Today’s Scripture Focus: Daniel 6:16-28
The Old Testament is a story of a God and a people. The people start out as a small family of wanderers, insignificant in the eyes of the major empires of the Bronze and Iron Ages—Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, and the Medo Persians. However, God chose this small tribe of Hebrews to show God’s power over the kingdoms of this world. As long as the people trusted God, they were protected from these great kingdoms, but when they forgot God they became subject to them. The most dramatic example of this, of course, is the Babylonian exile, in which Jerusalem was made a waste land and God’s people were carried away to a land not their own.
Daniel is significant because he saw this exile from beginning to end. Daniel served the mighty King Nebuchadnezzar through his highs and lows, and taught him to at least acknowledge God’s sovereignty. After the king died, however, one of his descendants took the throne. Belshazzar not only ignored the lessons learned by his predecessor—he out and out mocked God in a great drunken banquet. A hand appeared and wrote Belshazzar’s fate on the wall, and Daniel—now in his 70s and out of favor with the new king—was called in to interpret the mysterious message on the wall. Belshazzar would die that night and Babylon would fall.
Power once again shifted in the region as the Medo Persians (modern day Iran) conquered and divided the Babylonian Empire. Daniel soon found favor with the new regime, and was restored to a position of great authority over the satraps (governors). A big part of the job was tax collection, which gave lots of opportunities for corrupt satraps to enrich themselves. Daniel, however, refused to participate in bribery or graft, so the satraps conspired to get rid of him. Under the guise of uniting the new empire, the satraps convinced the king to issue a decree that anyone who prayed to any god or man except the king for 30 days would die.
Like all exiles, Daniel had not forgotten his homeland in Jerusalem, and prayed towards it three times a day. The satraps of course brought this to the king’s attention, who could not spare Daniel without losing face. Daniel faced a certain horrible death among hungry lions. God, however, had another plan. God miraculously spared Daniel’s life. It was time for King Darius to learn the same lesson King Nebuchadnezzar had to learn—there is a God in Heaven! Under the new king, that prayer Daniel prayed three times a day would soon be answered. The exiles, having both learned and taught others that God is in control, would soon be allowed to return home.
- Go around the table and share prayer requests. Have someone lead in prayer.
- Let everyone who would like to share anything exciting from their week.
- Ask these three questions. Let as many answer each one as they would like.
“Daniel and the Lion’s Den” is of course a popular children’s Bible story. What Bible stories do you remember having the greatest impact on you as a child? What lessons did they teach you?
Is there anything in today’s scripture that especially speaks to you?
What questions would you like to ask about today’s scripture?