Sermon delivered October 12, 1996

By Pastor Donald J. Gettys

McDonald Road SDA Church

Daniel--Cold, Old, Bold!

Last time we left Daniel, he was in a Catch 22 Situation because Congress has passed a national prayer law. Either the King would have to change his mind and eradicate the law or Daniel would have to change his mind and not pray to God for the next 30 days. The lions were waiting.

The Lion is the king of the beasts, but Darius was not the king of human beings, he was a weak man. Trapped by his own signature. He had signed a law. Of course famous code of Hammurabi legislated that once a judge had pronounced his verdict the judge did not possess the power to reverse the verdict. The king's enemies were shrewd lawyers and they got together. Darius worked till sundown to find a loophole, but he couldn't do it. This so-called "god for a month" (Darius) was a stooge for a day. He couldn't change the law. The Persian king was god on earth. He made a pronouncement, and gods don't are infallible. His word was infallible and unchangeable.

THE LIONS WERE WAITING FOR SUPPER.

Ancient kings collected lions like some folk collect baseball cards. Darius thought- I am the king of the world, I should master the king of the beasts! I might as well master everything. So a lot of kings in olden times had a dungeon or den where they could go and watch the lions and feed them with people or their enemies. So, Darius had a dungeon. The dungeon was a square or rectangular type pit in the ground, lined with rocks. These lions were in there. A wall of masonry divided the area in half. The keeper could open the gate in that wall from up above and throw food in the other half. The lions immediately changed sides (It is amazing what food will do....Adam and Eve changed sides over appetite) - whereupon the keeper closed the gate, and lowered himself into the pit on the empty side and do his cleaning and then get out and be safe. That's the type of den that they had.

I want you to go to Daniel 6 in your Bible, and I want us to read several verses about this amazing experience. Let's begin with verse 16; "So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw (lowered) him into the lion's den. The king said to Daniel, 'May your God whom you serve continually, rescue you'". That is so easy to say to the other fellow when you are standing on safe ground and he is down there in a den of trouble. That's easy to say, "Well, the Lord bless you. You're fighting a cancer, you're struggling with this situation or that situation. God bless you." That's easy to say when you're standing over here. There would have already been claw marks if it had been up to me. All over Darius from me hanging on to him to keep me from being lowered down into that den.

Darius gave Daniel a complement here. He said, "May your God whom you serve CONTINUALLY..." Isn't that a great compliment? Wouldn't you like to have that said about you? "Don Gettys serves God continually." What a compliment! What a testimony that he paid to Daniel! Keep in mind that if we continually serve God like Daniel did, that God will continually serve us. He does, anyway.

Look at verse 17-- "A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the rings of his nobles, so that Daniel's situation might not be changed. 18. Then the king returned to his palace and spent the night without eating and without any entertainment being brought in to him. And he could not sleep."

Daniel's religion got him into a den of trouble. This pit could be secured by covering the hole with a large stone or grate so that the lions were sealed in. Daniel was sealed, sealed in with carnivorous animals. Imagine being 85 years old and just as it starts to get dark you are taken off to a lion's den. You can hear them roaring. They're dragging you, forcing you, taking you to this den of lions, you know what's going to happen. Here it is, getting dark. I'll tell you, the last place I ant to be when it gets dark is to be near some big, wild, hungry animals. Can you just picture that? I don't like to be in the dark woods if I think there is a big animal out there that might get me. Just imagine being there. These 500 pound lions, hungry lions, and Daniel is going to be down there with them. It just makes you shudder to think about it. I wouldn't want to be there.

It must have been a long hard night for Daniel. Old folks don't stand the cold very well, or the damp. That's what dungeons are famous for. It is hard enough to sleep with someone who SNORES, just imagine trying it with several who ROAR! That's what Daniel had to contend with. And Darius didn't sleep either. No entertainment. He truly cared for Daniel. He loved Daniel. Daniel was his friend. And yet he couldn't help his friend and worried all night for his friend.

I want you to notice something that runs contrary to what many of my fellow preachers preach. Notice that God did not prevent Daniel's enemies from casting him into the lion's den. So often I hear from the pulpit that if you serve God, if you pay your tithe, if you give your offerings, if you come to church, if you pray, if you read the Bible, if you give your heart to the Lord and are a Christian nothing bad will happen to you. You'll never get divorced, everything will be just fine. That's not the case. Somehow we think that the green bean patch of the Christian will never get bugs, no worms, no Japanese beetles as long as he attends church and gives his offerings. But look at Daniel.

God did not prevent his servant from being thrown into the den of lions. But down there in that den, Daniel was not alone! God was with His servant! And you can depend on God. God sent His angel. An angel of light came from heaven into that den. This dazzling angel lighted up that evil darkness. It was bright down in that den. There was light streaming up out from the grates a cracks like a powerful search light into the skies. God was down there with His servant and God will be with you in your trials and deepest troubles.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had been tested in early youth, but Daniel's supreme test was in his old frail years. His three friends endured the fire for only a few moments. Daniel's endured the lion's den on and on all during the long hours of a dark cold night, alone. Daniel's three friends had each other. And who did Daniel have? So this was a severe test.

Notice verse 19-- "At the first light of dawn the king got up and hurried to the lions' den." He didn't even wait until the sun came up. He didn't sleep all night anyway, so when it began to get just a little bit light, he rushed down to the lions' den. He rushed over to the grate that provided fresh air for those big animals in the den. Red eyed, tired, anxious Darius yelled out: "Daniel, has your God been able to rescue you???" There was probably a moment of silence while the king anxiously waited for a response. Finally Daniel said: (verse 21)-- "O king live forever!" Daniel did not need to say that. Just a grunt would have done. Any sound that Daniel was alive, that he was there would have been enough!

Verse 22. Daniel explains it:-- "My God sent his angel and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me because I was innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, O king!"

You know, here they are having a casual conversation like as if they were standing leisurely on the street corner! I want you to know that if the king came to the entrance to the den with a rope ladder tucked under his arm, I would get out first and talk later! Daniel is not afraid!

Verse 23-- "The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had TRUSTED in HIS God!" No band-aids were needed. Why? Because Daniel trusted in HIS God. His God... That's personal, isn't it? He didn't trust in just some god out there: he trusted in HIS God. The king was overjoyed. Daniel's God is a saving God. Dear Friend, trust in God.

If God can save Daniel from lions, He can save you from sin. He can save you from alcohol. He can save you from foul language. God can save you from a bad temper. He can save you from tobacco. He can save you from whatever it is.

Daniel's lions looked terrific, but their mouths were shut. Remember Pilgrim's Progress, John Bunyan's lions were chained. got up close to them, they were chained. And I think so often, spiritual evils often vanish when they are boldly faced! James 4:7 Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Trust in God, He loves you.

Well, the soldiers rolled the stone away from Daniel's "Tomb" and Daniel was resurrected unharmed. Like Jesus, not a bone was broken. Do you know what took the appetite away from those Lions? Hebrews 11:33 says-- "Who through faith conquered kingdoms....who shut the mouths of lions..." You know, there is a lot of power in faith. " It was Faith that stopped the mouths of lions.

Daniel had faith, and just like Jesus, Daniel was innocent. Innocent, kind-hearted Daniel just stood there before the King smiling and happy. Daniel did not even ask for revenge to get even with his enemies. He left that with God. He didn't seek revenge. And neither will Christians.

His enemies probably accused Darius of filling the lions with food and it was on that account the lions had not desired to harm Daniel. Those lions were hungry to start with. "Now wonder they didn't eat him. You fed them. You tampered with the situation." Now, there is one fairly sure way to see if an animal is actually hungry. give them some food. And Darius said, "We'll find out if they're hungry or not."

Notice DANIEL 6:24-- "At the king's command the men who had falsely accused Daniel were brought in and thrown into the lions den, along with their wives and children. And before they reached the floor of the den, the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones." Were they hungry? Sort of sounds like it. Claws and teeth served as knives and forks as the lions demonstrated their hunger! The gods of these evil men were unable to deliver them.

I have a Question: Would this still be a good story if the lions had eaten Daniel? Would we be preaching about this story today? I'd say, "YES!" Because the real point here is not the deliverance that God provided to Daniel that night. That's not the real point. Even if the Lions had eaten Daniel for supper, Daniel would still have been the winner. Let me tell you why.

God did not deliver Abel from Cain. God did not deliver John the Baptist. God did not deliver Stephen. God did not even deliver Jesus Himself. But they were all winners. They were all victorious. Those Christians who place God first and honor Him above all other things may suffer and die, they may go bankrupt or suffer divorce, but they are the winners, if God is their God. You win if the God of the Universe is your God.

God always ultimately delivers His children. You may face some severe losses in this alien wicked world, but like Daniel, you will eventually be a winner. Deliverance will come. Sometimes now, sometimes later, but always God's people will win. God is looking for modern Daniel's who will maintain their integrity regardless of what happens.

You know, we live in a lion's cage. We face an old cunning hungry lion: I Peter 5:8,9-- "Be self-controlled, be alert, your enemy, the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers out in the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings."

With Jesus Christ as our best friend, we like Daniel will be a winner. What I want to be sure you get in this story is: That if you have God on your side, it doesn't matter what happens to you, you stay with God and you're going through. You may suffer here, you may die here, but you're going to be a winner with God. Don't give up on God. I wonder what really happened that night there in that awful den of lions? Wouldn't you be interested to know what happened?

  Daniel stood in the lions den but he wasn't the least afraid,
  For God had closed the lions' mouths, He heard when Daniel prayed.  
  But I think he heard the lions growl from mouths that God had closed tight, 
  For they looked at him with their hungry eyes 
                       but they weren't allowed to bite.  

  All night long they paced the den on their great big feet, 
  for they were starved and the food was there, 
                            but they weren't allowed to eat.  
  The saliva dripped from their hungry mouths 
                            and their stomachs hurt all night, 
  They looked at him with their hungry eyes 
                       but they weren't allowed to bite.  

  Daniel prayed in the lions den, he prayed the whole night through.  
  And just as soon as it was light the king came down there too.  
  And Daniel cried- "an angel bright closed the lions mouths last night."     
  They looked at me with their hungry eyes 
                       but they weren't allowed to bite.

  The king was glad and the king rejoiced, when he heard what Daniel said.    
  He ordered all those wicked men to be thrown in the den instead.  
  The Lions leaped and the lions roared.  And it was an awful sight 
  for God had opened the lions mouths 
                       and they were allowed to bite.

  The Bible says that the time will come when I'll stand in the loins den.    
  This world will be the den I'm in, and the loins will all be men.  
  And they will try to destroy the children of God, 
                       they will hunt for them day and night.  
  They will look at me with their hungry eyes, 
                       but they won't be allowed to bite. 

The lions did not eat Daniel, and I'll tell you why they did not eat Daniel: It was because he was ALL Backbone! That night he was cold and old but he was Bold for God! Daniel was not in the Lions' den. The lions were in Daniel's den. In the presence of God there is safety.

Several years ago during the trouble between the Turks and the Armenians, some Turkish ruffians demanded of some Americans their life because they were Christians and would not go back on their belief in Jesus Christ. They were brutally murdered. Finally all the men and women were killed. Then the evil men came to the little girl of the Americans. They asked: "Will you give up Jesus or shall we throw you in to the hungry dogs?" The little girl said. "I love Jesus." Ruthlessly her tormentors threw the child into a pen of hungry savage wild dogs and shut the door and left her there.

The next morning they returned but they couldn't believe their eyes. At one end of the pen the little girl was on her knees praying to Jesus. In front of her was a large, savage brute standing guard over the little girl. When one of the other starving dogs came too near the big dog snarled and kept all those other dogs away that would molest that girl. Those rough men cried out, "There is a God!! God himself must be in there. And that God is the God of this little girl" (In Step with Jesus, page 230).

Daniel 6:28 "So Daniel prospered during the reign of Cyrus the Persian". Old 85 year Daniel passed the ultimate test and this senior statesman basked in God's rich blessings through all the days of his life. We do not know how old Daniel was when his last days came, but I am sure he never forgot that night with the Lions. The score that night was the LIONS- Zero. The ANGELS- One! True prosperity comes when we totally surrender all to God's will.

I think God spoke to those big powerful lions that night. He whispered a commandment into the ears of those savage, ravenous, and carnivorous beasts. God's angel said: "One of my old friends, Daniel, is coming down to spend the night with you. Receive him cordially and be hospitable. Make him comfortable. Hurt not a hair of his head. Lay down your shaggy mane that he may use it as a pillow. Purr so he will not feel alone and keep him warm all the night through. (Criswell)

Friends,
   Have faith in God---
       His guardian angels near;
   Have faith in God---
       To guide, and guard, and cheer;
   Have faith in God---
       For this life now and here.
   Have faith, dear friend, in God. (HMR) 

Scripture Reading: Psalm 91:9-16



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