner – which they probably did with Daniel – or they could throw over the edge any number of people, which they will do later with these officials.

The lion’s dens were dug in a square fashion, having a partition wall built down the center which divided the den in half. At the base of the partition wall was an iron door hinged so that it could be raised and lowered by a rope from above.

In this way they could throw food into one side and get all the lions over in that section, close the gate and deposit a prisoner in the other side and once they covered that lower doorway with a boulder they could roll into place, they would go up the stairs to the top, raise the gate and the lions would be free to make their way into that other section and kill and eat the unfortunate victim who had nowhere to run or hide.”

– Adapted from C.F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament: Volume 9, (Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1985), p. 2161

 

[6] H.A. Ironside, Lecture 6, THE PRESERVATION OF THE FAITHFUL REMNANT IN TYPE, Daniel 6

 

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2 Comments »

  1. […] Previous post: Politics and Bad Coworkers […]

    Pingback by The History of the World | Sapphire Sky — November 6, 2016 @ 8:30 pm

  2. […] Daniel was also a man of prayer. He prayed every day, even if it was against the law (see here). He prayed earnestly for his people, taking responsibility for their failures, and imploring God […]

    Pingback by The Coming King | Sapphire Sky — January 28, 2017 @ 9:48 pm


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