Next Imperial Power

The rescue of Daniel from the ravenous lions demonstrated that Yahweh remained in firm control of history – Daniel 6:1-28

Persia - Photo by Stefano Vigorelli on Unsplash
After the overthrow of the Babylonian Empire, the new ruler of the province appointed Daniel as his chief officer over the other civil servants of that region. This caused resentment among other officials, so a conspiracy was hatched to destroy the prophet by trapping him with his own words, even ensnaring the unwitting king in the plot - [
Photo by Stefano Vigorelli on Unsplash].

Through the intervention of an angel, Daniel was delivered unscathed from the plot to kill him. Having survived the night in the lions’ den, the king ordered his release and the destruction of his accusers, then he issued a new edict commanding all citizens of Babylon to revere the wonder-working God of Daniel. As under the earlier Babylonian rulers, Daniel prospered under the “Medes and Persians.”

Darius the Mede” appointed him first among his three ministers of state. Certain provincial governors envied his elevation and sought to discredit Daniel. Had he not been a faithful servant of the previous Neo-Babylonian rĂ©gime? However, unable to find fault with his conduct, they arranged circumstances so that he would appear disloyal to Darius.
  • (Daniel 6:1-3) – “It was pleasing before Darius that he should set up over the kingdom a hundred and twenty satraps, that they should be over all the kingdom; and over these, three confidential ministers of whom Daniel was first, that to them these satraps should render an account, and the king not be suffering loss. Then this Daniel signalized himself above the ministers and the satraps, because a distinguished spirit was in him, and the king thought to set him up over all the kingdom. Then the ministers and the satraps began seeking to find occasion against Daniel in respect of the kingdom, but no occasion nor wickedness could they find, inasmuch as, faithful was he and neither error nor wickedness could be found against him.
A written edict was published prohibiting anyone from petitioning any other “god or man for thirty days” except Darius. This was incorporated into the “law of the Medes and Persians,” which once written could not be altered, not even by the king.

Nevertheless, Daniel continued to pray daily to Yahweh. His “seditious” conduct was reported to the king. Though aware of the new law, Daniel did not alter his daily routine. His accusers “found him making petition and supplication before his God” and reminded the king of the legal tradition that no law could be altered once written. Even a ruler as powerful as Darius was not above the “law of the Medes and Persians.”

The trap was set. His enemies accused him of disloyalty to the king. This distressed Darius greatly since he valued Daniel’s services, so he was “determined to save Daniel.” However, he was only able to postpone the execution for a few hours. Since the matter was out of his hands, he left it in the hands of the God of Daniel. Unlike Belshazzar, this king expressed respect for the God of the Jewish exiles and encouraged Daniel - (“Your God whom you serve will deliver you”).

Cast into the pit, it was sealed shut behind Daniel. The king passed the night in great anguish. Early the next morning, he hastened to see if Daniel remained alive and called out to him, “Is your God whom you serve able to deliver you from the lions?” Being very much alive, he answered the king. The angel had shut the mouths of the lions and they had done him no harm. He was “blameless” before God and the king.

After removing Daniel from the pit, the king had his accusers cast in instead, where they died a horrific death - (“The lions broke all their bones in pieces before they came to the bottom of the den”). The ferocity of the attack demonstrated that Daniel was NOT spared because the beasts were not hungry, and their immediate dispatch demonstrated the ravenous hunger of the lions. Daniel’s life was saved by divine intervention, and not by circumstances or any attempt by Darius to save him.

Daniel in the Lions Den
Daniel in the Lions Den

Next, Darius issued a decree to “
all the peoples, nations, and tongues that dwell in all the earth” to publicize how the “God of Daniel” had reversed the irreversible decree of the king. The salutation of Darius is virtually identical to the earlier one published by Nebuchadnezzar - (Daniel 4:1 - “Nebuchadnezzar to all people, nations, and tongues that dwell in all the earth”).

Previously, Darius had decreed that no man could petition anyone but him. However, now he summoned “all peoples, nations, and tongues…to tremble and fear before the God of Daniel.” The plot to exploit the “law of the Medes and Persians” and destroy Daniel had caused the demise of the very men who conspired against him.

The Aramaic word rendered “destroy” in verse 26 is the same one translated “destroy” in verse 22 - (“The lions have not destroyed me”). The usage echoes the declarations about the coming “kingdom of God” made years earlier in the interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. The miraculous deliverance from lions demonstrated that the kingdom of God “shall not be destroyed” regardless of the edicts of kings or the machinations of evil men - (Daniel 2:44).

Daniel prospered under the reigns of “Darius the Mede” and “Cyrus the Persian.” The first half of the book closes with the inauguration of the next World-Power, the kingdom of the “Medes and the Persians.” Geopolitical developments continued to prove that Yahweh gave sovereignty to whomever He pleased.

This story is related to the events recorded in chapter 3. In both stories, the Jewish exiles had aroused jealousy among the ruling class. In both accounts, plots were hatched to destroy them. In chapter 3, Daniel’s three friends were thrown into a fiery furnace when they refused to venerate the king’s golden image. In chapter 6, Daniel was cast to the lions when he transgressed the royal edict.

In both stories, the exiles violated the king’s edict because of their higher allegiance to Yahweh, and in both, they were miraculously delivered from death. Both stories concluded with the king issuing decrees to honor the God of Israel. Both incidents demonstrated that Yahweh was in full control of history. The rise and fall of empires and the welfare of His people were at His discretion.



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