Daily Theme: God can and will deliver and restore His people.
THE PRAYING PROPHET AND THE HUNGRY LIONS. a story from Daniel 6 & 9 Because of Daniel's faithful prayers for the restoration of his people (9:1f), Daniel is sent to the Lion's den for praying by King Darius who had been tricked into making an unfair law. But God shuts even the mouths of lions. He will deliver His people from all their enemies. For He has revealed to Daniel both the future and the time when Jesus would come.
Obj Lesson: He reveals deep and hidden things.
1. What motivated Daniel to this special time of prayer and fasting? (vs 2,3) (Cf Jeremiah 25:11-13, 29:10-14)
It has been nearly 70 years since Daniel was brought to Babylon. Daniel believes God will keep his promises. Babylon has fallen! Cyrus now rules. (See Isa 45: 1-6, 13) But are His people forgiven and ready to return?
2. What was Daniel's prime concern in this prayer?
Judah was carried off into captivity because of their sin. After all those years - many Jews are content and comfortable in Babylon. Some have turned to other gods. But some longed for the restoration of the temple and the rebuilding of Jerusalem. Some long for the Messiah who will sit on his throne. But before God will restore His people, they must confess and turn from their sins. (vs 13, 18) Without the temple was there a "sacrifice" that could remove their sins?
Through the 'books' Daniel had an intimate way of turning to God himself, of seeing His very face and experiencing His presence. "With the books open before him, his life is oriented towards the living God, and he is given the same confidence in prayer as he used to experience in the temple of Jerusalem." Ronald S. Wallace, The Message of Daniel (Inter-Varsity Press: Bible Speaks Today Series, 1979) p. 148.
"His prayer is what we call 'liturgical.' It is made up of a mosaic of phrases taken from all over the Books he had been studying and inevitably memorizing. Daniel's prayer language was dominated by what he found in the books." Wallace, p. 154
4. Why were some jealous of Daniel? Were there valid grounds to accuse him? (vs 3-5)
"Daniel was so unashamedly and avowedly godly that he was hated by his opponents. Before the eyes of everyone in Babylon he stood boldly and uncompromisingly for this Jerusalem, and for everything it had been built to signify in the service of God. His habit of daily prayer, which he hid from nobody (verse 10), showed to all sho knew him where he believed truth was to be found, and where he believed all men everywhere must look for their salvation." Wallace p. 106
5. What was the plot they hatched? What was it about Medo-persian law that bound even the Monarch?
Such was the perversity of their hearts, that having no valid reason for condemning Daniel, they had to manufacture an irrational trap, which violated basic human rights and was grossly unreasonable. In the same way, Jesus was betrayed, condemned and put to death. The whole process was unjust and fraudulent. If just one of the rulers Jesus had to face had stood up to the mob pressure, Jesus would have been spared the cross. But even Jesus remained silent - for that cross was the only way sinners such as they could be saved.
6. How did Daniel adjust his Bible reading and Prayer time to conform to the new law? How important is God's Word and Prayer?
For a lifetime, Daniel has devoted a regular time each day to spend with the Lord. Reading the Word. Praying. This personal fellowship with his God and King is more dear than life itself.
7. How did King Darius react when he was told of Daniel's prayers? Could he change the law?
The Lord is bound by an unchangeble law as well, based on His holiness. Sin must be punished, and the demands of the Law met. Apart from Christ, God's law must be carried out.
8. Describe in detail how the law was carried out.
Lions adorned the gates of Babylon and roamed the wilds of much of the land in those days. Kings hunted them for sport and kept them as pets. It was a savage means of execution.
9. What kind of night did the king have? What kind of night was it for Daniel? Why weren't the lions hungry?
Was his response one of guilt at being responsible for the death of an innocent man, or sorrow arising out of love and friendship and respect for Daniel? Do we percieve faith and hope in his words to the condemned man? Why at the first light of morning did he rush to the den? How long did the meaning of the miracle take to sink in?
10. What gave Darius reason to think Daniel would still be alive in the morning? What happened to the men who had accused Daniel? (cf Psa 141: 8-10 Gal 6:7)
In one sense, Daniel "pictures" the resurrection of Jesus. The stone was rolled away from the mouth of the lion's den. And Daniel emerged alive. The stone was rolled away from the tomb of Christ from within, for death could not hold Him.
11. What does Darius' decree declare about God's soveriegn power and rule?
In God's divine providential ordering of events, the lion's den experience protected Daniel and upheld him in his high office, until the work God had given to him would be completed.
14. If Artaxerxes' decree to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem was issued in 458 B.C. and the "sevens" are periods of seven years, how many years until the Anointed one ("Messiah" or "Christ") begins his ministry? (Vs 25) (Remember there was no 0 A.D.) What happens in the middle of the 70th "seven"? (Vs 27)
The answer to Daniel's prayer concern is that with the cutting off of the "anointed one" there would be no longer a need for sacrifice. Jesus died as the once-and-for-all-time sufficient sacrifice for the sins of all who have faith in Him.