During the reign of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, Jerusalem was besieged by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. After plundering treasures from the temple, the conquering king had his people round up Israelites from the royal family and from ranks of the nobility. It was the habit of Nebuchadnezzar to carry away not only valuable artifacts from the conquered areas, but people as well. He would take the “best and the brightest” and consign them into royal service back in Babylon (modern day Iraq).
Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring into the king’s service some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility— young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace. He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians. The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king’s service. Daniel 1:3-5, NIV
Daniel is one of the young men taken away to Babylon. Although a captive, Daniel continues to remain true to the God of Israel. He maintains his prayer schedule and abstains from the choice food and wine provided by the king. Because of his devotion to God, the LORD gives Daniel favor with the official in charge of his food, so that he is not be compelled to break God’s dietary laws. God continues to bless Daniel with knowledge and understanding in literature and learning, also granting Daniel the ability to interpret dreams and visions. Under the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel gains stature, and becomes invaluable to king. After the king dies, Daniel goes into retirement until receiving a royal summons from Nebuchadnezzar’s son, Belshazzar.
Apparently the son is fond of wild parties and on this occasion he’s plundered the royal treasury and is drinking from the Jewish temple goblets seized by his father. To his dismay, a disembodied hand appears and begins to write on the wall. The Queen mother remembers that Daniel has expertise in these sorts of matters, so she tells her worthless son. Daniel is brought in to interpret, and tells Belshazzar that the message on the wall is indeed addressed to him. He further states that the young man has been weighed on the scales of God, has been found wanting, and has lost his grip on the kingdom. The Medes and Persians take the city that night. Belshazzar meets his demise, and a change in management occurs. Daniel remains in royal service as Darius the Mede assumes leadership in Babylon.
When our story opens, Daniel has become such a valued administrator, that King Darius has appointed him one of three superintendents over the land. He continues to serve God faithfully. However, not everyone is happy with the situation.
It pleased Darius to appoint 120 satraps to rule throughout the kingdom, with three administrators over them, one of whom was Daniel. The satraps were made accountable to them so that the king might not suffer loss. Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. At this, the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent. Finally these men said, “We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God.” Daniel 6:1-5, NIV
Daniel’s enemies come up with a plan. They would get the king to issue an edict and enforce a decree that would forbid anyone from praying to any God or person, save the king, within the next thirty days under penalty of death. And to make the plan fool-proof, they’d ask the king to put his word in writing, making it irrevocable under Mede and Persian law. So the king does what they ask, and then they wait for Daniel to pray to the living God of Israel. He does so, and they promptly turn him in.
Then they said to the king, “Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, Your Majesty, or to the decree you put in writing. He still prays three times a day.” When the king heard this, he was greatly distressed; he was determined to rescue Daniel and made every effort until sundown to save him. Daniel 6:13-14, NIV
King Darius is in a tight spot. Even though he had been manipulated into making a law that would sentence his friend to death, he is the king and cannot break the law. With no options he can see, and Daniel’s enemies gloating, the king is obligated to enforce the decree, and Daniel becomes the Chef’s Special on the royal lion’s dinner menu.
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!” Daniel 6:16, NIV
Darius has a high regard for Daniel, so he is understandably worried about his safety. Back in his palace, the king doesn’t eat and he doesn’t sleep. Pacing his room, he anxiously waits for morning.
At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den. When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?”
Daniel answered, “May the king live forever! My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, Your Majesty.”
The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God. Daniel 6:19-23, NIV
God miraculously intervenes to protect Daniel in a very public demonstration before the king. This event so impresses Darius that he issues a new decree.
Then King Darius wrote to all the nations and peoples of every language in all the earth: “May you prosper greatly! “I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel. “For he is the living God and he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end. He rescues and he saves; he performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.” Daniel 6:25-27, NIV
God’s protection was a favorable outcome for Daniel, but the event was life-changing for Darius because it led to his conversion. While God still does intervene to save the lives of those who are his, he also provides such opportunities as testimonies to unbelievers, that they might know that God is real and that he loves them.
Daniel’s story was one of endangerment, but God’s provision was one of protection.
Join me tomorrow for a story involving an annual journey, an obnoxious rival, and a provision of answered prayer!
If you’ve missed any part of this series, you can find all of the posts in the side bar category 31 Days of God’s Provision.
On the journey toward Home,