Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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When You Need to be Rescued (Daniel 6)

Dannah Gresh: Are you a people pleaser? Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth challenges us to examine where our trust lies.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: If we believe that earthly people and governments and forces rule, if we believe they are the ultimate rule, then we’re always going to be adjusting our behavior to please those people. But if we really believe that heaven rules, we will be free from the fear of man, and we’ll be able to obey our God no matter what the laws or the culture may say. I’m Dannah Gresh.

Dannah: This is the Revive Our Hearts podcast with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together, for October 6, 2021. I’m Dannah Gresh.

Think of a time when . . . odds were not in your favor! I’m thinking how true this was when God placed high risk momo twins into my daughter-in-law's womb. We were told there was a 50/50 chance of bringing home two healthy babies. It felt like David vs. Goliath! We didn’t like those odds. Then my son and daughter in law met with a physician on the team who was a believer. Robby told him they were feeling so shaken by the odds. This wise doctor simply said: “Pick a percentage. Maybe 100% and then, pray.

Ask God to make that your number! But you’ve got to keep your eyes on Him, not the odds.” Good advice, don’t you think. Today we’re going to look at a story with bad odds: Daniel in the lions’ den! From a logical standpoint, the outcome seemed dire. But the Lord came to the rescue. Nancy’s going to take us back to that powerful story today as she explores Daniel’s trust in the Lord. She’s been teaching from a series titled, “Heaven Rules.” Let’s listen.

Nancy: So, I hope you’re keeping up with us on our study of Daniel, as we look for Heaven rules sightings. We’re taking about a chapter a day, so if you can read ahead and read the chapter before we talk about it, you’ll get even more out of this series.

Now, I want to recap just for a moment. We saw in Daniel chapter 2, several days ago, that Nebuchadnezzar had a dream. He dreamed of a great statue. When Daniel interpreted the dream for the king, the king learned that he (the king) was the head of gold. The head of the Babylonian Empire was the head of gold. But the fact that there were other lesser metals that were the body parts of the rest of that statue, which ultimately crumbled, was to tell him that eventually the Babylonian Empire that he headed would be overthrown. He would be succeeded by inferior kingdoms and kings. 

So as the book of Daniel unfolds, we see this prophecy coming true. We see that God’s Word is being fulfilled. Now, in the last session we looked at Daniel chapter 5. If you’ll just look at the very last verse of Daniel 5, verse 30, it says “That very night Belshazzar” who was successor to King Nebuchadnezzar, “Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans,” another word for Babylonians, he “was killed” as God said he would be “and Darius the Mede received the kingdom at the age of sixty-two.” 

So now we come back to chapter 6 with that set up and that context. In this chapter we see a powerful king, King Darius. He is large and in charge. He hires and fires officials at his whim. And when he fires you, it’s not just a loss of a job; it’s the loss of your head. I mean, you’re done when he fires you. This king makes edicts that are irrevocable—they cannot be changed, they cannot be altered. It looks like as you read this chapter that Darius and his powerful officials are ruling. But what we’re going to see in this chapter is that all kings, all rulers, and all laws and edicts are subject to God, to God’s authority, to God’s rule. Heaven rules. We’re going to see that throughout this chapter. 

Let me begin reading in Daniel chapter 6. Oh Lord as we read, I pray that You would give us understanding—eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts to receive what Your Spirit has to say to us today. Thank You that heaven does rule, and we’ll see that in this chapter. We pray in Jesus’ name, amen. 

Daniel 6, verse 1, “Darius decided,” right there you have who’s in charge? The king is, right?

Darius decided to appoint 120 satraps [these were provincial governors, he] appointed them over the kingdom, stationed throughout the realm and over them, three administrators including Daniel. These satraps would be accountable to these three administrators so that the king would not be defrauded. [They couldn’t hold back the taxes they owed to the king or whatever.] 

Daniel distinguished himself above the administrators and satraps because he had an extraordinary spirit, [Some of your translations may say “an excellent spirit.”] so the king planned to set Daniel over the whole realm.

Now, by this time in the account Daniel is over eighty years of age. He could well have been in retirement, but he kept serving these different kings, serving the Lord as he served these kings. 

By this time, he has served under multiple kings, multiple administrations for nearly seventy years. His God-given gifts, his excellent spirit, made him stand out. So he caught the king’s attention and was promoted. Now, he would be second only to the king. We see throughout this book that Daniel is placed by God in a position of great responsibility and leadership. 

Well, as a result, not surprisingly perhaps, the other leaders were jealous. Remember Joseph and brothers? They were jealous when one was honored, when one was favored, when one had influence. These other leaders began to posture, to jockey, to scheme, to get more power for themselves, which meant they had to try and get less power for Daniel. 

The administrators and satraps therefore kept trying to find a charge against Daniel, regarding the kingdom. (v. 4) 

They were determined to bring down this man, through no fault of his own. So, Daniel lives in an environment that is hostile—hostile to his God, hostile to his faith—as do we. We live in an environment that is increasingly hostile to our God and to our faith, and the followers of God. But the verse goes on. 

They could find no charge or corruption for he was trustworthy, and no negligence or corruption was found in him. (v. 4) 

So, here’s Daniel, he’s a man of utmost integrity. His opponents put his life under a microscope. “We’re sure we’re going to find some dirt on him. We’re sure were going find something wrong.” But they cannot find a single wit of evidence to support their charges or to accuse him of any wrongdoing or inconsistency. 

Would you agree with me that that kind of record is almost unheard of among public servants? The media is always trying to dig up something on politicians—it’s a financial scandal, or it’s a moral scandal, or it’s hypocrisy or accepting bribes or conflict of interests. And so they fought to find the same with Daniel, but they couldn’t find anything on him, unlike most politicians in our era. Nothing could be used against him. 

As I’m meditating on this passage, I’m asking, could that be said of me? Could it be said of us? There’s nothing that the enemies of God can find to support their accusations, against us or our God?

A few days ago when I was working on this, Robert and I were having a conversation about maybe having an assistant help him with his email inbox. I said, “Is there anything in there that you wouldn’t want someone else to see?” Not thinking of something sinful, but something more confidential. He said just like that, “I’m not worried about that at all. I have no secrets.” That’s a Daniel-like spirit. That’s a Daniel-like testimony.

Now, we all have sins, we all have sins that we wouldn’t want exposed. But to live a life that no one, no matter how hard or far they go digging, they couldn’t find something to accuse us of, that’s an amazing life. 

Then these men said, “We will never find any charge against this Daniel unless we find something against him concerning the law of his God.” (v. 5)

They thought that they could trap him between being loyal to his God and being loyal to the king and the empire. 

So the administrators and satraps went together to the king and said to him, "May King Darius live forever. All the administrators of the kingdom—the prefects, satraps, advisers, and governors—have agreed that the king should establish an ordinance and enforce an edict that, for thirty days, anyone who petitions any god or man except you, the king, will be thrown into the lions’ den.” (vv. 6–7)

Here they go as a group. We’ve all talked; we’ve all agreed. Don’t you like it when people come to you and say, “We’ve all been talking about this, and here’s what we all think?” But what they were really doing was appealing to the king’s ego. We want to honor you, Your Majesty. And of course, this king had an ego that could be appealed to. So, therefore, verse 8. 

“Your Majesty, establish the edict and sign the document so that, as a law of the Medes and Persians, it is irrevocable and cannot be changed." So King Darius signed the written edict. (vv. 8–9)

Now the laws and decrees of the Medo-Persian empire were binding. This was because the people believed that the king represented the gods. Therefore, whatever the king said was infallible and royal decrees could never be appealed or repealed. Now the lines are drawn, as they are many times throughout the book of Daniel. God’s adversaries are taking on God’s servant. They want to attempt to force him to deny his faith or die. And these officials were sure that in signing this edict the king was signing Daniel’s death warrant. 

The decree could not be altered, it could not be revoked. But Heaven rules, right? The most high God is above every king, every edict. He can do whatever He wants to do. He could and in time He would overrule the irrevocable decree of the king. 

When Daniel learned that the document had been signed, he went into his house. The windows in its upstairs room opened toward Jerusalem, and three times a day he got down on his knees, prayed, and gave thanks to his God, just as he had done before. (v. 10)

Here’s a question I tweeted this morning as I was meditating on this passage, and it was convicting to me. Here’s the question, “If prayer suddenly became illegal in our land, how much would our habits have to change for us to be convicted as guilty?” In Daniel’s case the answer was, not at all. Not at all.

You see Daniel’s prayer life throughout the book of Daniel. But here we see he had purposeful, intentional prayer. He prayed after hearing about the edict. He knew what he was doing; he was praying on purpose. It was private prayer; it was in his house. He wasn’t trying to be seen or impress others with his prayer life, and yet it was bold prayer. He wasn’t afraid for others to know that he was praying, for others to see him praying. He wasn’t trying to hide his faith or his prayer life. 

It was directional prayer. He faced toward Jerusalem. I love that. In all these years since he was a young teen and had been taken from his homeland, he never forgot where his true home was. He never forgot the God of his fathers. He prayed directionally to his God, not to the gods, not to the king, but to his God, the God. It was regular prayer, three times a day. Regular rhythms of prayer Daniel had. Not just in a crisis, “Oh I better pray!” He was already praying; he already had a rhythm of prayer.

It was humble prayer. He got down on his knees—posture of humility. And keep in mind, he’s over eighty. I don’t know if we have anybody in this room near eighty, but I’m in my sixties and I find it harder and harder. It’s not hard to get down on my knees, it’s harder to get up. But three times a day this elderly statesman got down on his knees to pray. It’s pleading prayer. We’ll see this in verse 11, he could not live without making requests to his God.

And I love that in addition to making requests, he gave thanks to God, even as he knew that his life was at risk. He was pleading, he was praying, he was interceding, but it was also giving thanks even in the midst of this crisis. 

Daniel’s prayer life explains a lot.

  • It explains a lot about his wisdom, about his excellent spirit, about his ability to discern what God was saying and doing in different circumstances and seasons. 
  • It explains a lot about his ability to stay humble in the face of success, and promotions.
  • It explains a lot about what enabled him to stand firm under pressure. 

It was that habit of bowing before the God of heaven and acknowledging his need for God, every day and throughout the day. 

This prayer life is the behavior of a man who believed that heaven really does rule

  • He knew that his fate and his life were in God’s hands not the kings, so he prayed. 
  • He knew that God was more powerful than any king, so he prayed to his God. 
  • He knew that God hears and answers prayer, so he prayed. 
  • He knew the safest place he could be was in the presence of God, so he got on his knees and he prayed.

You know, if we believe that earthly people and forces and governments rule, if we believe they are the ultimate rule, then we’re always going to be adjusting our behavior to please those people. But if we really believe that Heaven rules, we will be free from the fear of man. We will be able to obey our God no matter what the laws or the culture may say.

Then these men went as a group and found Daniel petitioning and imploring his God. (v. 11) 

Prayer was a way of life for Daniel. It was a way of life when his government job was secure, and it was a way of life when his career and life were threatened. It made no difference to a praying man. 

So they approached the king and asked about his edict: "Didn’t you sign an edict that for thirty days any person who petitions any god or man except you, the king, will be thrown into the lions’ den?" The king answered, "As a law of the Medes and Persians, the order stands and is irrevocable." Then they replied to the king, "Daniel, one of the Judean exiles, has ignored you, the king, and the edict you signed, for he prays three times a day.’"(vv. 12–13) 

They were watching; people do watch. That was his testimony. He prays three times a day. That’s the worst accusation they could make against this man—he prays three times a day—which was by now illegal.

As soon as the king heard this, he was very displeased; he set his mind on rescuing Daniel and made every effort until sundown to deliver him. (v. 14)

The king hated the thought of feeding Daniel to the lions. Daniel was a trustworthy effective public servant who had done absolutely nothing wrong, but the edict could not be reversed. 

Then these men went together to the king and said to him, "You know, Your Majesty, that it is a law of the Medes and Persians that no edict or ordinance the king establishes can be changed." (v. 15)

It’s a law; it can’t change. There are times here on earth when it seems like heaven doesn’t rule. It seems that ungodly laws rule, that ungodly lawmakers rule, that an ungodly boss rules. And in these situations, it sometimes seems like there is no way out. It’s unchangeable, it’s irrevocable, it will never change is sometimes what we feel. It’s only getting worse, is what we sometimes feel. There’s no way out.

So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions’ den. (v. 16)

Now, let’s just say God could have rescued Daniel before he got into the lions’ den, but in His infinite wisdom, He didn’t choose to do it that way. Heaven rules, and we submit to Heaven’s rule. 

They threw him into the lions’ den. The king said to Daniel, "May your God, whom you continually serve, rescue you!" (v. 16)

This is the power of a faithful testimony, faithful witness, “your God whom you continually serve.” The king hoped that the God in heaven would do what he could not do

A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den. The king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the signet rings of his nobles, so that nothing in regard to Daniel could be changed. (v. 17)

Daniel’s fate was sealed . . . or so it seemed. 

Then the king went to his palace and spent the night fasting. No diversions were brought to him, and he could not sleep. (v. 18)

So the king is in distress. He cares for Daniel. He admires him. He’s unable to eat or sleep, and by the way, there’s no indication of that being true of Daniel. It’s the king who was exercised. No doubt that Daniel prayed in that lions’ den, as he was accustomed to doing. 

I wonder if maybe one of his prayers was that prayer in Psalm 22, later attributed as a prophetic prayer to the Messiah. In Psalm 22:21 “Save me from the lion’s mouth . . . I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters; I will praise you in the assembly.” Did he pray with that intercession that is pleading with God and that praise while he was down there in that den? 

At the first light of dawn the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den. When he reached the den, he cried out in anguish to Daniel. "Daniel, servant of the living God," the king said, "has your God, whom you continually serve, been able to rescue you from the lions?" (vv. 19–20) 

Did the king think it was possible? Did he assume that Daniel was dead? Did he think that maybe Daniel had lived?

Then Daniel spoke with the king: "May the king live forever. My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths; and they haven’t harmed me, for I was found innocent before him. And also before you, Your Majesty, I have not done harm." (v. 21)

God vindicated his servant; God rescued His servant. God sent an angel. Many times in Scripture this happens. We learn in Hebrews chapter 1 that angels are ministering spirits sent out by God to serve those who were going to inherit salvation. This is what angels do: they are God’s messengers, they’re His ambassadors, they come to rescue. Psalm 34:7 says, “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and rescues them.”

Now, this angel may have been one of God’s created servants, or it may have been as we think was probably the case in the fiery furnace chapters earlier, a pre-incarnate appearance of Christ Himself. One thing we know for sure, God was with Daniel, as He had been with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in that fiery furnace. Emmanuel God is with us, in the king’s palace, in the fiery furnace, in the lions’ den. 

The king was overjoyed and gave orders to take Daniel out of the den. When Daniel was brought up from the den, he was found to be unharmed, for he trusted . . . (v. 23) 

That word “trusted” is a word that is like our word “amen.” It’s confidence, it’s security, it’s assurance. “He trusted in his God.” 

Listen friends, sometimes our greatest witness to the reality and the power of God is when we suffer afflictions and trials and others see us trusting our God and not being swallowed up or overcome by the ordeal. This is a more powerful witness than not being thrown into the den in the first place. As you get thrown into the den, you trust God whatever the outcome. 

The king then gave the command, and those men who had maliciously accused Daniel were brought and thrown into the lions’ den—they, their children, and their wives. They had not reached the bottom of the den before the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones. (v. 24)

That detail is given to us in case we wondered if perhaps the lions when Daniel was in the den were just sleepy or not hungry or not powerful. It’s clear that God rescued His servant, and sent judgment to his enemies. 

Psalm 34:19, says, “One who is righteous has many adversities, but the Lord rescues him from them all. He protects all his bones; not one of them is broken. Evil brings death to the wicked, and those who hate the righteous will be punished.” Not necessarily in our timeline. Now, we don’t pray for judgment, we pray for mercy. We pray for sinners and evil doers to repent that they may themselves redeemed. But those who are unrepentant and unredeemed and unwilling to bow the knee before Christ will be judged. 

Those who had orchestrated Daniel’s downfall were caught in the very trap they had set for him. In God’s time, keep that in mind, those who trust in the Lord will be delivered from all ultimate harm. That doesn’t mean we won’t get some scratches on the way. It doesn’t even mean we may not lose this earthly life, but we will be delivered from all harm.

Then King Darius wrote to those of every people, nation, and language who live on the whole earth: “May your prosperity abound. I issue a decree that in all my royal dominion, people must tremble in fear before the God of Daniel:

For he is the living God,
and he endures forever;
his kingdom will never be destroyed,
and his dominion has no end.
He rescues and delivers;
he performs signs and wonders
in the heavens and on the earth,
for he has rescued Daniel
from the power of the lions.” (vv. 25–27)

Daniel’s experience forced the king to acknowledge that Heaven rules. And keep in mind that Daniel didn’t know the end of the story, until the end of the story. We know the end of the story, so like this is just a kid’s tale. But no, this is a tale for grownups who don’t know the end of the story and need to be reminded that Heaven rules. God’s kingdom is supreme, it is eternal. He is merciful, and He is kind, and He has the power to rescue and deliver all those who trust in Him. 

So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian. (v. 28)

He outlived that king and served under yet another king. You can trust God to write, w-r-i-t-e your story, and you can be assured that in the end He will right, r-i-g-h-t your story. 

In the short term, Daniel’s wisdom, his spirit, his trustworthiness, his exemplary life made him a target of the enemy. It didn’t seem for a while that holy, obedient life paid off. He experienced dire consequences for refusing to obey the king’s edict. But Daniel wasn’t in it for the here and now. His knowledge of who God is, his knowledge of the loyalty that we owe God, and the story that God is writing in this world, all of that gave him the courage to withstand the assault on his faith. 

He was willing to give up everything to honor God. And in the long run, he would be honored by God. Those who sought to ruin and destroy him would be destroyed. That storyline has been replayed over and over again throughout Scripture and throughout human history. That storyline is leading in the ultimate consummation of God’s plan, and the coronation of King Jesus. So, wait for the Lord. In due time He will act. He will right every wrong, and those who put their hope in Him will reign with Him for forever.

This world is not a friend of grace, so let’s stop expecting it to be. The goal of this world is to bring down the Most High God. So, God’s servants will face opposition. We will be maliciously accused as Daniel and his friends were, but in the midst of it all our faithfulness to God, our prayers, our courage, our faith, our perseverance, our willingness even to suffer, all of this provides an opportunity for the power of God to be showcased, put on display. And remember, no matter what you’re going through that is no friend to grace, in God’s way in His time, He will deliver and rescue all those who trust in Him. Heaven rules. 

Dannah: Do you trust the Lord to be your Rescuer? Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has been encouraging us, through the story of Daniel and the lions’ den, to trust God at all times. Most of the time, that’s easier said than done, right? Can you think of a time when you needed to trust the Lord in faith?

We need reminders like Daniel’s story—of his faith and how God delivered him—to keep our eyes focused on God’s sovereignty and power. Another reminder to steady your heart on Him is our new daily Advent card set. Advent season is coming up soon. I want to tell you about this resource I’m excited about so you can plan ahead. Whatever this upcoming season may look like for you, Revive Our Hearts wants to help you fix your eyes on Jesus and find assurance in His promises.

Each day’s card prompts you to remember the hope found in Christ as you fix your eyes on the Savior. You’ll receive a set of these Advent cards when you give a gift of any amount to this ministry. Visit ReviveOurHearts.com to make a donation and request the advent cards, or call us at 1–800–569–5959.

With your gift, we’ll also send you a discount code for Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth’s devotional, The First Songs of Christmas. In this 31-day Advent devotional, Nancy reflects on the first two chapters of the book of Luke. Use this resource to meditate on the greatness of our Savior this Christmas.

Now, Scripture tells us that the Lord gives and takes away. Nancy will show us how we can place our confidence in His power tomorrow as she continues in the series, “Heaven Rules.” Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is calling you to freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ.

All Scripture is taken from the CSB.

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About the Teacher

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love for Christ and His Word is infectious, and permeates her online outreaches, conference messages, books, and two daily nationally syndicated radio programs—Revive Our Hearts and Seeking Him.

She has authored twenty-two books, including Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free, Seeking Him (coauthored), Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together, and You Can Trust God to Write Your Story (coauthored with her husband). Her books have sold more than five million copies and are reaching the hearts of women around the world. Nancy and her husband, Robert, live in Michigan.

About the Host

Erin Davis

Erin Davis

Erin Davis is an author, blogger, and speaker who loves to see women of all ages run to the deep well of God’s Word. She is the author of many books and Bible studies including: 7 Feasts, Connected, Beautiful Encounters, and the My Name Is Erin series. She serves on the ministry team of Revive Our Hearts. When she’s not writing, you can find Erin chasing chickens and children on her small farm in the Midwest.