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Daniel in the Lions' Den

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
April 21, 2023 4:00 am

Daniel in the Lions' Den

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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April 21, 2023 4:00 am

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I believe that if you see one thread through the book of Daniel, it is not the exaltation than in something you've read or heard on TV. When someone has to face a tough crowd, they're often said to be heading into the lion's den. Well, if you never knew where that phrase, being in the lion's den, came from, you'll understand as you study along on this edition of Grace to You. John MacArthur will focus on the commitment that a man named Daniel had to the Lord and how even in the face of death, he demonstrated qualities that God wants you and me to have. Qualities that bear witness to an uncompromising life.

To the lesson now, here is John MacArthur. We're looking at Daniel chapter 6, the famous chapter in which we find Daniel in and out of the lion's den. I want some key words to take us through this text. The first one is promotion. Promotion. And that deals with verses 1 to 3.

God allowed Darius to recognize the capability of Daniel and to put him in a very strategic place, a place of influence. Second word. The first is promotion.

The second is plot. Verses 4 to 9. There was a group of them that made a plot.

Not all of them agreed, but just stacking up all of those individuals, just intimidated. And they all consulted, they said, to establish a royal statute and make a firm decree that whosoever shall ask a petition of any god or man for 30 days except of the old king shall be cast into the den of lions. Verse 9, he signed the writing and the decree. Now there was a law. You make a petition of any god but this god and you go to the lion's den.

So we see the promotion and the plot. There's a third word. Perseverance, verse 10. Perseverance. Now the word got back to Daniel and I want you to know what he did. Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house and his windows being opened in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his god as he did previously.

I like that. Then these men assembled and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his god. You know what I see here is perseverance. They made a law and Daniel went back to his room and did what he did every day, a pattern established originally by David apparently. In Psalm 55, morning, noon, and night fell on his knees to pray. Now you say, well, couldn't have Daniel been a little discreet? Couldn't he just close the window and pray the same way?

Yes. Couldn't he have just cooled it for 30 days and talked to the Lord standing up and walking around and it wouldn't have been as visible? Yes, but any compromise at all would have been read as self-serving and it wasn't in his character to do that. And so perseverance, what a truly virtuous and godly man. And then there's another key word that takes us through the text and that's the word prosecution, verse 12, and now the plot thickens. Then they came near and spoke before the king concerning the king's decree. They had spied out Daniel.

They saw what he did. I'm sure that they went in the morning and they saw that deal right away. Maybe they saw it at the noontime.

That's probably more likely. They came in and got the decree going in the morning. They went there to Daniel's place at noon to watch him do it. They just saw the one time and they ran back to the king and they spoke concerning the decree. Hast thou not signed a decree that every man that shall ask a petition of any god or man within 30 days except of thee, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions? Now they put the monkey on the king's back. The king answered and said, The thing is true according to the law of the Medes and Persians which altereth not. That's right. Then answered they and said before the king, That Daniel who is of the children of the captivity of Judah... And they forever throwing that at Daniel.

That foreigner, that prisoner, that captive, not even to the right stock. He regardeth not thee, O king. Was that true?

That wasn't true, was it? Daniel was a loyal and faithful servant as long as it never caused him to violate his principles. He regarded the king in the way a king should be regarded. As our Lord said, he rendered to Caesar what was Caesar's.

And he says he doesn't regard the decree that you have signed but makes his petition three times a day. Now I know they didn't hang around a whole day to see it all three times. They just saw one and that was the assumption that he was doing it and it was a correct assumption. And so they confront the king. He started out as king for a month, God for a month and wound up as a fool in one day. What a fool! What a stupid thing to do!

Unthinking. And you know who he was angry at? He's a wise man himself. He was angry at himself. Verse 14, then the king when he heard these words was very much displeased with himself. And I like this, he set his heart on Daniel to deliver him and he labored till the going down of the sun to deliver him. Let's assume the thing was signed in the morning. They hustled out to see what Daniel would do at noon.

Daniel was there praying. They ran back and told the king and now he had all afternoon because execution according to their custom was to come before nightfall. And so he had all afternoon and he exhausted every legal means possible.

He went every way. That's the implication of verse 14. He set his heart on Daniel to deliver him and he labored till the going down of the sun. Now I don't know what he did, but maybe he tried to find a loophole in the law. Or maybe he tried to find something in past Medo-Persian law that could undo this thing.

But technically there was no way out. And you know what I love about this? Daniel never says a word. Daniel never takes up his own cause. Daniel never defends himself. Like Christ, he is dumb before his shearers and opens not his mouth.

You see, he had such confidence in God through all these years that he would just commit himself to God. There was no defense, right? There was no defense. What could he say except, it's right, I was praying and I'll just keep on praying.

There was nothing to say. So the promotion, the plot, the perseverance, the prosecution, another key word comes in verse 16. That's the word penalty. Verse 15 says, Then these men assembled unto the king and said unto the king, Know, O king, that the law of the Medes and the Persians is, that no decree nor statute which the king establishth may be changed.

You're stuck with it. Then the king commanded and they brought Daniel and cast him into the den of lions. Now these are real lions, folks, real lions, lions that were purposely starved to be used as executioners. And I don't know how many there were in there, but there wasn't just a couple. I've seen pictures where there were two or three lions. No, I don't know how many, but there must have been an awful lot of lions because when you get to the end of the chapter and everything starts coming down on the heads of the people who made the plot, they throw all of them in there and they throw all our families in together and they get eaten up before they hit the ground. A lot of lions in there. One commentator said, Well, there were only a few and Daniel found a corner and hid.

No, no, no. It was a big place, right? And he found a corner and he hid in the straw or whatever.

No. Lots of lions and they were lions like you think of lions. And so a stone was brought and laid on the mouth of the den. It's most likely a cave in the side of a hill and on the lower place where the entrance was they would have a stone to cover it. And then on the top of the hill there was a hole with a grate over it. The reason we believe that is the word den is literally the word gob in Aramaic which is related to the Hebrew word goob which means pit. And so it was a pit.

That's basically the idea. Gob in Hebrew means to dig. And so here you have a sort of an underground pit with a side entrance where they could sort of through that natural cave entrance bring the lions in and out or do whatever they needed to do to feed them. And then this top entrance where the whole deal could be viewed as the people who were to be executed were executed. Now you'll notice that it says in verse 16, "...the king spoke and said to Daniel, Thy God whom thou servest continually, He will...what?...deliver thee."

Now where did he get that idea? Listen, you know enough about Daniel to know that if Daniel had been hanging around for a year at least by now and perhaps two, that Darius had heard message after message after message about God. And you will also know that the history of what Daniel had seen God do in the past would be known to him and that's perhaps one of the reasons he appointed him to the place he did. It would seem apparent to me that Daniel would be one who would make manifest what he believed. And so I'm sure the message was very clear about the power of Daniel's God who had delivered him. I'm sure this man knew well the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, but they had been delivered from the fiery furnace and so he knew that this God could do it. And this is great because this shows that Daniel's evangelistic effort is having some result. So the stone was brought, it was sealed with the signet of the king and the signet of his lords.

Neither one could break that seal. The purpose might not be changed concerning Daniel. Now all of this leads to another key word, preservation, verse 18. Then the king went to his palace.

You know, the Holy Spirit is so subtle about things. You'd think that you'd want to go right to the lion's den, right? I mean, if I was watching a film, for example, and the film came to the climax where they took Daniel and they threw him into the lion's den and then they cut to the king's palace, I'd go, you know, I don't want to see the king's palace. Take me back to the lion's den. I want to see what's going on in the lion's den. Cut to the palace. Never says anything about the lion's den. Nothing. And the king passed the night fasting.

Who cares, right? What happened in the lion's den? King passed the night fasting and neither were instruments of music, one text says.

Actually, the Aramaic word is diversions. It could be music, women, dancers, whatever they used to divert the king. But he didn't want any of that.

No music, no dancers, no food, no nothing. His sleep went from him and he just paced around and he arose very early and went in haste. By the way, the very early in the morning means literally at the brightness of the dawning. As soon as the sun was visible, he was gone and he went in haste and most commentators feel he was probably around 62 or 63 years old, so he was hustling for his age. Hustled down to the den of lions, the crack of dawn to try to see what's going on. Now this indicates that he had some faith, doesn't it? And the God of Daniel, verse 20, And when he came to the den, he cried with a lamentable voice, a sad sorrowing voice, a voice of anguish, a voice of anxiety. And he cried unto Daniel, you know, hoping for the best but perhaps believing the worst. Daniel, oh Daniel, servant of the living God. Now where do you think he learned that? Where do you think he learned that statement, servant of the living God? I'll tell you where he learned it, from Daniel. Daniel had given him many lessons. Servant of the living God, is thy God whom thou serveth continually able to deliver thee from the lions? Frankly, it's a little late for that question. Is he?

Now we're at the crux of the matter, aren't we? Was God able? Well, verse 21, Then said Daniel unto the king, O king, live forever. You've got to have those amenities in there when you talk to a king.

You just can't say, I'm fine. You have to say, O king, live forever. Then verse 22, My God hath sent His angel and hath shut the lions' mouths. And by the way, that's got to be extended to mean that he sort of took care of their paws, too, because they could have ripped him to shreds. God sent an angel. Now angels are powerful. One angel took care of 185,000 Assyrians and slew them all by himself.

So one angel would be plenty. My God sent His angel and He shut the lions' mouths. And they have not hurt me. For as much as before Him, innocence was found in me. That's not proud.

That's true. And also, O king, before you I've done no hurt either. Just to get the record straight, isn't it interesting he defends himself only after he has given God the opportunity to put him through the test? He will put his life in God's hands in a lion's den. It's as if he was saying, Now God, I don't understand why I'm going to that lion's den, but maybe you have a reason. Maybe you know something in my life that isn't right and this is part of it. And only after God delivered him could he say, I haven't done anything, I'm innocent.

How do you know you're innocent? Because God had a perfect chance to chase at me and didn't do it. He waits for God to evaluate that. Well, verse 23 says, Then was the king exceedingly glad for him, and he commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den.

Now that's again an indication that it was a pit, probably dropped some ropes, and that nearly 90-year-old guy grabbed onto the ropes and up he came. He was taken out of the den and no manner of hurt was found upon him because he believed in his God. Daniel's writing the sixth chapter and Daniel is saying it was a vindication of his great faith in God. He believed God and God honored his faith. Now you want to know something?

It doesn't always happen that way, does it? Isaiah believed God too, but he got sawn in half. Paul believed God too and he laid his head on a block and an axe head flashed in the sun and severed it from his body. Peter believed in God and he got crucified upside down. Believing in God doesn't mean that the lions aren't going to eat you.

There have been martyrs throughout all the history of God's dealing with men that have believed God and they've died. The issue is that we accept God's will. If it is to live, it is to live.

If it is to die, it is to die. But in either case, we're never defeated. In fact, if Daniel had been eaten by lions, he would have been in the presence of God, right? Which would have been better than looking up at Darius and saying, Oh King, live forever. We couldn't lose.

We never lose. If he had been torn to shreds, that angel that came would have carried him into the presence of the Lord in Abraham's bosom. Now all of this is followed by another key word, the word punishment. Verse 24, And the king commanded, and they brought the men who had accused Daniel, the portion of the satraps, the princes, the presidents that had accused him, and they cast them in the den of lions, them their children and their wives. And the lions had the mastery of them and broke all their bones in pieces before they came to the bottom of the den.

Amazing! There must have been a tremendous amount of lions. And people say, Well, you know, Daniel didn't get eaten because the lions weren't hungry. They were hungry. They were hungry enough to eat this huge group of people. Some have even suggested that Daniel didn't get eaten because the lions were old. And they were like Clarence, you know, the cross-eyed lion. It's amazing what liberal commentators try to do to the Bible. But the point of this text here is to show you they weren't old and toothless.

They weren't filled up. They were hungry. And they were so ferocious, they shredded those people before they ever hit the ground. God did a miracle, a horrifying scene, the picture of retribution and vengeance of God. By the way, it's a very interesting glimpse of pagan law. The law of the Medes and the Persians said, On account of the guilt of one, all his kindred must perish. That was the law of the Medes and Persians. And so they did.

We see the promotion, the plot, perseverance, prosecution, penalty, preservation, punishment. Two more key words, proclamation. Verse 25, then King Darius wrote unto all people, nations and languages. You remember that little trilogy is used many times in the book of Daniel which just encompasses all the people in the realm. And he wrote, All that dwell on the earth, at least the earth as he perceived it, peace be multiplied to you. I make a decree that in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble in fear before the God of Daniel.

Isn't that great? One man. And he literally affects the entire empire. Now the whole Medo-Persian empire has fallen under the decree to tremble in fear before the God of Daniel.

It doesn't take a lot of people, it just takes the right kind. For he is the living God and steadfast forever and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed and his dominion shall be even unto the end. He sounds like the psalmist and he's a pagan king. Boy, God has put on some convincing demonstrations in this book, hasn't He? Nations come and go and whether they be Babylonian or Medo-Persian, when God puts His men in the right place, His message gets through. He delivereth, verse 27, and rescueth and He worketh signs and wonders in heaven and in earth who hath delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.

Let me ask you a simple question. Who gets the glory in the chapter? Daniel? Not Daniel. Not Daniel for a minute. Daniel was just there, that's all. God got the glory.

I believe that if you see one thread through the book of Daniel, it is not the exaltation of Daniel, it is the majesty of God who stands against the nations of the world and upholds His sovereignty. Finally, the prosperity. So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, even in the reign of Cyrus the Persian.

He prospered. Now I want you to listen to me. As I close, I want to sum up very rapidly in just a couple of minutes.

Listen. As we look at this chapter, what do we see about Daniel? You remember when we studied chapter 1 and 2? We took all of the characteristics of the virtue of Daniel as a young man and we catalogued them and we studied them and we saw what makes a virtuous, godly man.

Well here we are twenty...well no, sixty, seventy years later. What do we see in him again? What are the elements of character that we can translate to ourselves? What makes a man able to affect a nation? What makes a man or a woman have an impact that is as far-reaching as an empire? What is it in Daniel? Let me suggest some things.

I'm going to run them down, just listen to them, think them through. First of all, this man transcended history. He was great and he was useful to God because he transcended history. He got his feet out of the muck of human issues.

He sought the kingdom of God. Secondly, he lived a consistent life from start to finish. He was virtuous when he was young and so he was virtuous when he was old. And I really believe that there is no way to measure with a human measure the power of a virtuous life of that many years.

The tragedy is that most of us find our virtue coming and going through those years, not Daniel. What are the lessons we learn about a man of God? He transcends history. He lives a consistent life from youth to old age.

This makes for great usefulness in his old age. Thirdly, he utterly fulfills his calling. In other words, he lives in the absolute center of God's will.

His only desire is that God's will be fulfilled. Fourth, he has a right attitude. They kept saying about him he has an excellent spirit.

He has an excellent spirit. Fifth, he will be envied and he will be hated by the world around him, but he will never be bittered by it. Sixth, he is condemned but if he is condemned, he is condemned for his righteousness for there's no other flaw. He is as an elder of the church should be...what?

Blameless. Seventh, he is known for his virtue and integrity even by his enemies. Eighth, he is a faithful citizen.

He is subject to human laws until they would cause him to violate the laws of God. Nine, he is willing to face any consequence within the framework of God's will and leave the outcome to God. Ten, he will serve faithfully no matter what it costs him personally.

Eleven, he never defends himself. He leaves that to God. Twelve, he strengthens the faith of others, giving them hope in God. Didn't you see this in the king?

I mean, the king was even believing because of the great faith of Daniel. Thirteen, he is delivered from all harm and he is preserved for every purpose within the will of God. Fourteen, he is a vehicle for God's glory.

I wish we could just preach on that. We as Christians are to be above all things a vehicle for God's glory. Fifteen, he will be avenged by God. He will be avenged by God. His enemies will be dealt with by God.

He doesn't have to deal with them himself. And finally, he is exalted by those around him as well as by the one above him. Principles manifest in this chapter that show the virtuous life of a man of God.

That's John MacArthur, Chancellor of the Masters University and Seminary, here on Grace to You. Today's lesson showed you how to live an uncompromising life. John, to help encourage us in really pursuing that uncompromising life that you've been looking at these past few weeks, maybe you could touch on the impact a person who refuses to compromise can have. What difference can a person make in the world when he chooses God over anything and everything else? Well, let's flip it over and ask the opposite question. What impact does a person who says he has convictions have if he abandons those convictions when there's pressure?

Answer, zero. In the end, persecution is the ultimate test. Persecution is the ultimate test of our testimony, of our faith, of our profession of Christ. If it doesn't hold up in persecution, then to the watching world, even to the persecutors, it is invalid.

It is an empty profession. So, back to the question the way you posed it. When a person chooses God, chooses Christ, chooses the gospel, chooses scripture, chooses truth over everything else, this has a powerful influence, a powerful effect. I mean, look at the effect of the history of the martyrs on all of us. We read the stories of people being burned at the stake who would not deny Christ, of people being martyred, fed to the lions, starting with the apostles and going all through church history, even into the very present day. Christians are dying all over the world because they will not reject the truth. So, in the end, persecution is the test.

You know, this is so important because persecution is coming like it never has in this country. And we have just finished studying what it means to live an uncompromising life in the case of Daniel. It's a great series, and I'm sure that most of you by far have not heard it all.

You need to. It's available on six CDs or six MP3 downloads, exclusively from Grace To You. Look for the series An Uncompromising Life. That's right, and friend, if you really want to dig deep into Daniel's uncompromising life, you'll benefit from John's brand-new study guide on this series. With rich detail and helpful questions, it will show you how to stand firm for God amidst all the world's temptations. To order the study guide, titled An Uncompromising Life, contact us today. You can call our toll-free number, 855-GRACE, or you can order from our website, gty.org.

In the study guide, An Uncompromising Life, you will see how to fight discouragement, how to trust God when you're tempted to doubt his promises, and how to make use of the spiritual resources God has given you. To get your copy or several copies for your small group, call 800-55-GRACE or go to our website, gty.org. And if you'd like to download the messages from John's series An Uncompromising Life, go to gty.org. That's our website, and there you can download the MP3s from any of John's series that you might have heard on the radio, as well as hundreds of lessons that we haven't put on the radio yet. In fact, all of John's sermons from 54 years of his pulpit ministry, all of them, are free to download in audio and transcript format at gty.org. The website is also the place to find and purchase John's books, including his New Testament commentaries, the MacArthur Study Bible, and much, much more. Our website again, gty.org. Now for John MacArthur, I'm Phil Johnson, encouraging you to be here next week when John begins a series on Genesis 1 titled The Battle for the Beginning. It's another 30 minutes of unleashing God's truth one verse at a time on Grace To You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-21 05:26:35 / 2023-04-21 05:37:46 / 11

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