“The Gospel According to Daniel”
Lesson 7 – Reflecting Jesus
A few years ago I watched "The Bible" miniseries on the History Channel and was appalled by their take on the story of Daniel 3. Daniel was portrayed as a compromiser who begged his friends to kneel before the statue Nebuchadnezzar had raised in the plains of Dura.
Although the Bible did not say where Daniel was exactly in chapter 3, I believe he was either at the gate of the king (Daniel2:49) or sent off on a mission by Nebuchadnezzar. The Bible does not shy away from telling us the flaws or moral failures of people in the Bible as evidenced by the lives of Abraham, Moses, David, and Elijah, among others. Yet the Bible does not say anything negative about Daniel (Ezekiel 14:14).
Regardless of how you view Daniel in chapter 3, today we are going to study an incident that occurred in the later years of his life. Let's read Daniel chapter 6 together.
The story in Daniel chapter 6 starts off with a scheme by the governors and satraps under King Darius. They were jealous of Darius' intention to promote Daniel over them (Daniel 6:3). They were looking for ways to discredit Daniel's character or find fault with him, but they found nothing. They realized that the only way they can get something on Daniel was through his religious convictions (Daniel 6:4).
The governors and satraps appealed to the vanity of Darius and convinced him to sign a royal decree that no one in the kingdom could pray to any man or god except the king, or else they would be thrown into the lion's den.
Note that when Daniel heard that the royal decree was signed, he went to his room and opened his window and prayed in plain sight. Daniel could have kept the windows closed and prayed to God in secret. After all, didn't Jesus exhort his follower to pray in secret (Matthew 6:6)?
However, Daniel intentionally left that window open. He was not ashamed of who he was - a follower of God. He did not hide his faith from people nor did he try to push it upon them. Although leaving the window open was tantamount to signing his own death sentence, Daniel showed by his action that his relationship with God was the most important thing in his life.
Daniel chapter 6 is not only a story about the faith of Daniel, it is also a story of how his faith affected the lives of people around him. While the governors and satraps were attempting to use Daniel's faith against him, Darius was positively influenced by the faith of Daniel.
When Darius realized that he had been tricked by the governors and satraps, he worked to find a way to overturn his decree and save Daniel (Daniel 6:14). Darius encouraged Daniel with words of faith in God just before he was about to be thrown into the den of lions (Daniel 6:16). Darius fasted that evening and refused any entertainment to be brought before him (Daniel 6:18). The next morning, Darius rushed to the lion's den and calling out to Daniel, hoping for a miracle and acknowledging God as a living God who can deliver people from death.
Daniel answered Darius' lament and related to Darius how God sent an angel to shut the mouths of the lions and save Daniel's life. Darius ordered Daniel to be lifted up out of the lions' den and the treacherous governors and satraps with their families to be thrown in. Darius then wrote a decree glorifying God as supreme.
Friend, this story is a lesson to us that we need to live our lives in such a way that we reflect the life of Jesus Christ to others. Daniel lived such a life of integrity and faith that Darius, a heathen king, was able to learn of God and believe in Him. In the same way, we need to be faithful to God in even the smallest of things. Will you be willing to live your life in such a way that people see Jesus in you?