The reading Daniel 6:6-27
So the presidents and satraps conspired and came to the king and said to him, “O King Darius, live forever! All the presidents of the kingdom, the prefects and the satraps, the counselors and the governors are agreed that the king should establish an ordinance and enforce an interdict, that whoever prays to anyone, divine or human, for thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be thrown into a den of lions. Now, O king, establish the interdict and sign the document, so that it cannot be changed, according to the law of the Medes and the Persians, which cannot be revoked.” Therefore King Darius signed the document and interdict.
Although Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he continued to go to his house, which had windows in its upper room open toward Jerusalem, and to get down on his knees three times a day to pray to his God and praise him, just as he had done previously. The conspirators came and found Daniel praying and seeking mercy before his God. Then they approached the king and said concerning the interdict, “O king! Did you not sign an interdict, that anyone who prays to anyone, divine or human, within thirty days except to you, O king, shall be thrown into a den of lions?” The king answered, “The thing stands fast, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be revoked.” Then they responded to the king, “Daniel, one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, O king, or to the interdict you have signed, but he is saying his prayers three times a day.”
When the king heard the charge, he was very much distressed. He was determined to save Daniel, and until the sun went down he made every effort to rescue him. Then the conspirators came to the king and said to him, “Know, O king, that it is a law of the Medes and Persians that no interdict or ordinance that the king establishes can be changed.”
Then the king gave the command, and Daniel was brought and thrown into the den of lions. The king said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you faithfully serve, deliver you!” 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, so that nothing might be changed concerning Daniel. Then the king went to his palace and spent the night fasting; no food was brought to him, and sleep fled from him.
Then, at break of day, the king got up and hurried to the den of lions. When he came near the den where Daniel was, he cried out anxiously to Daniel, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God whom you faithfully serve been able to deliver you from the lions?” Daniel then said to the king, “O king, live forever! My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths so that they would not hurt me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no wrong.” 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.
The king gave a command, and those who had accused Daniel were brought and thrown into the den of lions—they, their children, and their wives. Before they reached the bottom of the den the lions overpowered them and broke all their bones in pieces.
Then King Dari.us wrote to all peoples and nations of every language throughout the whole world: “May you have abundant prosperity! I make a decree, that in all my royal dominion people should tremble and fear before the God of Daniel:
For he is the living God,
His kingdom shall never be destroyed,
and his dominion has no end.
He delivers and rescues,
he works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth;
for he has saved Daniel
from the power of the lions.”
We divided the reading into parts and had 4 readers. This story is popular with Sunday school. (we take out the nasty part about the king throwing Daniel’s accusers and their families in the pit) It allows for good coloring pages and a good lesson, God is with you when things are scary. This is however, my first time talking to adults about Daniel and lion’s den. Like several other readings over the past few months, I have never heard this story shared at Church during a Sunday worship
I wanted to talk about 3 things
1-How Daniel ends up in the pit: Daniel does his job well. He is an outsider, an exile from Judah. He has remarkable abilities to interpret dreams and to do government work. The other authorities get jealous and annoyed at the outsider showing them up and winning increasing favor with the king. They want to get rid of him but that is impossible since Daniel is very good at his work and has the king’s support. They go after him through his religious beliefs. This law was made to get rid of him
2- Where our lions dens are today. Today, Christians around the world will be excluded, tortured, or killed for practicing their beliefs or trying to share them (two things we are fully free to do here, let’s do more with that freedom). I invite you to find out about them on your own. (There are website like opendoors.org, and people you can talk to in the churches that share the space with us). Instead of sharing their stories, I wanted to talk about people who are in other lion’s dens, people surrounded by anxiety, poverty, addiction, abuse, violence and things they cannot overcome alone, people living in constant fear of collapse in the dens of unemployment, poverty, and sickness. Our work as God’s church to find, welcome and invite those who are suffering into the joy of knowing God is with them. Often times, this work can simply mean being open when they are ready to come in.
3- What this has to do with Advent. We are waiting for the time when God comes down to us, to the lion’s den of sin and suffering, God is born of as one us in a dirty stable, with no place else to go. God is in the lion’s den with us