The Faith of Daniel

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, March 25, 2018 0 comments

by Logan Ames

“The world is a very poor critic of my Christianity, but it is a very sufficient one of my conduct.” -Alexander Maclaren

In my Men’s Devotional Bible from Zondervan, a piece is written about “habits of holiness." It tells of a cigarette manufacturer years ago that invited people to take a 30-day test with their product. They relied on the idea that anyone who used their cigarettes for 30 days would develop a new habit and most likely become addicted to their specific brand. The writer goes on to remind us that the same is true with good habits such as flossing, exercising, eating healthy foods, doing devotions, watching our language, etc.

This got me thinking about the season of which we are in the middle right now. I’m talking about Lent. Some Christians have habits that display a lack of discipline for the rest of the year, then focus on making positive changes during this period. I’m not rejecting the notion that we ought to take advantage of every opportunity to motivate ourselves to make positive changes in our lives, but I do think that sometimes we put too much emphasis on our own human will. We think we can just put our minds to something and we’ll be able to accomplish it. If you chose to give up something for Lent this year, how are you doing with it so far? How committed have you been? Are you dying to get back to the fun and pleasure of the things you gave up? Or are you beginning to find it easier to live with the good habits because you’ve fully embraced them?

When it comes to the habits God wants us to have in our lives, we can’t just flip the switch in the moment of crisis. This week’s hero of the faith who is not mentioned by name in Hebrews 11 is Daniel, a man who certainly didn’t wait until the crisis came to practice good habits in his relationship with God. In Hebrews 11:33, we see that some of the ancient faithful ones “shut the mouths of lions." There were several other men to whom this phrase could apply, but writing about Daniel was an obvious choice for me. Here was a young man who had most likely witnessed the killing of his family members and many friends along with the destruction of his city when the Babylonians came and overtook Jerusalem. As if all that wasn’t enough, he very likely was made a eunuch once he was taken as a captive to Babylon because that was the case for most court officials and those who served the king. This is a level of devastation that most of us can’t even imagine and don’t want to. Yet, even in a foreign land as a captive, he continued to view his relationship with the Almighty God as one that would sustain him.

After many trials and some dream interpretation, Daniel is made one of the top three advisers to King Darius (Daniel 6:2). At this point, he is the definition of an overcomer, having already defied the odds to reach a level of prominence no one thought possible. But that kind of worldly success breeds jealousy from those around you. The officials, who were probably getting tired of hearing how amazing Daniel is from the king, decided they needed to find some way to accuse him. They tried and tried only to find that there were no skeletons in Daniel’s closet. I mean, stop and think about that. How long would it take someone to find a scandal or some other conduct or character issue if we told them to dig into the background of any politician? Probably about two minutes! When these people couldn’t find a legitimate reason to accuse Daniel, they decided to go ahead and create one. In Daniel 6:4-9, they convince King Darius to put a new decree into writing that stated that anyone who worshiped any god or human being except the king over a period of 30 days would be thrown into the lions’ den. In other words, they appealed to the king’s ego and it worked. These people did this knowing that Daniel prayed multiple times every day and likely wouldn’t stop.

They were right. Daniel 6:10 tells us that Daniel changed nothing even after he heard about the decree. He was at peace and it was settled in his mind that God was truly in control no matter what happened. That verse also tells us that Daniel opened his windows toward Jerusalem and prayed three times a day. He clearly wasn’t trying to hide it. He also got down on his knees, showing humility, and gave thanks to God, showing gratitude. The jealous ones immediately report him to King Darius and remind him that once a decree is in writing, it cannot be altered (vv. 12-15). We read that Darius tried everything he could to save Daniel, but ultimately was not willing to go against the law and against his own foolish word. When he ordered Daniel to be thrown into the den in verse 16, a very interesting thing happened. He said, “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you." This is the heart of the quote I placed at the beginning of this writing. People may not understand our “religion” or our God, but they certainly know how to recognize good and bad behavior in us. The jealous officials and the pagan King Darius all knew they could find no wrongdoing in Daniel’s life. Darius even acknowledged that Daniel “serves God continually." When those who are against our faith or don’t have our best interests in mind are still able to commend our conduct and recognize our commitment to God, we’re doing something right.

But Daniel was committed long before any of the crises came. He daily spent time in prayer before the Lord and kept his focus on God and his plan. As captive as Daniel was, he lived in more freedom than anyone else in this story. Daniel 6:18 tells us that Darius couldn’t eat, drink, or sleep for the whole night knowing Daniel was in the lions’ den. He knew he had made a dumb decision and he also knew Daniel was a good man that he didn’t want to lose.

You know the rest of the story. Daniel had a better night sleep than Darius! The lions didn’t touch him and Daniel gives credit to God for sending an angel to “shut the mouths of the lions” (Daniel 6:22). Daniel had started new habits in his life and kept them to the point where he couldn’t even imagine a life where he didn’t pray to God at least three times each day. When we start things God wants us to start, we can’t imagine how it will all be done. But once it has become a habit, we don’t even consider not doing it. Daniel’s heroic faith was on display for all to see. Verse 19 tells us that Darius rushed to the lions’ den as soon as he woke up to call out to Daniel to see if he was safe. That tells me that Darius, who didn’t even know God, practically expected Daniel to still be alive. He knew what God was capable of and actually believed there was a solid chance that God might save Daniel from Darius’ own hand. If he believed there was no way Daniel would survive it, then why would he rush to the den with anticipation?

Do you want to have the kind of faith that is THAT noticeable to those around you? Do you want to be so faithful that even those who have no faith practically expect God to work in, through, and for you? If so, begin your habits of spiritual discipline now. Stick with it until it becomes something you can’t live without. Read the Word, spend time in prayer, even fast when applicable. Remember that God is in control, and living a life that trusts him completely for results is the most peaceful and stress-free life you’ll ever find!

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