Daniel 6:1-28 (Part 4) – Being Christian When Being Christian Ain’t Cool!

Posted: June 14, 2016 in Book of Daniel

Daniel 6:1-28 (Part 4)

Daniel in the Lion’s Den

Right now, I think of brethren in the faith that live in predominantly Muslim countries or live in the countries the remain the final vestiges of the Marxist/communist movement of the 20th century (North Korea and China). I also think of brethren in the faith in any country where the Christian faith is a minor speck of the population such as in India that is predominantly Hindu. In the predominantly Muslim or in the communist countries, persecution to the extent that people are killed has happened and will happen. Imprisonment for long stretches can happen too. Being cut off from your family can happen in all of these societies. In Muslim countries, being a Christian can be economic and social suicide. You are taxed at two or three times the rate of the general population. You are ostracized from your family. And you might even be clandestinely murdered for your faith while the government turns a blind eye. In communist nations, Christians are often imprisoned for their refusal to renounce their faith. Christians have been known to disappear in the prisons that they are sent to. It is not pretty to be a Christian in a Muslim country or in a communist country.

 

Although India has been a place of tolerance for the minority speck that Christians are there, recently the popular movement that sees that the country is becoming “too Western” has caused problems for Christians there as well. This movement has gained so much momentum that it has won elections Since Christianity is seen as a Western religion, taxes have been imposed upon Christian missionaries and upon Christian properties and so on. The government has become increasing nationalist wanting to return the nation to its roots (same thing that happened in the Middle East in the 1970s). According to the web magazine, Christianity Today,

 

The Hindu nationalist ideology espoused by the ruling BJP party and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a right-wing combination of social movement and paramilitary group, has led to hostility toward Christians in some areas of India. Open Doors, a Christian persecution monitoring agency, has ranked India as 17th in its list of countries where Christians’ lives are most endangered. A recent report by the Catholic Secular Forum named Madhya Pradesh, a province in India, as the province of India where Christians experience the most violence.

 

Although many of us think of India as a benign and friendly nation to Christians. We do not think of acts of terror when it comes to Hinduism as we immediately, often, think of when we hear the word, Islam. However, it is happening in India now. Generally, it is an economic persecution but in some provinces as noted above it has become violent. When anyone goes to India on a mission trip now, we cannot walk in with our International Mission Board banners and badges and t-shirts. We have to quietly move into the country and help our fellow brethren survive in a place that is increasingly hostile toward them.

 

And, what of our country? There will be a day maybe within a generation or in a generation or two that the intolerance of Christians in the age of tolerance will reach its peak and our nation will become one where having faith in Jesus Christ will be a liability to us. It always starts as a social stigma. Then, it becomes an economic one, then it becomes violent. Each step of the way, it becomes easier to write Christians off as unworthy of our time and that the country would be better off without them. It has happened before. It is happening now in other parts of the world. It will happen again in the future, the Bible promises us that. The future does not sound like a pretty place for Christians – even in the United States, the last great home for the Christian faith. Until the Father in heaven sees feet to send His Son to return to earth and bring an end to all of this, we can expect increasing persecution of Christ’s followers around the world. Are we ready for that?

 

It was that idea of being persecuted and how Daniel handled it was what came to mind today. Not only was he locked up in a prison dungeon but it was a dungeon full of hungry, ill-mannered lions. Again we read Daniel 6:1-28 once more, but today we will pay particular attention to vv. 17-23:

 

6 [a]It pleased Darius to appoint 120 satraps to rule throughout the kingdom, 2 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. 3 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. 4 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. 5 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.”

 

6 So these administrators and satraps went as a group to the king and said: “May King Darius live forever! 7 The royal administrators, prefects, satraps, advisers and governors have all agreed that the king should issue an edict and enforce the decree that anyone who prays to any god or human being during the next thirty days, except to you, Your Majesty, shall be thrown into the lions’ den. 8 Now, Your Majesty, issue the decree and put it in writing so that it cannot be altered—in accordance with the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed.” 9 So King Darius put the decree in writing.

 

10 Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. 11 Then these men went as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help. 12 So they went to the king

and spoke to him about his royal decree: “Did you not publish a decree that during the next thirty days anyone who prays to any god or human being except to you, Your Majesty, would be thrown into the lions’ den?”

 

The king answered, “The decree stands—in accordance with the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed.”

 

13 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.” 14 When the king heard this, he was greatly distressed; he was determined to rescue Daniel and made every effort until sundown to save him.

 

15 Then the men went as a group to King Darius and said to him, “Remember, Your Majesty, that according to the law of the Medes and Persians no decree or edict that the king issues can be changed.”

 

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 serve continually, rescue you!”

 

17 A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the rings of his nobles, so that Daniel’s situation might not be changed. 18 Then the king returned to his palace and spent the night without eating and without any entertainment being brought to him. And he could not sleep.

 

19 At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den. 20 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?”

 

21 Daniel answered, “May the king live forever! 22 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.”

 

23 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.

 

24 At the king’s command, the men who had falsely accused Daniel were brought in and thrown into the lions’ den, along with their wives and children. And before they reached the floor of the den, the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones.

 

25 Then King Darius wrote to all the nations and peoples of every language in all the earth:

 

“May you prosper greatly!

 

26 “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.

27

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.”

 

28 So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus[b] the Persian.

 

 

Here, in the verses that we are concentrating on this morning, what is not said is as amazing as what is. We do not hear any words from Daniel. In these verses, where Daniel is convicted of worshiping God and placed in the lion’s den, we hear nothing from him. Daniel apparently accepted his punishment for being a God follower. He was going to honor his God no matter what the cost was to him. And there was apparently a peace about that to him since there is no mention of his reaction. He was willing to lay down his life for his belief in God. And there was peace about it. No caving in. No throwing God under the bus. Just peaceful acceptance that if God wanted him to die that this moment was as good as any.

 

Are you and I willing to die for our faith? I know we all say yes right now. But if you felt your life was threatened for being a Christian – which happens all over the world now – what would you do? Would you stick to your faith? Would I? Even if it is only a social stigma? Even if it is only a economic sanction such a high tax or exclusion from certain kinds of business activity? Would you and I stick to our guns as being Christ followers? If there was decree that public displays of worship were no longer legal, would you still stand up and go to your church on Sunday morning knowing full well that you would be arrested if you did? What would you do? What would I do? Let us treasure the freedoms that we do have still in our country and consider ourselves blessed that we can still worship Jesus Christ. Let us remember how precious our freedom to worship Him is. Let us not take it for granted. Lord, help us though in these times where we are still free to steel ourselves for the day that we may have to make a choice between freedom and belief. It may not happen to us but it may happen to our children or our children’s children. Let us remember though Daniel! He would not give up his faith no matter what. He stood tall in his trust in the Lord. Being a Christian in the future will be increasingly less profitable to us here in our own country. Let us see our faith as that which sustains us and makes us whole and makes us who we are in the sight of God almighty. Let us see God as the first priority in our life. Let us never give up Jesus Christ even in the face of danger. Let us have the faith and trust in the Lord that Daniel had.

 

Amen and Amen.

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