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"Amillennialism 101" -- Audio and On-Line Resources
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"He Is the Living God" -- Daniel 6:1-28

The Twelfth in a Series of Sermons on the Book of Daniel

The sign on the door of the royal palace read “under new management.”  The Persians (Medes) have displaced the Babylonians (Chaldeans) as the occupiers and rulers of Babylon.  The Babylonian king, Belshazzar, is dead.  Darius the Mede (Cyrus) is now in charge, ruling as Persian king over the former Babylonian empire.  The Hebrew prophet, Daniel, now an old man, is immediately recognized by Darius as a wise and gifted man and an effective supervisor.  Daniel is given great authority as one of three “presidents” (counselors) to supervise the satraps (or regional governors), who handled the day to day affairs of local government.  It is a position of great honor, respect, and influence.  But Daniel’s appointment to such high office creates much jealousy among the Persians, and even perhaps among former Babylonian officials who were passed over for the prestigious job which instead went to a despised Hebrew.  A plot is soon hatched to remove Daniel from his new office, and it will not be long before Daniel finds himself forced to deny his faith in YHWH, or face being thrown to lions.  But God preserves his people in such a way as to unmistakably reveal himself to be the sovereign Lord of all–even to the Persian king Darius.

The story of “Daniel in the lion’s den” is one of the best known and most loved of all the so-called “Bible stories.”  This is a great story in its own right.  But to make full sense as to why this incident is included in Daniel’s prophecy, it must be considered in light of the larger redemptive-historical context, which is the victory of YHWH, his prophets, and his exiled people over the false “gods” of Babylon, and now Persia.  YHWH is sovereign over all kings and nations and is directing the events of which we have read throughout Daniel’s prophecy to his own ends.  Daniel’s trial and ordeal in the lion’s den in chapter 6 are part of YHWH’s larger sovereign plan to ensure that the Jewish exiles in Babylon will be allowed to return home to rebuild the city of Jerusalem and YHWH’s temple.  This comes about because YHWH moves Darius (Cyrus) to issue a decree to bring this to pass (recounted in the books of Ezra-Nehemiah).  But the one incident which seems to truly motivate Darius to release the exile Jews is when the Persian king sees first hand the power of God in rescuing his prophet Daniel from a pride of hungry lions.

There are obvious similarities between this chapter and Daniel 3, when Daniel’s three Hebrew friends (exiles just as he was, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) were cast into Nebuchadnezzar’s fiery furnace, only to be delivered by a mysterious fourth man–the angel of the Lord.  God’s exile people often find themselves being persecuted by pagan officials because of their faith in YHWH.  Faith in YHWH is seen as an offence against the pagan deities and those who worship them.  In Daniel 3, it was the demand to worship Nebuchadnezzar’s gold statue, while in chapter 6 is it a demand to stop worshiping YHWH according to his word–and instead devote all prayers to the emperor Darius.  Throughout most of church history these are pressures God’s people have faced–sometimes these pressures are subtle and easily avoided, while other times they are acute and a direct threat liberty and even life.  The latter is the case in both Daniel 3 and 6.  Once again, there are loud echoes from the Joseph story who was likewise thrown into a pit, rescued in an unexpected way, and yet prospered under the hand of God (Gen. 37:24; 39:23; 41:40).

To read the rest of this sermon:  Click Here

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