(Photo by Ben White on Unsplash)
He went home and knelt down as usual...
Daniel was someone that God could count on and is an example for us. He was a man of integrity and ability. Daniel was captured during the exile while he was a teenager and taken to Babylon. He remained faithful to God, and early on showed great potential. God strategically placed him in the Babylonian government where he proved himself as a leader while never wavering in his faith.
When Daniel was 85-90 years old, King Darius the Mede decided to divide the kingdom into 120 provinces. He chose 120 officers to rule over each territory, and three administrators to be in charge of the officers, one of whom was Daniel. When Daniel proved to be more capable than the other two administrators, the king made plans to place him over the entire empire. This plan upset the officers and other administrators, and they looked for ways to undermine Daniel. They began searching for some fault in the way he governed but came up empty-handed. So the men concluded they would have to make the king believe that Daniel was a threat to the kingdom because of the God he worshiped.
The administrators and officers went to the king and convinced him that not everyone was loyal to him and that he should make a law stating that any person who prayed to anyone other than the king in the next thirty days would be thrown into the den of lions. So King Darius put the decree in writing.
When Daniel learned about the new law, the Bible tells us he went home and knelt as usual in his upstairs room, with its windows opened toward Jerusalem. Daniel was in the habit of praying in this way three times every day. The administrators and officers saw him praying, as they knew they would, and went straight to the king. They reminded King Darius of the decree he had signed, and then told him about Daniel: "That man Daniel, one of the captives from Judah, is ignoring you and your law. He still prays to his God three times a day."
Darius was deeply troubled because he genuinely cared for Daniel. The king knew he had been tricked, and looked for a way to get out of the decree he had made. Eventually, though, he had to give the orders for Daniel to be arrested and thrown into the lions' den. The king hoped Daniel's God would rescue him. He spent the night fasting and didn't sleep at all. The next morning, Darius got up very early and rushed to the lion's den. He called out in anguish, "Daniel, servant of the living God! Was your God, whom you serve so faithfully, able to rescue you from the lions?"
We all know the story. God miraculously shut the mouths of the lions and Daniel was unharmed. I heard the story of one little girl who told her Sunday School teacher she knew the reason why Daniel wasn't eaten by the lions...because the Lion of the tribe of Judah was there with him in the lion's den.
Daniel's commitment was to God and not the outcome. He never wavered in his faith. When he found out about the new decree forcing everyone to worship and pray only to the king, Daniel could have decided it would be wise for him to quit praying for the next thirty days, or at least to shut his windows and pray in secret. If he had chosen either of these ways, he most likely wouldn't have had to face the lion's den, but neither would God have received the glory. King Darius wouldn't have known that God was able to rescue Daniel, and the people wouldn't have started worshiping the one true God. But Daniel didn't waver. He kept doing what he had always done. Therefore God did receive all the glory, and the king did see what God could do. And Darius did go on to make a new decree that everyone throughout the kingdom should only worship Daniel's God. The king himself praised God as the living God who endures forever, and rescues and saves His people; who performs miraculous signs and wonders, and rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.
Daniel knew he could count on God. He didn't know if God would spare his life, but he knew God was with him. God would give him the strength, comfort, and peace he needed. Daniel would not need to be afraid because he knew God was with him. His eyes were on God, not on the lions.
I'm not saying it's easy to live an uncompromised life like Daniel, but then again, God doesn't promise us an easy life. He promises to be with us (Deut 31:6), and give us what we need (Phil 4:19). Whether we need strength (Is 40:31), wisdom (Jms 1:5), peace (Jn 14:27), rest (Matt 11:28), direction (Prov 3:6) or hope (Rom 15:13), we can count on God. But our eyes have to be on Him, and not our situation. Continuing to pray openly wasn't a difficult decision for Daniel to make even in the face of arrest and possible death because he feared God more than he feared the king. We can have the same assurance that Daniel had because the God he worshiped is our God too! He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb 13:8).