Sunday 13th September
Daniel – Extreme courage in a crisis
This week we’re continuing our series in Daniel, exploring what is involved in being Jesus’ disciples today & to discuss practical ways of following Jesus more deeply in our own lives,
The readings will be from Daniel 5:13-30 and Daniel 6:1-28
Song: Now unto the King
Here’s a couple of dilemmas for you to think about:
You’ve just been shopping with your small son whose strapped in his pushchair. As you come out of the shop you notice he’s still holding onto the cakes he wanted to hold, but you haven’t paid for. Do you:
- Think it’s only cakes. No-one will notice, I’m not going back now
- Turn around to go back and pay but notice the queues are really long and you don’t really have time to queue
- Turn around and join the shortest queue and pay
You’ve been working with a colleague on an idea which will save your company a lot of money. You present the idea to your boss who likes the idea and rewards you with the job of implementing the improvements – a job which also comes with a pay rise. Your boss doesn’t know that it was your colleague who thought of the idea and did most of the work, but was unable to present the idea as his mother was very seriously ill and he had to travel to see her. Do you:
- Keep quiet. Accept the praise and the pay rise
- Tell your boss it was a joint idea but you did most of the work, and that your colleague wouldn’t want the extra responsibility anyway
- Tell your boss the truth and suggest they’d be better at the job anyway as it was their idea.
It’s hard isn’t it. Little things perhaps, but as we’ve been looking at Daniel – he lived a life where people couldn’t find a fault with what he was doing. He was high up, he had great responsibilities, and yet the people trying to trip him up couldn’t find anything wrong.
I wonder how many people as we look over our lives would be able to say they couldn’t find anything wrong?
Reading: Daniel 5:13-30 and Daniel 6:1-28
Video: How to survive a lion attack
Song: Who O Lord could save themselves
Discussion & questions
Daniel had a reputation as a man who followed God and had such integrity that people couldn’t find anything wrong with him. But as we see now he was facing a bit of a crisis – a major test of faith. He was probably around 80 years old. I’m no sure how many 80 year olds wanted to be thrown into a den of lions!
We see in this story that he didn’t stop! He escaped the teeth and claws of the lions! Why did it happen? So God could show He was the living God, that His kingdom wouldn’t be destroyed and His reign would never end.
As God’s people we’re called to show courage, that we trust God and follow Him no matter what. None of us have ever been thrown to the lions for not following the rulers of our day, but there are other ways that we are tested and persecuted.
Joel Belz wrote ‘Daniel set the standard for Christians who hold public office. He was serious about his work but he was even more serious about being known as a servant of God, and he was determined to follow God’s rules no matter what the cost. Our society could use a few more political leaders like Daniel’
The passage says that not only did Daniel possess an excellent spirit, but he was faithful and no error or fault could be found in him. The other officials were jealous and wanted to find a way to get rid of him. The only complaint they could find against him was that he followed God, so they had to find a way to trip him up relating to that. So the plot was to use his integrity against him, and manipulate the king into making a law he couldn’t change in order to trap Daniel. They didn’t want to see Daniel demoted, they wanted to get rid of him altogether. When Daniel was told the decree, he continued to obey God rather than men. He continued with his pattern of following God and spiritual devotion – just as he had done before. He didn’t do anything different – making it any more or less obvious – he just carried on what he’d always done, which must have been quite a trial for him.
We read that King Darius was very upset when he found out his own decree had trapped Daniel, as he’d never had any reasons to doubt him. So he tried everything he could to save him, but was unable to do anything. The king was upset and troubled. He spent the night worrying
Daniel knew that past faithfulness was no substitute for present faithfulness – the past had simply prepared him for the present. Everything he’d done in the past had got him ready for this moment of trial.
Tony Evans wrote, ‘How did Darius know about Daniels God? It was because Daniel had lived a life of integrity before everyone, and didn’t hide his witness. We don’t hear that Daniel went around preaching all the time. We just read that Daniel lived and worked in a way that people were aware that he was a follower of God.’
When Darius came to the den the next morning and called out to Daniel, he was overjoyed to hear his reply. Daniel was able to show at that point that he was trusting God and that He was God over all. We see that Darius issued a decree across the land that everyone was to fear and reverence Daniels God.
Daniel was honoured even more and prospered under the reign of Darius, even though he was an exile living in a foreign land. He still carried on following God and trusting Him completely.
Throughout the Bible, there is talk of a rescuer, a deliverer. First promised back in Genesis. We see events like the Passover point us to Jesus, and institutions like the temple and the sacrificial system. We see people like Adam, Abraham, Moses, David and Daniel point forward to the coming King.
It’s amazing that we can remember that God saved Jesus. God raised Him from the dead, and we can have courage that we follow the risen saviour. God showed his power to rescue Daniel from death, and we know that we can look back and see God has shown His power to save all His people from their sins and give them live through the death and resurrection of Jesus.
Some discussion questions to think about:
- What enabled Daniel to remain humble even though he was given extraordinary abilities and received special revelations from God?
- How do you think the jealousy of court officials might have affected Daniel?
- How could Daniel’s experience help you when you are criticised?
- How did Daniel demonstrate that he was a follower of God in his personal life and in his professional life?
- What do you think are the factors that help people to face extreme persecution and even death for Jesus’ sake?
Song: I will offer up my life
Song: You alone are worthy
Song: Jesus, beautiful Saviour