Today’s Reading: Daniel 4-6
Today’s Reflection: Daniel 6:20
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?”
Subject: King Darius of the Medes
History: When Darius, king of the Medes, assassinated Belshazzar and took control of Babylon (Daniel 5:30-31), he looked for worthy men to set over the kingdom. Daniel was one of the men whom the king chose. Because of his excellent spirit Daniel was promoted higher and higher. Just as Daniel was about to become the second most powerful man in Babylon, next only to the king himself, the other senior officials conspired to destroy him. Knowing his faith, they tricked Darius into signing a law that would make prayer to any deity an offence punishable by death. Knowing of the law Daniel continued praying to God publicly three times a day, just as he had always done. When the matter was brought to Darius he reluctantly found Daniel guilty and sentenced him to be cast into a den of lions, but not before telling him he hoped his God would save him (Daniel 6:1-16).
Becoming: This is a story about a believer. Not the man who already was one, but the man who became one.
Darius the Mede would have not been raised knowing the God of Israel. He was a pagan, raised to believe that by becoming a king he himself could become a god. He probably would have heard the stories of this God and the ‘myths’ of fire from heaven, and destroying the armies of Egypt in the sea through his education, but nothing in his upbringing would have suggested that the God of Israel was real.
But then Darius met Daniel, and he saw something different in him than in any other man he knew. He was wise and spoke with authority, yet he had no desire to attain power or receive honours for himself. He attributed every good thing he was to his God. Through getting to know Daniel, Darius got to know God. And before he even realized what was happening, Darius began to believe.
When Darius realized he had been tricked into sentencing Daniel to death, he uttered his first prayer in Daniel 6:16: “May your God, whom you serve continually, deliver you!” Darius then spent the night fasting out of concern for his dear friend (a behaviour learned where? Probably from observing Daniel’s own behaviour in trying times).
When Daniel emerged from the lions den unscathed, Darius had his first experience of seeing faith come to fruition. Darius made it the law of the land for all people to respect the God of Israel as the one true living God (Daniel 6:25-28). Darius would also play a key role in allowing the temple at Jerusalem to be rebuilt and the temple instruments restored (Ezra 6:1-12)
Lession: When we live out our faith we bring God into the presence of everyone we meet, including non-believers. No one is changed or saved by church programs, church buildings, or church attendance alone. People are changed by encountering God. When we let the mind of Christ live in us (1 Corinthians 2:16; Philippians 2:5) and are led by the Holy Spirit to do that which glorifies the Father wherever we go, we allow these encounters to happen.
Daniel did this, and a pagan king became convinced that what he’d only known as a crazy sounding myth was real and eternally true. If we will do this, there is no limit to what will be accomplished in Jesus name.