Be Brave: When the Lions Circle

Dr. Jon Morrissette - 10/20/2019

I don’t think we could exaggerate what an “extraordinary” man Daniel was. In life we often put people on a pedestal. Maybe they possess some remarkable talent or ability. Maybe they stand out because of their charisma, athleticism, strength, energy, health, aptitude, intelligence, stature, or good looks. Maybe they stand out because of their lineage—who their related to, they are first class, of noble lineage, royalty. Daniel would have checked all of these boxes. Throughout his life, a number of things became apparent about Daniel’s life.

First, Daniel was a Man of Extraordinary Potential. As a teenager, Daniel 1:4, he was found to be “without any physical defect, good-looking, suitable for instruction in all wisdom, knowledgeable, perceptive, and capable of serving in the king’s palace.” He learned the Chaldean culture, language, literature, religions. Daniel 1:19 tells us “there was no one equal” to Daniel and his companions (Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah). Daniel 1:20 tells that “In every matter of wisdom and understanding that the king consulted them about, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and mediums in his entire kingdom.”

Every human being is of equal worth/value in the Lord’s eyes. But not everyone is created equal. God gives some five talents, some three, some one. It’s Acts 17:16, God ordains the times and places people live. I’ve spent my life hanging around people of far superior talent/ability/potential than myself—but they didn’t amount to much because they squandered what God gave them and didn’t serve God. This is an extraordinary thing… God gave His best to Daniel; and Daniel gave his best to God. Why is it that Babylon always has to get our best? Boy if every young person gave their best to God, imagine what extraordinary things would happen!

Second, Daniel was a Man of Extraordinary Wisdom. An intelligent person can unravel the mysteries of the physical universe—but only a wise person can understand the mind of God. Daniel 1:17 tells us Daniel “understood visions and dreams of every kind.” Daniel 2:20-23—Daniel understood the deep/hidden things of God. Darkness was as light to him. Now such wisdom doesn’t come from mere intuition—Daniel repeatedly makes it clear that wisdom belongs to God and is given by God. Every King Daniel served benefitted from his penetrating wisdom/insight. Nebuchadnezzar. Belshazzar. Darius. Cyrus. Daniel 6:1-2 begins with this statement: “Darius decided to appoint 120 satraps over the kingdom, stationed throughout the realm, 2 and over them three administrators, including Daniel. These satraps would be accountable to them so that the king would not be defrauded.” Time and again, in administration after administration, Daniel was promoted into positions of great responsibility. Throughout Scripture God promises that if we’d seek wisdom and follow it, we’d experience success. You don’t have to come by God’s wisdom through the school of hard knocks—you could just ask God for wisdom from the start and avoid the pitfalls/hardships of others altogether.

Third, Daniel was a Man of Extraordinary Spirit. Daniel 6:3 says, “Daniel distinguished himself above the administrators and satraps because he had an extraordinary spirit, so the king planned to set him over the whole realm.” Remember what Nebuchadnezzar said to Daniel in Daniel 4:9, “…you have the spirit of the holy gods and that no mystery puzzles you, explain to me the visions of my dream that I saw, and its interpretation.” Remember what the Queen told King Belshazzar last week? Daniel 5:11-12, “There is a man in your kingdom who has a spirit of the holy gods in him. In the days of your predecessor he was found to have insight, intelligence, and wisdom like the wisdom of the gods. . . [he has] the ability to interpret dreams, explain riddles, and solve problems.” What is the first thing we often notice about a person? Is it not their Spirit? Galatians 5:22-23, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” We don’t come by these fruit any other way than keeping in step with the Holy Spirit of the Living God.

Fourth, Daniel was a Man of Extraordinary Character. The whole reason Daniel was appointed over 120 Satraps in Daniel 6:2 is because the King didn’t want to “be defrauded.” I mean isn’t it just as true today as it was back in Daniel’s day? Who can really be trusted? Can you think of anyone who has used their privileges to defraud others, and personally enrich themselves? The reason Trump defies gravity isn’t because he’s man of extraordinary character—it’s because all the alternatives are equally bankrupt! Look at Daniel 6:4-5, “The administrators and satraps, therefore, kept trying to find a charge against Daniel regarding the kingdom. But they could find no charge or corruption, for he was trustworthy, and no negligence or corruption was found in him. 5 Then these men said, “We will never find any charge against this Daniel unless we find something against him concerning the law of his God.” Daniel wasn’t bankrupt and deficient of character like the 120 satraps, and they knew it.

Fifth, Daniel was a Man of Extraordinary Devotion. Daniel 6:10 tells us that was Daniel’s custom to go into his house, to go upstairs, and to open a window facing Jerusalem. “… Three times a day he got down on his knees, prayed, and gave thanks to his God, just as he had done before…” In a moment we will see how even King Darius recognizes that not only is Daniel a servant of the living God… but that in everything, he continually serves God. The worse thing someone could say about us is that we were self-serving. It’s the nightmare eulogy. The best is that we served God continually.

Sixth, Daniel was a Man of Extraordinary Faith. We’re going to see this again today (Daniel 6:23). Daniel’s first instinct is to get on his knees, pray and trust God. Because he trusts God ne never loses a night of sleep. Everyone else does, but not Daniel. Kings/kingdoms come and go, but Daniel is the last man standing. He trusts God.

Last, Daniel was a Man of Extraordinary Legacy. Long before we even get to Daniel 6, his name is renown, his faith well-known and his belief in God fully vindicated.

I’m just going to cut right to it folks. As much as we might like to possess extraordinary potential, wisdom, Holy Spirit fruit, Character, Spiritual devotion, faith, a God-sized legacy of impact… do beware. Our world, the Babylons, know nothing about building extraordinary men/women. Our world does know how to destroy good people.

The Devil has a four-part strategy to destroy God’s servants, and you can see it take shape in Daniel 6. Step #1: Attack Your Faith. Daniel 6:5, “Then these men said, “We will never find any charge against this Daniel unless we find something against him concerning the law of his God.” Let’s see. We can’t get Daniel to betray King Darius, let’s induce him to betray his God. Remember what the Devil did with Jesus? Jesus was growing in wisdom, stature, favor of men/God. The Holy Spirit descends on Jesus, God says, “With my son I’m so pleased.” So, what does the devil do? He isolates Jesus in the wilderness. He tempts Jesus to gratify his flesh/break his fast, and eat bread, he offers to make Jesus Facebook famous, a truly viral spectacle, if he’d leap from the temple and let the angels catch him, he offers Jesus worldly power/success/wealth if Jesus could just bow down and worship him. Do you think temptation is just a coincidence? Do you think the devil is just going to leave a good man, good woman, or good boy/girl alone?

Step #2: Manipulate the Law. If you can’t destroy a person with existing laws, then twist, manipulate, reinterpret, bend and abuse the law to serve your nefarious goals. Create a hostile climate for people of faith. Hatch a plot to make it illegal for them to pray and practice any kind of public faith, to live out any sort of Holy Principle, to hold unto anything sacred. Daniel 6:6-7, “So the administrators and satraps went together to the king and said to him, “May King Darius live forever. All the administrators of the kingdom, the prefects, satraps, advisers, and governors have agreed that the king should establish an ordinance and enforce an edict that for thirty days, anyone who petitions (prays to) any god or man except you, the king, will be thrown into the lions’ den.”

Step #3: Secure Political Power. In Daniel 6:8-9 the satraps conceal their true intentions/motives and manipulate the King. He think’s their doing him a favor! “Therefore, Your Majesty, establish the edict and sign the document so that, as a law of the Medes and Persians, it is irrevocable and cannot be changed.” So King Darius signed the written edict.” We see this in our own day. If those in authority would take things straight to the people, and state their true goals/intentions up front, the public would reject 99% of the idiotic policies/laws that are written. But that’s not how it happens. Under the cover of night, laws are passed. By manipulating and reinterpreting the laws, liberalizing the courts, playing procedural/political power games—this is how the radicals work, this is how religious freedom (and many others) is stolen.

Step #4: Go for the Jugular. I really need to say this. As Christian people we feel compelled to be so nice/tolerant about everything. The Satraps are circling their wagons, plotting evil, and somehow, we feel compelled to hold hands and sing another stanza of Kum-Bah-Yah. I think this is the problem with good people today. We assume everyone is good. We assume though ignorant, everyone has really good intentions. In reality the Satraps are the enemies of God. In reality, they have murderous, destructive intentions. The reason they are called SA-TRAPS is because everything they say is a trap. And whenever they are given power, their true ruthless savage character springs forth!

1 Peter 5:8-9, “Be sober-minded, be alert. Your adversary the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. 9 Resist him, firm in the faith, knowing that the same kind of sufferings are being experienced by your fellow believers throughout the world.” Ever seen a lion attack? The lion wants to inflict a mortal wound. He leaps for the jugular vein in the neck as a first point of attack. He isn’t messing around! Don’t be shocked when God’s enemies go for your jugular. Kindness and tolerance is just a strategy to gain trust, their ultimate goal is to kill and destroy.

Daniel 6:10-18. The Satraps spring their Trap. “10 When Daniel learned that the document had been signed, he went into his house. The windows in its upstairs room opened toward Jerusalem, and three times a day he got down on his knees, prayed, and gave thanks to his God, just as he had done before. 11 Then these men went as a group and found Daniel petitioning and imploring his God. 12 So they approached the king and asked about his edict: “Didn’t you sign an edict that for thirty days any person who petitions any god or man except you, the king, will be thrown into the lions’ den?”

The king answered, “As a law of the Medes and Persians, the order stands and is irrevocable.” 13 Then they replied to the king, “Daniel, one of the Judean exiles, has ignored you, the king, and the edict you signed, for he prays three times a day.”

14 As soon as the king heard this, he was very displeased; he set his mind on rescuing Daniel and made every effort until sundown to deliver him.

15 Then these men went together to the king and said to him, “You know, Your Majesty, that it is a law of the Medes and Persians that no edict or ordinance the king establishes can be changed.”

Do you see the Machiavellian savagery of the Satraps here? You passed this law O King. You also have to pull the trigger! You know I’ve been contemplating this story in Daniel 6 several months now. It is so eerily reminiscent of an even more extraordinary person, and more extraordinary story that would occur centuries later. Jesus was every bit a man of extraordinary potential, wisdom, Holy Spirit fruit, Character, Spiritual devotion, faith (as was Daniel). All the tactics that were employed by the Satraps to destroy Daniel were employed by the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Teachers of the Law to entrap Jesus.

Jesus was never found guilty of breaking the laws of God, only the manufactured traditions/laws of men. The cowardly Jewish leaders lacked both the moral authority and courage to directly destroy Jesus so what did they do? They manipulated the laws, and witness, and setup a kangaroo court, and exploited a loophole and manipulate a King by the name of Pilate to do their deadly deed. Remember, they begged Pilate to release Barabbas (a true murderer and scoundrel) and instead crucify Jesus? Pilate wanted nothing to do with it—but was manipulated by the Jewish Leaders. He found Jesus innocent. He washed his hands of Jesus’ blood. Remember, the Bible says Pilate’s wife was bothered that night by terrible dreams. Nobody in Pilate’s household slept the night before Jesus’ crucifixion. Matthew 27:19, “While Pilate was sitting on the judge's seat, his wife sent him this message: "Don't have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.” But Pilate’s hand was politically forced. . .

And so what did they do with Jesus? He was thrown to the dogs, those Jews. They crucified Jesus on that cross, they took his body and threw it in a tomb and rolled a stone over the mouth of the tomb. I bet Jesus’ enemies were pretty proud of themselves at that point! But what does the Bible tell us about Jesus? The Bible tells us in death, though led like sheep to slaughter, Jesus entrusted Himself to the Father! 1 Peter 3!

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 continually serve, rescue you!” 17 A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den. The king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the signet rings of his nobles, so that nothing in regard to Daniel could be changed. 18 Then the king went to his palace and spent the night fasting. No diversions were brought to him, and he could not sleep.”

Daniel had peace in lion’s den; Darius didn't have peace in palace. Jesus has peace on that cross, even in death; Pilate didn’t have peace in his palace. What irony! Daniel 6:19-24, “19 At the first light of dawn the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den. 20 When he reached the den, he cried out in anguish to Daniel. “Daniel, servant of the living God,” the king said, “has your God, whom you continually serve, been able to rescue you from the lions?” 21 Then Daniel spoke with the king: “May the king live forever. 22 My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths; and they haven’t harmed me, for I was found innocent before him. And also, before you, Your Majesty, I have not done harm.”

Luke 24:1-6, “On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came to the tomb, bringing the spices they had prepared. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb. 3 They went in but did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men stood by them in dazzling clothes. 5 So the women were terrified and bowed down to the ground. “Why are you looking for the living among the dead?” asked the men. 6 “He is not here, but he has risen!”

Daniel 6:23-28, “The king was overjoyed and gave orders to take Daniel out of the den. When Daniel was brought up from the den, he was found to be unharmed, for he trusted in his God. 24 The king then gave the command, and those men who had maliciously accused Daniel were brought and thrown into the lions’ den—they, their children, and their wives. They had not reached the bottom of the den before the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones.

Remember… Daniel was a man of Extraordinary Legacy? Here it is…

“25 Then King Darius wrote to those of every people, nation, and language who live on the whole earth: “May your prosperity abound. 26 I issue a decree that in all my royal dominion, people must tremble in fear before the God of Daniel: For he is the living God, and he endures forever; his kingdom will never be destroyed, and his dominion has no end. 27 He rescues and delivers; he performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth, for he has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.” 28 So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.”

In light of these two stories, what ought we conclude about God’s power to deliver us from our enemies? How about a little Romans 8:34-39, “Christ Jesus is the one who died, but even more, has been raised; he also is at the right hand of God and intercedes for us.

[The Satraps; God’s Enemies; may speak against us, but the Son speaks for us!]

35 Who can separate us from the love of Christ? Can affliction or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written: Because of you we are being put to death all day long; we are counted as sheep to be slaughtered. 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

PSALM 37!





Scripture Verses

Daniel 6, 1 Peter 5:8-9, Luke 24:1-6, Romans 8:34-39, Matthew 27:19

Worship Set

Worship Playlist

You Make Me Brave
by Amanda Cook
as recorded by Bethel

Holy
by Phillip LaRue, Seth Condrey, Heath Balltzglier, and Kyle Lee
as recorded by North Point InsideOut

You Never Let Go
by Beth Redman and Matt Redman
as recorded by Matt Redman

What a Beautiful Name
by Ben Fielding and Brooke Ligertwood
as recorded by Hillsong

Study Questions


Read Daniel 6


1. Describe a time you experienced the hostility of a group of people around you. What was the reason for other people's hostility? How did they try to marginalize you?


2. Consider Daniel 6:1-5. This isn't the first time officials felt threatened by Jewish captives (see Daniel 3:8-12). What was the reason for their hostility?


3. Daniel's "excellent spirit" was readily observed by others (see 5:11-12, 6:3). Read Galatians 5:16-26. What kind of characteristics might people readily observe in the life of a believer?


4. Read John 3:16-21. Why are people so threatened by God's people?


5. How does the story in Daniel 6 foreshadow the exact circumstances in which Jesus would be crucified centuries later (i.e. What is similar about Daniel 6 and the circumstances of Jesus' crucifixion)? How did King Darius and Pilate share a similar dilemma?


6. See Daniel 6:10. How did Daniel respond to the unjust accusations? How does this foreshadow Christ's response to unjust suffering (see Luke 22:39-46, 1 Peter 2:21-25)?


7. The den of lions was essentially a hole in the ground, with a large stone rolled over top. How did this miracle vindicate Daniel? How does this foreshadow Christ's vindication and resurrection (Discuss 1 Timothy 3:16)?


8. What is God's promise to his people? (See Daniel 6:26-27, Romans 8:21-39).



KIDS:


1. Read Daniel 6: 3. How did Daniel compare to the other supervisors? Equal/better/worse? How do you think the supervisors felt?


2. The only thing the supervisors could do was attack Daniel's faith. Read Daniel 6:7. What kind of law did they say the King should make?


3. Daniel's faith put him in the lions' den. Read Daniel 6:22. Who did Daniel tell the king saved him from the lions? Daniel did not hide his faith. He was brave.


CHALLENGE: Sometimes we forget to give God the credit for the things He has done. As a family, each day this week tell each other one thing God did for you that day.





Apply It!

Resources

Lakeside Bookshelf

Below are some books to complement our Be Brave sermon series through the book of Daniel. Stop by the bookshelf in the lobby to browse or purchase. 

  • The Daniel Dilemma: How to Stand Firm & Love Well in a Culture of Compromise by Chris Hodges 
  • The Daniel Prayer: Prayer That Moves Heaven and Changes Nations by Anne Graham Lotz 
  • A Practical Guide to Culture: Helping the Next Generation Navigate Today's World by John Stonestreet & Brett Kunkle
Downloads & Resources