Theme: Daniel was a devoted man of God through many circumstances and situations. He was taken captive from his homeland, faced multiple trials and situations, and yet still honored not only his God but also the kings he served. For example: In our main passage for the week Daniel has found himself thrown in the lion’s den. He faces this situation in a way that results in God being made known throughout the kingdom. As you read through Daniel this week I encourage you to evaluate Daniel’s relationship with God and how this points us to Christ.
(What do we learn from Daniel)
Daniel stood strong for the Lord because he had character. This is something that Daniel had been developing for years now (he was in his 80’s when he was in the lion’s den). Character wasn’t something he decided to have when times got tough, he had to craft it before the trial. We must remember “christian character isn’t forged in adversity, it’s revealed in it.” If we can’t honor God in the normal mundane parts of our life (prayer, reading scripture etc.) we will never be able to honor Him in the bold parts of life. Three things we see crafting this type of character in Daniel:
Faith: Daniel exercised his faith in many circumstances (ch. 2 King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream for starters). Faith is something that if had, will prompt a response out of someone. This means if I say I have faith, then that should dictate how I respond to things in my life. Daniel truly had faith because we see his life and actions prove it. (JAMES 2:17).
Prayer: This passage is clear that Daniel was a man of prayer. What I love most about his prayer is that it was consistent, predictable, and private. When Daniel heard the decree he didn’t change anything about his life. Because prayer was Daniel’s first response and not his last resort, the king’s decree wasn’t a crisis for Daniel, he simply continued on communing with God like normal. He was so predictable that the men who turned him in knew exactly where to find him. In the face of all of this Daniel never boasted. He went to the privacy of his home and worshipped, he wasn’t looking for the favor of men. Because a lack of prayer reveals pridefulness in our life, Daniel’s prayer life had consistently been removing pride and instilling humility.
Obedience: This is a simple yet profound point. Daniel knew that he wanted to be obedient to his God and step in that way. Obedience is a conscious decision that will have to be made daily for the Christian. This is difficult for people because it usually means that you have to die to yourself, turn away from instant gratification, and choose obedience.
(What do we learn from God)
God is faithful in all he says and does. This passage is such a great reminder of that for me. Look at:
God is faithful to be present with us in the trial. King Darius ask Daniel if his God was able to deliver him, and Daniel says nope only did He deliver me, but He was with me. The passage says He sent His angel and He shut the mouths of the lions. Look at Daniel 3 (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego). The king saw with his own eyes Christ walking with these men in the furnace. Many people feel like God should simply remove us from the trial we’re in, and when He doesn’t we wonder where God is. We mistake God’s silence for God’s absence. Psalm 145 is a good reminder that God is always near to those who call on Him. He will never leave us nor forsake us.
God will work out all things for our good and His Glory. In the stories mentioned above, we see God deliver these men, then work through the Kings to spread His glory throughout the kingdom. But let’s consider Stephen in Acts 6. Instead of being saved he was stoned to death. Was this for Stephens good? Well we see a vision of Christ standing at the right hand of the father as he is welcomed home. After all of this the church bursted out of Jerusalem and spread like wildfire. The world teaches us that it’s about our comfort and security. On the contrary, Jesus teaches that to find life we must lay ours down. We have to surrender what we think as our good for what God says is good for us. Like the men in the stories we don’t get to choose what is best, we simply get to be obedient and trust that God will always work for our good and His glory because the two go hand in hand.
(A picture of Christ)
Daniel is not the hero of the story Jesus is. Even though His name isn’t explicitly mentioned, there is a ton of imagery here of Jesus. Look at some similarities:
Both Daniel and Jesus represented innocence
Both had jealous political leaders drum up false charges in order to keep their power
Both had the primary judge on their behalf while the people turned on them
Both were thrown in a tomb that was sealed with the Kings signet to prove their situation couldn’t be changed
Both walked out of the tomb alive
Both emerged seated at the right hand of the king
Even with all of the similarities, there are two major differences:
Jesus was actually pierced by the lions (Psalm 22:21-22)
While Daniel eventually died, Jesus conquered death
This is the Gospel. Jesus was crushed by the lion’s to pay the price we owed a righteous God. If God is a good judge and must punish sin, and we are sinners who have sinned against God then we must pay the price. Fortunately for those who believe, Jesus took that on himself so we can live under His righteousness.
How has your week been spiritually? / What is God teaching you?
What sins are you struggling with that you need to confess?
How would someone else describe your “character”?
What are the rhythms in your life that are establishing Christian character?
What are the rhythms in your life that are establishing worldly passions?
Have you experienced a situation that has required you to be bold for Jesus? How did you respond?
What situation in your life led you to either feel God’s presence or wonder where he was?
How does God’s glory and your good relate to one another?
How has God used struggles for your good in the past?
What are your thoughts on the Gospel in this story?