Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Living in an Alien Culture: Daniel 6

Living in an Alien Culture
Daniel 6

“The story of Daniel in the lions’ den has captivated children over the
centuries, and rightly so.  It is a thrilling story with a strong moral
dimension—courage in the face of extreme danger, a remarkable
deliverance from wild animals, and the ultimate vindication of a
principled stand. Yet it is no fantasy.  And as we have seen, it is 
far from being only a story for children.  It is an analysis of 
the nature of law—its use and abuse.”[1]

Chapter 1[2]

Nebuchadnezzar reverently places God’s vessels
In his idol’s temple.

Daniel and others refuse to indulge in pagan impurities.

Court officials sympathetic.

Daniel and his colleagues’ physical and mental powers vindicated.

They are promoted to high office.
Chapter 6

Darius bans prayer to God for thirty days.

Daniel refuses to cease practicing the Jewish religion.

Court officials intrigue against him.

Daniel’s political loyalty to the king is vindicated.

He is restored to high office.

·     v. 1: Darius[3]

·     Daniel is much older now (maybe in his 70’s or 80’s): his is a life of faithfulness

o   v. 3: “possessed an extraordinary spirit”—Daniel must have been an amazing and competent man!

§ cf. Proverbs 22.29

·     v. 4: they could find no ground of accusation or corruption

o   he holds a position of power without corruption: difficult to do!

·     vv. 5-9: Collusion to bring down Daniel

o   Specific legislation designed to make Daniel a “law-breaker”

o   “came by agreement” (vv. 6, 11, 15)

·     v. 10: Daniel knew the document had been signed

o   Full awareness of law and its consequences

§ Disobeys the law so as to obey God’s law

·     Cf. Acts 4.18-20; Exodus 1.15-21

o   Public: Daniel’s spirituality is publicly known

§ Windows open

·     “Open toward Jerusalem”: see 1 Kings 8.47-50

“Daniel did as King Solomon suggested and prayed towards Jerusalem—a city we have not heard named since the beginning of the book.  Daniel lived in Babylon, and was faithful in the service of its rulers; but the secret of his integrity and faithfulness was that he did not live for Babylon.  He lived for another city, in the spirit of Abraham and the patriarchs who were looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God(Hebrews 11:10).  Daniel lived for all that Jerusalem stood for.  He knew that the future lay there and not in Babylon.”[4]

o   Hebrews 11.8-10, 13-16; 12.18-24; 13.11-14 (cf. Galatians 4.25-26)

§ Posture: on knees before the Lord[5]

o   Q: Is there enough evidence in your devotional life to “convict” you?

o   Q: Do you have a set time and place for prayer? Or is always on the way, in the car, in the shower, etc.?

·     “the law of the Medes and Persians”—vv. 8, 12, 15

o   Lex Rex: the law is king; the king must abide by the law

§ Development in the history of ideas for these pagan nations

·     Deuteronomy 17: Israel’s king was to write out the law
o   Applications:

§ Problem with Ballot Initiatives in Arizona: our elected officials cannot make changes to the law once put into effect

§ Problem with “legislating from the bench” in our courts

·     Roe v. Wade

·     Obergefell v. Hodges

·     v. 23: “no injury whatever was found on him, because he had trusted in his God”

o   Trust and faithfulness all the way to where it hurts and you lose everything

§ Daniel had reached the pinnacle of power in his old age and is thrown down into the lion’s den

·     v. 24: Daniel’s enemies destroyed by the lions

o   Those who live by the arbitrary power of the state, die by the arbitrary power of the state

§ If the state can arbitrarily create a law to hurt Daniel (vv. 6-9) then the state can arbitrarily put to death malicious accusers and their families (v. 24)

§ Psalm 7.15-16: “fallen into the hole which he has made”

·     Darius makes two decrees in chapter 6

o   (1) Self-serving and idolatrous: worship only me

o   (2) Praising the God of Daniel and encouraging service and praise to him (vv. 25-27)

·     What does Daniel 6 show us about Jesus?

o   Jesus protects his people: Romans 8.28-39; 1 Peter 5.8-11; Colossians 2.15; Hebrews 2.14-15

o   Daniel 2.23: “taken up out of the den…” and exalted

§ Jesus raised from the dead and exalted: Acts 2.22-36

o   Faithful witness: Revelation 1.5 (cf. 2.13 Antipas)

·     Exercise: Detail out some of the conceptual links and thematic overlap between Daniel 6 and 1 Peter 5.6-11.

     [1]John C. Lennox, Against the Flow: The Inspiration of Daniel in an Age of Relativism(Grand Rapids, Mich.: Monarch Books, 2015), 210.
     [2]Chart from John C. Lennox, Against the Flow: The Inspiration of Daniel in an Age of Relativism(Grand Rapids, Mich.: Monarch Books, 2015), 198.
     [3]See my paper “Reflections on the Accuracy of Daniel” for some brief comments on the identity of Darius—online: https://www.academia.edu/35244641/REFLECTIONS_ON_THE_ACCURACY_OF_DANIEL.
     [4]John C. Lennox, Against the Flow: The Inspiration of Daniel in an Age of Relativism(Grand Rapids, Mich.: Monarch Books, 2015), 203.
     [5]See my essay “Bodily Postures in the Worship Service” White Rose Review(April 12, 2013)—online: https://whiterosereview.blogspot.com/2013/04/bodily-postures-in-worship-service.html.