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How to Make a Difference in Babylon

by Stephen Davey Scripture Reference: Daniel 6

Life does not become easier as we grow older. However, years of spiritual growth will produce a greater level of maturity and wisdom. Daniel provides an example of how godly wisdom can meet the spiritual challenges we face, whether young or old.


How to Make a Difference in Babylon

Daniel 6


I am concerned that the average Christian is under the impression that the older you become, the lighter the battle with temptation and the easier your walk with God will become.

Well, there’s a biography in the Bible that shatters those false impressions. It’s called the book of Daniel—and we have been sailing through this biography in our Wisdom Journey.

By the time you reach chapter 6, Daniel is in his late eighties. He has spent most of his life in this foreign country that had defeated his own people and perhaps even killed his parents some seventy years earlier.

In spite of it all—and obviously according to the plan of God—Daniel becomes the chief magi, the leader of Babylon’s wise men, and he makes a great impact in the land of Babylon. In fact, his spiritual descendants will one day travel to Bethlehem to worship the newborn King.

Now, you will remember that Babylon fell to the Medes and Persians. So, here in chapter 6, Darius the Mede is now king. Actually, Darius serves under the Persian king Cyrus as a vice-regent, chosen by Cyrus to reign as king in this region of his empire.

Darius is not a personal name but a title, like Caesar or Pharaoh. In fact, the word dara from which Darius apparently is derived, is the Persian word for king.[1]

History reveals that his personal name was Gubaru. And he will reign in the city of Babylon for some fourteen years. But he needs an honest man to keep everybody in line; consequently, he is about to promote Daniel to second in command.

But do not be mistaken; this is not going to make Daniel’s walk with God any easier. In fact, nearly all the events recorded in his life are just one crisis after another.

Now as we go through this chapter, let me give you four qualities that characterize Daniel. And these four qualities need to characterize you as well, if you want to make a difference in the Babylon where God has assigned you today.

The first characteristic is a gracious personality. Verse 3 says:

Then this Daniel became distinguished above all the other [high officials] . . . because an excellent spirit was in him. And the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom.

He possesses “an excellent spirit.” You could render this “an excellent personality.” Simply put, Daniel has a wonderful attitude and a gracious spirit about him.

And don’t overlook the obvious here. By the age of eighty-five, Daniel could have become by now an ornery old man—angry that he had lost his family; bitter that he had spent his life in this pagan, foreign land. But instead, Daniel is marked by a winsome personality.

The second characteristic I want to pull out of his biography is integrity.

When the news leaks out that Darius is going to promote Daniel, we are told in verse 4:

[The other officials tried to find a ground of accusation against Daniel regarding government affairs; but they could find no . . . evidence of corruption, because he was trustworthy. (NASB)

Surely, he must be hiding dirty laundry somewhere! But they can find nothing.

By the way, they are not checking his Old Testament reading plan or how many times he talked about God. When the world starts examining your life, they don’t care how many times you go to church; they want to know if you show up on time and do an honest day’s work.

So, what do these officials do now? They come up with a clever plan to use Daniel’s prayer life against him. They make a suggestion to the king here in verse 7:

Establish an ordinance . . . that whoever makes petition to any god or man for thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions.”

In other words, “Darius, O great king, we want to make you the god of the month. Nobody can pray to anybody else but you for thirty days. Darius, in all his humility, thinks that is a pretty good idea.

A third characteristic that now comes into play is consistency. Note verse 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.

He could decide to hold a month of silent prayer and keep his windows shut. He could avoid what he obviously knows is a trap.[2] Daniel refuses to change his pattern in spite of pressure. 

These men catch him praying and immediately report him to the king. And with that, Daniel’s life is about to be turned upside down again—not because he is faithless, but because he is faithful.

Well, Darius tries to find a loophole in his thirty-day declaration, but there is none. Daniel must be thrown to the lions.

Liberal scholars say these are not real lions at all, that this is just poetic language for Daniel’s political enemies. Well, Daniel would be happy with a little poetic language, but this isn’t poetry—this is reality.

Verse 16 records:

Then the king commanded, and Daniel was brought and cast into the den of lions. The king declared to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, deliver you!”

Daniel does not respond. I think that is because he knows God is not obligated to deliver him. In fact, I believe Daniel assumes he has lived a full life and this lions’ den is the front door into heaven.

There was probably a middle partition in the den, separating Daniel from the lions. Daniel would have heard the gate in the partition opening to allow the lions to enter. Did he brace himself for the impact of hungry lions? Was he afraid? I believe he was—he was just as human as you and I. He was probably wondering how long it would take before he saw the Lord.

What we do know is that this den grew strangely quiet. And Daniel was allowed by God to see an angel, binding the lions’ mouths with invisible cord.

At first daylight, the king races to the den, shouting, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?” (verse 20). Can you imagine his shock as he hears the voice of Daniel replying?

Now before we look at Daniel’s response, let me give you a fourth quality that characterizes Daniel’s testimony. In a word it is humility.

Daniel answers in verse 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.”

He presents just the facts. There is no bragging and no demand for revenge or even for an apology.

He could have given the king quite a lecture for allowing this to happen. He could have acted arrogantly: “Listen, King, I’m God’s prophet. I’ve gotten to know all your lions down here. I’ve even named them: that’s Princess over there, and Leo, and Cuddles over here. I ought to come down here more often!” No. Daniel declares his innocence and then gives all the glory for his rescue to God.

Does this mean Daniel’s life got easier? Well, don’t forget that Daniel lived in this pagan land where he was always in the minority; he was appreciated by some but hated or ignored by many.

And understand this: God never allowed him to return home to Jerusalem. He served in this foreign land his entire life, divinely appointed to make a difference in Babylon.

How did he do that? Through a gracious personality, personal integrity, consistency, and humility. Let’s live that way ourselves, as we live today in our Babylon for the glory of God.

[2] Renald E. Showers, The Most High God: A Commentary on the Book of Daniel (Friends of Israel, 1982), 67.

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