Peninsula Community Church
February 12, 2017
Focusing on God in the Midst of Change
Daniel 6:16-24 Then the king commanded, and Daniel was brought and cast into the den of lions. The king declared to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, deliver you!” And a stone was brought and laid on the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet and with the signet of his lords, that nothing might be changed concerning Daniel…The king declared to Daniel, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?” Then Daniel said to the king, “O king, live forever! My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths, and they have not harmed me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no harm.” Then the king was exceedingly glad, and commanded that Daniel be taken up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no kind of harm was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.
As we often do, I believe that it is important for us to look at the back story for this passage in order to understand the details of the story of Daniel. Several things had transpired and changed from the time of the story of the three Hebrew children to the time of this story in Daniel 6. For one, several years had passed and two significant things had occurred. There was a new king in town and Daniel had grown from the teenager that was brought to Babylon to now being a full grown man in his 80’s or 90’s. In this story, we see there are four elements to this story that need our comment. These serve to teach us and guide us as we grow older and seek to do His will.
The first element is that Daniel adapted to unavoidable change. I do not know about you but I do not always like change because I tend to be a creature of habit and I like order but I have learned that change does come. I also know that we do not always expect change to happen. Change often catches us by surprise and can cause us to become unsettled. As we read this story, we find that during the time between the three Hebrew Children and Daniel there was a major change in the landscape of the kingdom in that the Babylonians were defeated by the Medes and Persians. The Medes and Persians were now in control. The positive was that it appeared that the Medes and Persians were more open to God as a whole than the Babylonians.
These changes teach us that change is inevitable and will occur. The problem is that most of us do not welcome change as it usually impacts us negatively and we often have to deal with the unknown that comes with change. We all face change and change effects us in many different ways but the constant is that we are all impacted by the changes we face. The best way to handle change is for us to recognize that no matter what comes our way God is still with us and He is still in control.
The second element was that Daniel did not allow his age to deter him from accomplishing God’s will. Daniel was now in his 80’s or 90’s. The issue here is not so much his age as it was more about the fact that Daniel did not rest on his laurels. He was continuing to invest his life into the ministry of others and he was ready to serve wherever God would lead him. Too often, we can begin to believe that once we reach a certain age or that we have accomplished certain goals that our life is over and done and there is no need to continue to give of ourselves.
Historically, there are more than enough examples of those did not begin to find their destiny until their elderly years. Michelangelo was still painting at 89. John Wesley preached with almost undiminished eloquence at 88. Thomas Edison was still inventing at 90 years old. Frank Lloyd Wright was developing some of his greatest designs at 90. Bernard Shaw was writing plays at 90. J.C. Penny was working strenuously at his desk at 95.
The point being made is that we can never discount our ability or our effectiveness just because we are getting older. We all have something to give and if we seek God we will find what that task will be. Here is the point to be made. Age can never be a prerequisite nor a deterrent to achievement. How do we prevent age from being a deterrent? We stay young in our spirit. We focus on what is needed and not what has been done. I was reminded of what a friend of ours in their early 80’s once said. They did not like senior citizen’s groups because he stated that every in the group was old. He was a young 80’s as he continued to play tennis and ride bikes. He kept his mind stimulated by always learning and developing his life. I can remember one of the things he did was to publish a book in his 70’s.
The third key element is that Daniel maintained his integrity which kept him grounded in God. In the opening verses of Daniel 6 we find that Darius was establishing his cabinet so to speak and one of those he chose was Daniel. The Scripture tells us that Daniel was distinguished above all the other high officials and satraps because he had an excellent spirit. In fact, he was so admired that Darius wanted to set him up over all of his kingdom. Listen to the words of Daniel 6:1-5. It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom 120 satraps, to be throughout the whole kingdom; and over them three high officials, of whom Daniel was one, to whom these satraps should give account, so that the king might suffer no loss. Then this Daniel became distinguished above all the other high officials and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him. And the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. Then the high officials and the satraps sought to find a ground for complaint against Daniel with regard to the kingdom, but they could find no ground for complaint or any fault, because he was faithful, and no error or fault was found in him. Then these men said, “We shall not find any ground for complaint against this Daniel unless we find it in connection with the law of his God.”
As often happens those around Daniel were jealous of this choice and so they started a campaign to prevent him from taking the role to which he was appointed. But as we see in the passage that we read the other leaders could not find anything to use against Daniel because he was faithful and no error or fault could be found in him. The only chink in his armor was the fact that he faithfully served God. It was on this point that they developed a scheme to destroy Daniel and his life. They basically set a trap for him because they knew that he would not compromise his life or his beliefs.
Once they realized this, they set their plan in motion. They went to King Darius to get him to sign a decree that would be legally binding. The decree would send anyone to the Lion’s Den if they made a petition to any god or man for thirty days except the king himself. There is no hint of a reason why Darius signed the decree, but he did. Let me just say here that when someone or a group comes to disparage another that may be a warning to their motivation. I remember when I was in Bible School there was an issue that needed to be addressed. A large group of people got together to bring the issue to the president of the school and I was voted to be the spokesperson for the group. The problem is that when we went before the President everyone else backed away and I was left on my own. That taught me a lesson. Be careful of the mob mentality when a group of people begin to complain or want to get us.
Once signed and enacted Daniel made a purposeful decision. He was well aware of the decree and the penalty that would be exacted if he were to pray to God but that did not stop him or deter him from doing just that. Notice what he did. He went to his chamber and opened his window to heaven and he prayed. His daily act of connection with God was not going to be deterred by a decree from man.
They now had him and they brought the news to Darius who was forced by his own decree to cast him into the lion’s den which brings us to the third element to this story. Daniel had an unshakable trust in God which delivered him the lion’s den. Daniel had an incredible faith and trust in God’s power to deliver him from the lions that were destined to devour him once he was in the den. As we see in the story we find that Daniel was cast into the lions den but listen to Darius’ own words. “May your God, whom you serve continually, deliver you!” I heard a saying this week that intrigued me. The statement was this, the aggressor has the advantage and the power. It is a military statement. The idea is that the aggressor is the one who starts the battle and with the act of surprise overcome the victim or the one that they battling. So we need to be the aggressor as we take on the enemy’s schemes. We know the enemy’s tactics and his ways so that we battle against him. God is always the aggressor for us. He knows what we need when we need it. He will come to aide and He will protect us.
So I ask you this morning how are you doing with change in your life. Has change overwhelmed you to the degree that you are depressed and stressed as a result. How is your integrity? Is your integrity being attacked? Are you being fought against? Are you facing great turmoil to the point that you feel broken and weary. There is hope. Daniel had the solution. He kept his eyes on God who he knew would deliver him. As a result he was delivered from the lions.
Listen to this song by Natalie Grant and meditate on the words. May it be your prayer.
For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/media.php?pageID=14
Copyright © 2017 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom