The concluding chapter in our exploration of the life of Daniel.
We approached the Work His Way series by addressing some general principles around what it would be to represent the Lord in the workplace. That was right on the heels of Living It Out. We talked about how we want to live out our faith in Jesus and invite others into life with Him. How much of that takes place in the workplace where we engage people. We spent some time talking about that and then shifted our focus toward a particular study of a man in the Bible who has a book named after him and wrote the book of Daniel. We’ve been focusing on this amazing character from the older Testament, Daniel, who had such a challenging work environment. We’ve been drawing principles from his life. Many of us are aware of Daniel. When we left off, Daniel was in a unique situation. There was a plot going on where he worked. It was designed to take him out. In his case, the goal was not just to have him removed from his office and his position. But for his enemies and rivals, the ideal scenario would be to have him killed. It was a very delicate and devious thing that they planned out.
It was rumored that Daniel was to be placed above all these other peers, and was going to be second only to the king of Babylon. At the time, it was the Medes and Persian appointed king, King Darius. These rivals created this plan. They had an idea that there were two things they could exploit. One, they felt like they couldn’t exploit Daniel’s quality of work. They tried to go behind the scenes. They went through his life looking for opportunities to exploit something that they might have seen, some impropriety or something he had on the side. When they looked at the quality of his work and life, they couldn’t find anything. They had a sense, and it was an accurate one, that there was one particular vulnerability that Daniel possessed that had to do with his faith and love for God. It was his commitment to practicing that faith, even in the foreign land that he was in.
Remember Daniel had been taken captive as a young man from Israel and brought to Babylon. There’s no sense that he was ever going to be given the freedom to return to his homeland. Daniel ends up moving into his adult years, very skilled at what he did. He was a highly skilled administrator. He had a particular gift for it and a quality of character that matched it. He was not free. But they knew that this tenacious commitment he had to his faith in God was something they could use to bring him down. Daniel’s faith seemed to be the spot that they could exploit. They came up with a plan. The plan involved two things. One, an assumption that Daniel wouldn’t compromise his core commitments to the Lord and the practice of his religion. Secondly, they thought the king was vulnerable because he has a big ego. If they could create a scenario by appealing to the king’s ego, they could put Daniel in a place where he’s going to destroy himself because he won’t compromise his faith. They came up with this plan.
They went to the king and they said we’d like to do something to honor you for about 30 days. We’d like to have a law drawn up. According to the law of the Medes and Persians king, once you put your seal on it, it’s irrevocable. We’d like to have you honored in a special way, to be worshiped above all things. Like the king God that you are. If you would do this, we would like to propose a law that would suggest that for these 30 days, no one can worship anyone but you. Darius was flattered and agreed to do it. He signed it into law. Well, sure enough, they had done that only to be able to set up a scenario to get Daniel. They figured Daniel is not going to go along with this law. They knew they had an idea that he was going to violate it. That sets up where we’re going to pick up the story in Daniel six.
We will start with the 10th verse. They went to work and calculated things properly. It says that when Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open towards Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed. He gave thanks before his God as he had done previously. These men came by agreement and found Daniel making his prayers and plea before his God, just like they assumed he would. When the law was passed, it didn’t change Daniel’s practice. They knew it. I want to draw some things from it though, and we’ll walk through how this ends in a moment. There were some things that I want to highlight in relation to Work His Way. One seems so obvious, there was a public component to Daniel’s faith. This is important for us, especially those of us who have a love for the Lord and desire to represent Him in our work environments even when we’re cross-pollinating with other sectors of our field. When we engage others, we would like to be able to represent the Lord well.
I think it’s important to remember there was a kind of openness on the part of Daniel, even though he was in an extraordinarily complex environment in which a lot of things happened that he didn’t feel good about. I think some of us can relate to that. He didn’t have a lot of choices. I want to note, people were aware of his commitment to the Lord. People knew about it, even his enemies. The king knew about it to some degree as we’re going to see in a moment. Daniel wasn’t secretive about his love for the Lord, the God of Israel. He was neither overly aggressive nor was he ashamed. He wasn’t covert. That’s pretty apparent. He is revealed as having adapted to the culture without adopting it. He adapted to the culture without adopting the culture. He’s living in Babylon. He chooses not to adopt its presuppositions and worldviews. He retains a distinctiveness in his faith, even as he attempted to fit into the courts of Babylon.
There’s a very important thing for us to be thinking about. No doubt there were choices that he had to make. I have tried to make the case that they weren’t always easy. All of us will have different situations in which we have different levels of freedom to express our love for the Lord. There are certain cultures where it is a lot easier to do that and the challenges are different. For some of us, the challenge isn’t that we can’t, it’s that we feel peer pressured not to. It may be, in other cases, that there might be aspects of our lives we feel don’t line up the way we hoped they would. Perhaps that alone keeps us from being too outspoken about how we want to follow God and what an important thing it is in our lives. Still, for others, it’s clear, even if it’s unsaid, overtly made known that there is a way in which things are operating. If you have faith and a genuine love for the Lord, based on some of the stereotypes that are out there, particularly as they in the news today are often exploited, there is a pressure to say nothing. To be hidden, if you will, almost like a chameleon who adapts.
Daniel clearly had to deal with things that weren’t always easy. There were areas that he probably did not feel good about and had to work with them. There were other areas where he had to feel like this is where I have to attempt to hold my line. There were probably situations that came up where based on his commitment to the Lord, he had to find an alternative third path. There were other times when he felt like he needed to not push and go with it. There clearly were things that people were aware of that connected his life to a love for God. That’s pretty apparent. Not only was there this public component, but there was also a private self-management component to his faith and spiritual life as well. It’s revealed in these verses. He was a man with established patterns and practices of devotion. We read that 10th verse. He prayed regularly. In his case, he prayed three times a day. He based this on practice and pattern. He prayed in the morning, evening, and at noon.
He marked the opening of his day by spending that time with God. He had a middle point in his day where he reminded himself of who the Lord was in his life. He had a point at the close of his day where he reflected back on it and honored God as a way of marking its close. This is the pattern and rhythm in the life of Daniel. I think that it’s very important. One more thing we notice in the 10th and 11th verses. He had a place of space where he prayed, which is interesting. He had a rhythm and a place. It says he would go up to his house, seemingly when possible. Most likely he had a lot of flexibility to do it. He would go into the upper chamber, into an upper room of his house. There was a space that he had dedicated as part of his rhythm of meeting with God. It’s important to note that. Daniel did this and it allowed him to keep the Lord on his mind, at the center of his life. As some of us are probably aware, our Lord Jesus, when He was on earth, did something very similar. This is an example of Jesus who, if anyone didn’t need to pray, it’s Jesus. Jesus aligned Himself in His humanity with the Father. He did it on a pretty consistent basis. Mark one says, “Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight.” It’s before the day even starts. “He went out and departed to a solitary place, and there He prayed.” We see another example where He often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed. There’s a practice with the Lord, there were always people around Him, to create space to be alone with the Father.
It was a very critical part of the example of the Lord. I think we live in a particularly noisy world. In fact, I would say generationally, there’s never been a generation as noisy as ours. I mean that from the standpoint that we’re always connected. Always. It takes tremendous energy to disconnect ourselves from technology. I am not anti-technology by any stretch of the words. I think it’s a tremendous gift that we’ve been given. At the same time, it carries with it unique things that can create a certain level of toxicity. Particularly, though not exclusively at a spiritual level because you have to create space. What I notice with Jesus, and I see this happen with Daniel as well, is they had a practice of space created in their lives where they could be alone. In Daniel’s case, he would line up and seek God. In the Lord’s case, when He was on earth, He would align Himself with the Father.
One of the things we know about prayer is that it’s a way of reorienting ourselves towards God. Prayer and devotion are refocusing mechanisms that help put things back into perspective and place. There is a tendency to start getting off course. We start drifting. The words and things that are coming at us are bombarding our life on a regular basis. They are not moving us towards the Lord. We have to have alignment time to do this right, in order to have the character base that Daniel had required a consistent realignment. We will notice that in our own lives that there is always going to be a connection between what happens in our inner world and what shows up in our outer world. What comes out in our relationships is usually a product of what’s going on with our critical relationship at the Lord. These are places where we get ourselves focused back in the right direction.
Sometimes some things start weighing on our minds. We start getting anxious and putting the wrong emphasis on things. We start getting offended on an issue. We start getting out of sorts and focus on the wrong things. We’ve got our priorities inverted. Sometimes in these places, we see what prayer can do for us. It allows us to dig through all the stuff and get to the heart of the matter. If you want to follow the Lord in a healthy way, it is one of the reasons we always talk about the value of devotions. It’s having time to express our devotion to the Lord and to receive an interaction of life with Him.
One of the things we encourage everyone to do is have a time of prayer. Just talk to the Lord and listen for Him. Have your scriptures open. Have a passage, read it through. Try to read the Bible in a regular way. We’re going to see that’s something that Daniel did. One of the things we always encourage everyone to do is try to have a devotional as well. It’s like a little commentary, thought, and prayer point. We have these things that we always make available. They’re called Little Daily Breads. Anyone can have one. You can pick one up anytime. At the church, we have them available as a supplemental piece. If you’ve never done a devotional, it’s nice. You have a little verse to read, a little commentary, a little prayer. The pastors at either campus can help you if you want to know and have more exposure to other types of devotions that can be read with the scriptures and as part of a prayer life.
Anyone who’s been following Jesus for any amount of time will be able to help someone. If you’re newer, to know how you can deepen your personal life with God. What I’m trying to say is for this to work well, that piece needs to be there. It’s an important part, otherwise, we can drift out. To a certain extent, Daniel’s consistency, the quality of his person was connected to the sincere and disciplined way in which he approached his relationship with God. I was looking at the physicality of his prayer, the ritual of it. There’s symbolism in it. Think about what he’s doing just in your mind’s eye. There were certain things Daniel would do as mechanisms that were a part of his way of approaching the Lord. He had times that he would pray. The bible says he would go to his house and walk up the stairs to the upper chamber. When he got to the upper chamber we’re told he would open the window and face his Jerusalem. He could never go back home to Jerusalem. He didn’t think that was going to happen for him, but he prayed as best as he could towards the place of promise. The Bible says that he gets down on his knees and begins to pray towards the open windows, towards Jerusalem, the place of promise. He begins to pray to God.
There’s a very consistent approach that Daniel’s taken. The very act of kneeling is a sense of humbling himself under the Lord. He’s beginning to honor the Lord. He’s beginning to reach forward into that open space. I love the idea of Daniel opening the windows and bringing himself to a point where he begins to pray towards Jerusalem. Praying toward the place where the Lord’s presence is identified in the temple, where his people are, the place of promise. Are there windows that God wants us to open up as a symbol of faith and hope, promises that He wants us to pray into and believe? Every time Daniel opened up those windows, he was making a statement. It was connected to the hope that someday his captive people would be allowed to return home to the land of Israel and the great city of David Jerusalem.
If you check out and read Daniel nine, one of the things you’ll see in that ninth chapter is that Daniel is reading the writings of the prophet Jeremiah. Jeremiah wrote and prophetically declared that the Jewish people would be allowed to return to the land of their fathers after 70 years of captivity. The first movement of return would occur about 70 years into captivity when a season of judgment had occurred in the life of God’s people. There was going to come a release. When Daniel would open up those windows, that’s another example. He would take the scriptures and pray into that promise. He opened it up and he’d pray into it. I found myself asking, “Lord, are there things that you are calling me to open up and to pray into on the basis of your promise?” There are going to be things. There’s something about that. Are there some things that the Lord is saying, “You need to pray into this?” It might be points of promise and liberation in our own life. It might have to do with a legacy that God wants us to leave behind, and we’re having a hard time. The pull of that is having a hard time keeping us.
Maybe there’s something we feel that God is trying to say in this season of your life. I want to establish this. I need you to pray into this promise. I need you to confess this promise. I need you to open up the windows and move towards that promise. It’s a promise to come to pass. It might have to do with a situation we find ourselves in, maybe even at the workplace. It might have to do with a person, relationship, situation, or child. Maybe it’s a child who’s now an adult, who we pray and yearn to see come back to the Lord. The seeds are there. We pray into that promise. I’ve seen people who I love come to the Lord in their sixties and seventies in amazing, productive ways. We cannot underestimate. We do not know. How many years was that promise for Daniel? It was a 70-year promise he was praying into. I don’t know how long it was. It was a part of his life. In Daniel’s case, he was in captivity. Maybe there’s a point of captivity in our lives that we feel we need to be released from. Or at least it’s a hindrance that’s keeping us from someplace of promise that we sense God wants us to move into. Are there things He wants us to open our windows toward? A posture He wants us to take towards a promise in our lives that we’re feeling called to claim as our own?
Let’s look at verse 12. It says, “Then they came near and said before the king,” after they catch Daniel praying and say, “Oh, King, we need to bring something to your attention. You did not sign an injunction that anyone who makes a petition to any God or man within 30 days, except you, O King, would be cast into the den of lions,” which was their way of saying they’d be put to death. That was the mechanism with which it was done. The king answered, “The thing stands fast.” According to the law of the Medes and Persians, once I gave that approval, it cannot be revoked. It’s part of our way. It’s the law of our land, the law of our people. There is this man, you know him well, Daniel, one of the exiles. In verse 13, “one of the exiles from Judah.” I think you need to be aware of the fact that he doesn’t pay attention to you. This decree means nothing to him. The injunction you have signed, he totally ignores and violates it. Three times a day he prays to his God. When the king heard these words he was very distressed. For the first time, he realized what this was all about. Later on, we’re going to see that the King cared for Daniel. He respected Daniel. He appreciated Daniel. He realizes now that he’s being played.
Now he’s distressed because he fears that there’s no way out of this situation. He’s going to lose Daniel. Daniel’s a key man for him. He understands what’s happened. He’s very disturbed. It says. “He sets his mind to deliver Daniel.” In fact, he spends the entire day trying to figure a way around the law. He labored till the sun went down to find a way to somehow create an exclusion and get him out of the situation. He couldn’t find a way to rescue him though. He finally gets to the point where he reluctantly has to concede and feels like he has no choice. Daniel is going to have to be thrown into the den of hungry lions. This might be where we don’t relate directly to that anymore, obviously.
Having a den of lions and throwing someone into it was a reliable way of execution in their day. The lions had patterns of eating and they were particularly groomed for moments. There was usually a hole and there would be a cave or a den below. It was not uncommon for the person who was being put to death to be thrown into the hole. Before they completely hit the ground because it was a pattern of feeding, they would be torn to shreds rapidly. It sounds brutal and it was. It was a method that was extremely effective. This was what Daniel was facing. All I can remember is I was looking at this and I remember back to when I was a boy. I grew up on 47th Avenue until I was around 12 years old. I lived right by the beach between Wawona and Vicente on 47th avenue. If any of you know the city, you’d know that it’s right across the street from where the old Fleishhacker pool is now. It was known then as Fleishhacker Zoo, which is our zoo now.
For a period of my time when I was a boy, it was free. We could go in anytime. It was like a playground. I would go there with some of my neighborhood friends and we’d hang out. One of the things I always remember that stuck in my mind vividly, was around two o’clock there was the lion feeding. I was so intrigued by it. I remember thinking, “Oh, I have to go back to the lion’s house to watch it.” It’s probably bigger in my mind’s eye. As a boy, I remember seeing them bring out what looked like huge slabs of meat. The lion would go at it and start eating it. For some reason, I always think about Daniel when I think about that. We’re told in the scripture is that Daniel is spared. Miraculously. He’s thrown down and as he is falling, we’re told he’s not eaten. He’s not even touched. God supernaturally intervened to keep the lions at bay, or at least He made Daniel unappetizing.
The king, who is revealed as a friend and an admirer of Daniel, couldn’t eat or sleep the whole night. He comes the next morning fully expecting that his best employee has been devoured. Darius is stunned, amazed, and overjoyed to find him alive. One of the things I realized as the years have gone by is that I would sometimes meet people who had an unusual amount of wealth or power in their lives. It began to dawn on me how lonely they were. It took me a while because a lot of times they couldn’t trust if people liked them for who they were, or they just trying to use them. I almost said, “Well, I would like to have that problem.” But, there’s a real issue there. I think Darius had few people he trusted. One of the things that are revealed here is that Daniel wasn’t just his best employee. He was also someone who was a friend to him. He could trust him in a culture where you could see people were working all over the place to try to manipulate for a position or take people down. You had to watch out your back from getting stabbed from behind.
Here you have a person that the king has who is a quality man he trusts. A person who has shown him kindness and true goodness. It’s connected to his love for God. In verse 19, it says, “Then at the break of day, the king arose and he went and hastened to the den of lions. As he came near the den where Daniel was, he cried out in a tone of anguish.” The King declared to Daniel, “Oh, Daniel, Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God whom you serve continually. Has he been able to deliver you from the lions?” Daniel said to the king, which I love this phrase, “Oh, King, live forever. My God sent his angel and shut the lion’s mouth, and they have not harmed me because I was fair, blameless, and innocent before Him. Also truly before you, oh, King, I’ve done no harm.” Verse 23 says, “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 God.” The Bible says this so simply, beautifully, and unadorned, in this attempt to try to persuade us beyond anything other than just stating it.
I know this was a miraculous deliverance. We get that. Not every deliverance comes to us in the way we want on this side of eternity. This too I have seen. As I’ve told people in their wounds, some healing and deliverance come on the other side fully. We were having this discussion last night and someone said, “This body will not last in this life. We’ll be gone from this world.” We all will. Some healing and deliverance come when we cross the bridge, if you will, in the promise in Christ. As I’ve thought about it, I do believe the Lord has things He wants to deliver us from and into. The last point that I would love to submit is I believe some dens are places from which God wants to deliver us. I think what many of us are being invited into is His capacity to deliver. Dens are those places in our lives of peril. Where we fear for our life and wonder if we’ll survive. I’ve been through a few, might be in one or two now to some degree. At least I can say there are places where if God doesn’t show up, we know we’re in trouble.
It could be at work like Daniel’s situation had to do with his work. If God didn’t show up, he was in trouble. It could be in our home life. It could be with something financial. It could be health. If you want to get down to it, Daniel’s was a health-related issue. Where do we desperately need God to show up for us? That’s the question? What deliverance do we need? I’ll leave us with this verse that meant something to me. Psalm 27, 13, and 14. It says, “I would’ve lost heart unless I had believed I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” I love that. “I would’ve lost heart unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”
The Psalmist says, “Wait on the Lord.” Wait on the Lord. Now the word “wait” is interesting. If you look at it in Hebrew, it means to linger with expectation. If you probe more deeply into the root of the word, what you find is that it has something interesting and distinctive in it. At its most base root, they’re not quite sure exactly how the word evolved, but they’re pretty clear this word we translate as “wait,” had to do with the idea of gathering something together. Then tying and twisting it. The word is connected to the idea of twisting something that is pulled around, something that has been gathered together, which is a fascinating metaphor if you think about it. The idea of waiting involves time to collect it. The idea of twisting something wasn’t like tying a knot. It had to do with this idea of twisting like a rope or a line around what was gathered. There’s something about this idea of waiting on the Lord. I was thinking, Lord, it’s like you’re using the word at its root. In these situations where we need courage because fear is there. Fear can show up in a lot of ways. It doesn’t always show up in timid ways.
Fear can show up in anger. We feel like we have to be aggressive. It can show itself up in a stoic, unfeeling kind of disconnectedness. It shows up in a lot of ways. Fear gets us into doing stuff that’s unhealthy. But the Lord says, be of good courage and He will strengthen our heart. “Wait. I say to you, wait on the Lord.” Linger with expectation. That idea of intertwining something when you’re gathering takes time. So we intertwine. Something about that idea of intertwining reminded me that I’m waiting with the idea that I’m not alone. I’m with you Lord. And you’re with me. I have intertwined myself in this situation with you. We’re together. The idea of twisting that piece is part of the waiting process with the Lord. It’s not just the waiting. I’m waiting with Him intertwined into my situation. I think that’s what Jesus was doing right before the cross when He goes into the garden. He intertwines Himself with the Father when He says, “Father if it’s possible, take this cup from me.” Nevertheless, I intertwine myself with your will. “Not my will, but yours be done.”
There’s this idea of aligning, intertwining, and waiting at that moment. I think there’s something about that when our will and His will are connected. My future is intertwined with you. I’m waiting in this situation as I’m praying into this open window. I’m believing in this promise and I intertwine myself with you in it. We are woven together here, Lord, you and me. I’m not by myself. I brought you right into this waiting time of my life. Do you see the power that’s in that? Daniel’s a model of it. Many times, that’s how God brings His deliverance into our lives. It’s not just the outcome. It’s the process of getting there. Oftentimes, that is where the real growth takes place.
Let’s pray together, and we’ll have our time of giving. Lord, I thank you for the faithfulness of our church. For those who express their devotion to you, not just in their private time with you, but in the way in which they honor you in their giving patterns. It allows us to be a church, have this expression, and reach out in your name, in the city. I thank you for that faith. I don’t say that enough. I want to ask Lord that as we bring this time to a close, you would underscore, emphasize, or highlight the area that we’re to be praying into at this time in our life. A lot of this has had to do with being very specific with our intentions, not being a passive follower of you, but someone who is contending for promise in our lives. Some of us are in these waiting zones. We’re not sure when or how it’s going to happen. We feel a lot like Daniel. We’re praying into a promise we believe. We don’t know when exactly it’s going to happen, where we are totally in the place of waiting. But we’re trusting you. We’re intertwining our life with you. We’re walking with you. We’re not pushing you away. We’re including you right there. Where you go, we go. Where we go, we have you with us, Lord. “Lo,” you said, “I am with you always, even into the end of the age.” Lord, walk with us, not just to the end of the age, but walk with us in this season of our life that we’re in. Wherever it is that we need to have more courage, more trust, let us remember that in the end it’s because of you and what you’ve done that’s made it possible for us to follow you the way we would like to follow, honor you, and bless others. I pray the blessing of goodness and grace of Jesus over all of us here and at the other campus. I just pray for it in the name of Jesus. Amen.