“When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously.” (Daniel 6:10)
You may recognize this verse as belonging to a familiar event narrated in the book of Daniel. If so, you probably identified it as the event that earned Daniel a seat in the lions’ den. Often times I have skimmed this passage and found myself awestruck by the boldness and courage of Daniel. After all, isn’t that the author’s intent in recording this event, to encourage us to show obedience to God even in the event of governmental opposition? I find that note, though it is true, to be the minor chord of a soloist that quickly fades as the orchestra fires up the major tune of steadfast faithfulness.
A brief reminder of the preceding verses will prove beneficial here. The Babylon kingdom, which had carried thousands of Jews away in exile, had fallen at the hands of Darius the Mede. Once Darius had established control, he set up a governing body consisting of: 120 governors that reported to 3 high officials “of whom Daniel was one” (V. 3) who reported to the king. As the Scripture records, Daniel quickly climbed the political ladder and was on the verge of presiding over the whole kingdom. Eventually envy stirred in the hearts of those standing on the rungs below so a plan was concocted to remove his political influence. Once the drawing board was pulled out, Daniel’s adversaries found themselves at wits end as they searched for a complaint against him. The conclusion of their sedition left them only one option; “We shall not find any ground for complaint against this Daniel unless we find it in connection with the law of his God” (V. 5). Simply put, Daniel’s adversaries found the only point of attack was to force Daniel to choose between his God and king Darius. After some deception was sprinkled in Daniel’s enemies succeeded in establishing a law that prohibited any petition unless it was to king Darius. After a presentation of this law to the king, Darius stamped his approval (V. 9) and Daniel found himself in quite the pickle. You know the rest of the story though: Daniel prayed to God, Daniel was thrown into the lions’ den, God delivered Daniel from the lions’ den, and Daniel’s adversaries took his place in the lions’ den.
As I skimmed the text this morning I focused on the familiar tune of obedience to God in the face of governmental oppression, and I almost missed the sound of the entire orchestra. Thankfully, five words opened my ears to hear the drumbeat of Scripture, “as he had done previously.” Is Daniel giving a spontaneous act of devotion to God in response to a corrupt political movement? If that were the case, then Daniel praying loudly on the public street corner would have thrown a greater political punch than the silent privacy of his bedroom. Daniel doesn’t appear to give a political response at all he just continues a habit. Do you know what Daniel’s habit was? It was steadfast consistent faithful prayer to the King of Kings. The point is that Daniel’s obedience was not spontaneous and it was not rooted in external political responses; nor was it affected by a political stimulus. The obedience of Daniel was rooted in steadfast faithfulness. Daniel simply continued to do what Daniel always did. What about you? Is your devotion to God externally rooted in defending political principles or internally rooted in steadfast faithfulness? Don’t just follow for political reasons, but follow Jesus faithfully and steadfastly.
Grace be with you,