Belief and action in Daniel (February 18, 2024)

In today’s culture and political climate, we are often faced with moral and ethical dilemmas that challenge our faith. How do we stand against the powers that be? Naomi McQuiller reflects.

Outlook Standard Lesson for February 18, 2024
Scripture Passage and Lesson Focus: Daniel 6:10-11, 14, 16, 19-23, 26-27

Have you ever encountered someone who you feel is out to get you? Someone who follows you around, looking for a mistake to point out? In some cases, when they can’t find anything, they make it up! This person, or people, may also try to pit others against you.

Last week, we spent time thinking about King Nebuchadnezzar and the faith he developed as a result of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego standing firm in their beliefs. For this week, we’ll dive into another well-known Bible story – Daniel and the lions’ den. Throughout the story, Daniel finds favor with King Darius. However, this wasn’t the case with the administrators and satraps (provincial governors in the Persian empire). They were determined to see Daniel fail, to the point of attempting to arrange a looming death.

Faith in the face of lions

After they heard that Daniel was set to see over the entire realm, the administrators and satraps were filled with jealousy and contempt, looking for a way to prevent Daniel from gaining more power in the kingdom. These men were determined to find fault with Daniel, a Jewish prophet. When none could be found, they turned his faith against him.

Despite their efforts, Daniel didn’t stop petitioning to his God at home. Daniel was faithful to God in the face of the prospect of death. He knew what he was doing and that it was a risky move. The Enduring Word commentary says this of Daniel 6: “Daniel was confronted with a test of loyalties. He was a loyal subject of his king, yet he knew that the King of Kings deserved a higher loyalty. Daniel refused to give to the government the measure of obedience that belonged to God alone.”

Even though he was a pagan king, Darius encouraged Daniel to evoke the name of his God for deliverance from the mouths of the lions. Birthed from Daniel’s trust in God, Darius declared his own faith that the God that Daniel continually served would deliver him. And God did, much to Darius’s delight! It can be assumed that in the den, Daniel was continually praying, as was custom for him – with the lions or not.

In a major plot twist, Daniel’s accusers, as well as their wives and children, were cast into the den of lions and devoured. Not quite what they were expecting, I suppose. King Darius then proclaimed and issued a decree to all peoples, nations, and languages, honoring the God of Daniel. Despite King Darius being on his side, Daniel’s faith is what saved him from death at the mouths of the lions.

Belief and action

I think that it’s important for us to consider why the lions attacked Daniel’s accusers but not Daniel. The fact that they perished in the same way that Daniel was supposed to points to divine intervention and protection over him. This makes me think about times that I have seen this – not only throughout the Bible, but in my life and the lives of others.

The fact that Daniel didn’t hesitate to stand firm in his belief in God is a testament to his faith. Because of his faith in God, Daniel defied the King’s unjust decree, risking his own life in the process. His faith persevered amid a political attack that was intended to take his life and prevent him from being appointed to a higher position in the kingdom.

In today’s culture and political climate, we are often faced with moral and ethical dilemmas that challenge our faith. I know this has been true for me! However, we have the opportunity to stand against the powers that be. Daniel’s actions in the Scripture this week provide us with an example of how to seek justice and endure situations where the laws or rulings conflict with personal convictions.

This makes me wonder – what would it take for us to intentionally consider the “why” behind our social, religious, and political convictions? One way I have tried to do this is through personal reflection. Examples include journaling and prayer walks, thinking about why I care about this and what it means to me. Another option is speaking with a trusted friend or mentor who has similar values and morals to yours. By doing this, we have the opportunity to defy unjust practices and structures in our society.

Questions for reflection

  1. Think of a time when your faith sustained you through what seemed like an impossible situation. What motivated you to keep your hope?
  2. King Darius’s belief in the “living God” (verses 25-28) is a direct result of Daniel’s steadfastness in prayer. What spiritual practice would others point out about you that influenced them?

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