Today we are going to finish up chapter 6 of Daniel. This is the last chapter that we will really talk about Daniel’s experiences as a Stranger in a Strange Land. Chapters 7-12 are basically a collection of Daniel’s visions from God about the future including the “last days”, which I will talk about briefly week after next.

The primary purpose of this study has been to see how Daniel handled living in a culture that was foreign or strange to him in regard to culture and customs, and most importantly how it affected his relationship with God. As we have seen and will see in the conclusion of chapter 6 that Daniel’s relationship with God is unchanged.  He remains faithful despite his circumstances. He doesn’t abandon or dilute his convictions. They are still intact and his refusal to “defile” himself’ in Daniel 1:8 continues.

As we discovered last week in Daniel 6, there was a plot by the other “satraps” or governors, 120 in all appointed by Darius to rule over Persian provinces, to get rid of Daniel. Daniel and two other governors had been put in charge of the other 117. Darius was even thinking about putting Daniel in charge of his whole kingdom because of his “exceptional qualities”. Out of jealousy or not wanting a Hebrew to have that much power and influence, the governors set a trap for Daniel. Since they couldn’t find “grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs” (Daniel 6:4) and could find “no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent.”  (Daniel 6:4) They decided to use his faith against him.

5Finally 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 6:5 NIV

So, they cook up a plan that included a decree or law forbidding the worship of anything other than King Darius, who like the Babylonian kings was considered divine. To pull this off they had to get Darius to sign off on it, literally in writing, so that Darius couldn’t go back on his word later when Daniel violated the decree, which he did. Remember that Darius likes Daniel. He’s thinking of putting him in charge of his whole kingdom. The tricky part of the plot was to get Darius to approve the decree without him knowing that it would condemn Daniel to death.  Well, we know that the plot works because Daniel is eventually thrown into the lion’s den for violating the decree, and there is nothing Darius can do about it. Daniel knows about the decree or law, but it won’t stop him from praying to God even if it means death.

“10Now 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.” Daniel 6:10 NIV

Of course, the governors “catch him in the act”, and then run to the king with the news. “Hey big D. We caught Daniel praying to his God again. We know you like the guy, but he never listens to you, and this is proof. Oh, and remember you signed that decree, so you can’t let him off the hook. It’s time to feed the kitties!”

Darius says in verse 12, “The decree stands—in accordance with the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed.” Darius knows he can’t go back on his word. He may have signed the law, but he’s not happy about it.  Before he throws Daniel to the lion’s he tells Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!” Darius is not a believer, but he really likes and respects Daniel. Darius is so torn up about it that he can’t even sleep that night. The next morning, he rushes to the lion’s den and calls out to Daniel, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?” Daniel gives him a thumbs up. Well, not exactly, but he confirms that he’s okay, and Darius is thrilled. Daniel doesn’t even have a mark on Him. Then immediately after Daniel is released Darius turns the tables on the governor’s conspiracy against Daniel by not only feeding them to the lions, but their entire families as well. Ouch!

Chapter 6 ends with this: 25Then 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. 27He 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.” 28So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.” Daniel 6:25-28 NIV

Daniel, with God’s help of course, has done it again. His faithfulness to God and his exceptional qualities bring glory to God. Two empires, Babylonian, and Persian have seen the greatness of God. This is what God can do with a handful of faithful followers in a strange land.

12Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. 1 Peter 2:12 NIV

Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego lived such good lives among these two pagan cultures that the glory of God was revealed, and lives were transformed. As Christianity continues to decline in our culture, we may begin to feel like we’re strangers in a strange land, but if we remain faithful and undefiled by the culture around us, God’s glory can still be revealed, and lives can be transformed. We don’t have to be militant or obnoxious, just faithful.

While studying for this devotional and looking up characteristics or qualities of great leaders, I found a word that really stuck with me in relation to Daniel’s character. Daniel was “conscientious”, which means “wishing to do what is right, especially to do one’s work or duty well and thoroughly.” That’s one of the reasons he remained an influential leader, survived, and thrived in a foreign or strange land. He lived such a good life among the pagans that he couldn’t be accused of wrongdoing. His good deeds were seen, and God was glorified. He did what was right in the sight of God and his fellow man, and people noticed. People of high character stand out. They don’t have to yell, scream, point fingers, or resort to name calling. They are self-controlled, peaceful, joyful, loving, patient, gentle, and kind. They aren’t jealous or easily provoked. Do these qualities ring a bell? (Fruits of the Spirit-Galatians 5:22-25)

Earlier this week, this devotional wondered off track with a little rabbit trail about religion in the context of our study and current culture, but I felt that it deviated a little too far from Daniel 6, so I will save that for next week.

Have a great weekend! Love y’all!

Robby Morris – Director of Family Ministry and Facility Coordinator – Andrews UMC