Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Whom Shall I Fear? Rescuing Daniel from the Children’s Books

by George Lawson
Of course you know about Daniel and the Lions’ Den.  Even if you didn’t grow up with a high-tech flannel graph presentation in your Sunday-School class, or use your creative genius to turn a paper lunch bag into a ferocious man-eating beast, you could rehearse the story in vivid detail.
But although we are familiar with Daniel’s rescue from the Lions’ den, he still seems to be trapped in children’s books, and is placed on the shelf between Mother Goose and Aesop’s fables.  The 6th chapter of Daniel is more than a bed-time story, and if I can be honest with you, for a long time I missed the main point.

• The main point of Daniel 6 is not Daniel’s example.
Was Daniel a great servant of God? Is he worthy of imitation?  Absolutely!  And there is nothing wrong with imitating the faith of faithful men.  That’s what we are instructed to do throughout Scripture (1 Corinthians 4:16, 11:1; Philippians 4:9).  We need to live lives worthy of imitation and find those who are worthy of imitating.  The author of Hebrews reminds us to be “imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises” (Hebrews 6:12).  That’s an application of Daniel 6, but it’s not the main point.

• The main point of Daniel 6 is not Daniel’s faith.
That’s another application that we can rightfully draw out of this great narrative and that is the aspect that is highlighted in Hebrews 11.  In that chapter, known as the hall of faith, we read of men “who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions” (Hebrews 11:33). Daniel is a model of strong and robust faith in God.  There is no question that we can learn to trust God from Daniel, but again that is not the main point.

• The main point of Daniel 6 is not Daniel’s courage.
The VeggieTales Daniel helps us answer the question, “Where’s God when I’m s-scared.”   Is Daniel an example of courage?  You better believe he is.  In Daniel 6:10,  after he learned about the king’s decree, his very first act was to pray.  If that’s not an iron will, I don’t know what is.

All of these are lessons that we can learn from Daniel 6, but if we miss the point at the end of the story we are missing the main point!  What was it that struck King Darius as he walked away from the lions’ den?  What words did Daniel record, as a fitting conclusion to this chapter? What are we supposed to take away from this narrative?  Listen to this…

“Then Darius the king wrote to all the peoples, nations, and men of every language who were living in all the land: “May your peace abound!  I make a decree that in all the dominion of my kingdom men are to fear and tremble before the God of Daniel…” (Daniel 6:25-26).

• The main point of Daniel 6 is Daniel’s God!
That’s the main point that Darius walked away from the den with, and that’s the main point that Daniel wants us to walk away from this chapter with.  The great impression on Darius was not Daniel’s example, Daniel’s faith or Daniel’s courage, but rather the sovereign God that Daniel served.   Do you fear and tremble before a sovereign God?  Is that what you usually think of when you think of Daniel and the Lions’ den?  I’m all for helping kids get a good night’s sleep, but let’s not be satisfied with answering the question “Where’s God when I’m afraid?”  Let’s ask the more important question, “Who’s afraid of my God?”

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