Every setback is a setup for a comeback! When things are not going well in our lives we face a huge dilemma and temptation. The dilemma is do you trust God or do you not trust God. 5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. 7 Be not wise in your own eyes; (Proverbs 3:5-7). When we are in a tight spot, totally discouraged and feel like we are going to lose we panic and sometimes by taking control of the situation we do things we know we shouldn’t do.
The most difficult part of practicing the principles of Proverbs 3 is to stay on that path. There are times in life when you get off the path because you made some wrong choices. Then there are those times when life just took a turn you never expected and never saw coming. Daniel never saw coming what happened to him.
How many of you would like to be taken captive by your national enemies and forced to live in their land and their culture. How many of you would prefer to move away from all the people and culture you have ever known to live the rest of your life away from your home and family? As part of the entire nation of Israel Daniel and some of his friends were taken as prisoners and slaves by the Babylonians.
Babylon was the very personification of evil in that day. So much so that if something was considered evil in Biblical days, they would say it is “Babylon like.” Babylon was the word picture for evil. Their ruler, Nebuchadnezzar raided God’s temple and put the holy things on display in his demonic temple. When it came to culture, astrology and the occult were the government sponsored religion and core curriculum in the schools.
Daniel is probably about 16 years old when he is kidnapped and enslaved in a foreign and pagan country. He gets to Babylon and they even change his name. The name Daniel means “God is my judge” but the name they gave him, Belteshazzar means “Baal’s prince.” In one name change they have attempted to change him from a young man who honors and worships God to someone who honors and worships satan. But that didn’t work. Daniel was like, “You can change my name if you want to and I will even study these books if you would like for me to. But I can’t eat this food you are wanting to give me from the king.”
Daniel stood strong and remained faithful to God and His calling on his life. Daniel was able to thrive in a godless society. Daniel was able to maintain his godliness and integrity the entire time. How was he able to stand strong, remain faithful, thrive and maintain godliness and integrity. Daniel stayed optimistic being a slave in a pagan country. Given his situation and circumstances you might be wondering how he could do that? The answer is, he knew who wins! He knew that with God He was on the winning team. He knew that in the end we win! Daniel knew from the prophecies that God gave about bringing them back that he would win. Daniel being a godly guy in the midst of a nation that didn’t honor God held onto his optimism in the middle of all that. For us today, if you are fretting about what is happening in the culture, remember . . . we win!
It’s like watching your favorite sports team being really behind in the last few minutes. You are so passionate about your team and you get really worked up, worried, angry, upset, etc. You are beside yourself. Then they begin this miraculous comeback and win the game. You have gone from extreme anger and anxiety to extreme exhilaration in a matter of seconds. Let’s say you have DVR’d that game and you go back and watch it later. You get to the last few minutes where they are so far behind. Do you still worry or anxious? No and why? You know who wins. When you read the end of the story, you know that in the end Christ-followers win!
Fast forward to when he is thrown into the lion’s den. At the time of the lion story Daniel was most likely in his 80’s or 90’s – without much hope that he would ever get to return to his homeland. Still, in the midst of these less than ideal circumstances he shines.
Daniel has lived through a couple different kings in this foreign land and he continued throughout each king’s reign to prove himself and give strong testimony to God. 3 Then this Daniel became distinguished above all the other high officials and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him. And the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. (Daniel 6:3). This excellent spirit within Daniel was nothing more, nothing less than God shining through him. Daniel was faithful and God was honored by that.
Here he was a foreigner and the king was going to put him over the entire kingdom. The locals didn’t like that one little bit. They despised the fact that a foreigner would rule over them. They were so jealous and hated him so much they would do whatever it took to get rid of him. Do you see a common thread between all of our people in this series. David, Joseph and now Daniel did nothing to earn this. Jealousy and hatred caused all of it! It wasn’t on his “bucket list” and it wasn’t in his job description. He was just living the way he knew he was supposed to live. When you are an underdog and even before you find yourself as an underdog it is important to . . . Stay faithful to God. This brought both a blessing and a curse.
Has this ever happened to you? Daniel always gave the kingdom its allotted time. Even when you do the right thing the right way and live the way you are supposed to, people get jealous and start pushing you out. They scheme against you, gossip about you, leave you out, etc. 4 Then the high officials and the satraps sought to find a ground for complaint against Daniel with regard to the kingdom, but they could find no ground for complaint or any fault, because he was faithful, and no error or fault was found in him. (Daniel 6:4). What a life Daniel lived!
They searched hard and they did everything they could to dig up some dirt on him but they found nothing. The only fault they could find with him was with his relationship with God! When people search my life and search your life, is God the only thing they can hold against us? 5 Then these men said, “We shall not find any ground for complaint against this Daniel unless we find it in connection with the law of his God.” (Daniel 6:5). Daniel didn’t know when but he knew things could get really bad for him. Things were going to get really bad for him really soon. When you find yourself as an underdog in need of a comeback . . . Don’t forsake what you know for what you don’t know.
Look at Daniel’s response. 10 When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously. (Daniel 6:10). Daniel knew the consequences but kept doing what he had been doing all his life.
Notice what Daniel didn’t do when he found out the document had been signed. He didn’t go out and start a picket line in front of the palace. He didn’t get into an argument or debate with them about it. He didn’t start a campaign to shut them down or attack them. He simply did 10 as he had done previously. (Daniel 6:10). He continued to live out truth . . . He continued to be faithful in his relationship with God . . . He continued to worship God . . . He continued to pray.
Daniel did exactly what he had been doing for all his life . . . he worshipped God, he trusted God and he prayed! When you are an underdog and need a comeback . . . Pray! He offended them by loving God, revealing what they needed and praying! When we pray things happen! Prayer causes a collision in the heavens between the kingdom of darkness and the Kingdom of Light, between Satan and God. Prayer starts a war and prayer changes things! Our words won’t change things, our plans won’t change things . . . only prayer changes things!
Daniel knew that the document had been signed. He knew what it meant if he was caught. He did what he had always done in the way he had always done it. When you are an underdog and need a comeback . . . Keep doing the right thing the right way. 11 Then these men came by agreement and found Daniel making petition and plea before his God. (Daniel 6:11).
When you are on the verge of being an underdog and needing a comeback, don’t run and hide. Don’t let fear change what you do or how you do it. Daniel kept doing the right thing the right way like he had done all his life. And it did get him thrown into the lions den. Daniel had experienced God’s blessing and His faithfulness even in a pagan nation among pagan people. His desire was to worship God and that was not going to change regardless of the threat that was before him. God had been faithful to him and he was going to be faithful to God.
Sometimes we have the thought that if we do the right thing the right way and honor God with our life, we will never have trouble or difficulty. That is so not true! Sometimes even when you do the right thing the right way you have trouble. Sometimes even when you honor and worship God with your life you will face difficulty because you honor and worship God. Daniel’s example is a very vivid example of that. The very thing that got Daniel thrown into the lions den was the very thing that got him out of the lions den.
Daniel did the right thing the right way his entire life and look where he ended up . . . but that is not the end of the story. What you do and how you live might not be an indicator of what’s going to come your way but how you live and what you do will determine how and if you come out of it. 22 My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths, and they have not harmed me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no harm.” 23 Then the king was exceedingly glad, and commanded that Daniel be taken up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no kind of harm was found on him, because he had trusted in his God. (Daniel 6:22-23).
Daniel did the right thing the right way his entire life and look where he ended up . . . but that is still not the end of the story. 26 I make a decree, that in all my royal dominion people are to tremble and fear before the God of Daniel, for he is the living God, enduring forever; his kingdom shall never be destroyed, and his dominion shall be to the end. 27 He delivers and rescues; he works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth, he who has saved Daniel from the power of the lions.” 28 So this Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian. (Daniel 6:26-28).
Daniel had learned a very powerful lesson which is a powerful lesson for all of us as well. You can be nothing publicly for God that you are not first privately! Who are you when nobody else is looking? When you look in the mirror what do you really see?