This blog post also happens to be from my sermon last week. I am sure to a certain degree this speaks to a required efficiency of my time, but in fairness it also speaks to the fact that I really enjoyed writing it and wanted to share it again.
Last week I spoke on Daniel 6- also referred to as Daniel in the lions den. Often this passage is used to prove that Daniel is a man of defiance. His ability to stand up against kings, his enemies and even death- is a clear indication that his faith drove him to be a rebel. Although I do agree his actions required a great deal of confidence, I believe his boldness is born from fierce obedience.
Daniel’s entire existence was filled with expectations. He faced societal expectations from a government (and culture) that required adherence to the kings wishes. He also had intense pressure to “be a team player” with his co-satraps and administrators. Daniel’s choices were not received well, and it was not an act of ignorance on his part. After many years in a highly volatile political setting, Daniel would have been very attuned to the social climate. He was well aware of the tension that surrounded him, and I have often pictured Daniel as praying about this very circumstance when he was caught and arrested.
Daniel also faced the expectation of loyalty. It seems that the relationship Daniel had with Darius (the king at this time) was one closer to friendship. The reaction Darius has when he realizes the results of his poorly thought rule, indicates one of great personal concern. I imagine Daniel also struggled with kindred feeling in friendship to act against the king's wishes.
These are the expectations Daniel struggles with that I think I relate to the most. The social pressures to comply and go along with is expected. I find it inspiring that Daniel faced not just these- very real and strong expectations- but also the pressure of conforming to law practices.
Darius creates an edict, that if anyone is caught praying to anyone other than himself, that person will be tossed into the lion’s den to suffer a barbaric death. This law cannot be reversed and has enormously damaging consequences Darius never intended. (As a side note- as a little girl I often thought it was far fetched for a leader to be so ridiculous. To have not thought out or possessed any foresight into the fact that this was a terrible idea- to impose an absolute rule, over a small matter with such dire consequence. Unfortunately, I now realize that although still ridiculous, perhaps it is not far fetched.)
The law is put into place and Daniel must face not only all the social pressure from before, but now a legal statute as well. The consequences of breaking this law, is not a fine, or community service, or even jail time. It is death. Daniel now also faces the pressure to survive, one of the strongest instincts that humans have. It is one that causes a host of chemical reactions in our brains and drives people to do extreme measures to ensure that it is followed.
But, as I said earlier, I am not convinced Daniel is such a defiant person that he is able to act against of these social expectations, legal pressure and even the drive to live. I think Daniel is very closely, loyally and obediently following something else. An obedience that gives him the boldness to go against all these things.
If we look at Daniel in the rest of the book it is clear he knows when to capitulate. From the time he is taken as a young man and enslaved in the Babylonian palace, through the rule or several ruthless kings and political overthrows, he is able endear himself to all those who are above him. I say endear, not as ingratiate or grovel. Daniel is not one for sucking up. Yet, he has clearly found a way to not just survive, but to highly succeed. He was in prominent positions, not just once, but repeatedly. He was obviously willing to swallow his pride- but he would not relent his obedience to God. Daniel is overtly obedient, he is just loyally obedient to God, above any other.
And it is not blind obedience, for no purpose than obedience itself. I suspect it is a means for survival from the numerous injustices he encountered. Because Daniel’s life was clearly unfair.
The thing I hear the most from people when they are going through a struggle- of any kind - is the disconnect between how things should be and how things are. Sometimes it is mere preferences- but often they are legitimate claims to unfairness. A distraction comes in trying to recreate or recapture what should have been. Instead of being lost to this distraction, Daniel clings to something constant, above the ebb and flow chaotic garbage that happens in his life.
God asks for faithfulness, not for the sake of compliance and obedience, but to provide stability in chaotic and unstable life. When God is the focus or guide, it creates an independence. No matter what expectations of unfair circumstances exist in our life, we can stand firmly and confidently with a source that is stable in all ways.
And I suggest that Daniel’s ability to stay boldly obedient to God speaks more to the greatness of God than to the greatness of Daniel . We see this just as Darius did when he proclaims at the end of the chapter:
“For he is the living God
and he endures forever;
his kingdom will not be destroyed,
his dominion will never end.
He rescues and he saves;
he performs signs and wonders
in the heavens and on the earth.
He has rescued Daniel
from the power of the lions.”
Meet the Pastor
Pastor Heather and her family have been a part of the Cold Lake Community since December 2006 and she has been the pastor at Community Baptist Church since September 2017.