Weekend Message Takeaway: The Lions' Den

This past weekend, we continued our series, “Revealer of Mysteries: A Study Through Daniel,” as Pastor Doug Sauder shared from Daniel 6. In this message, we took a look at one of the most famous and powerful stories in all of Scripture: the epic story of Daniel and the lions' den. We examined the circumstances, how God worked for Daniel's good and His glory, and got to see a beautiful portrait of the gospel in these events.

Watch the video below to see a few highlights from the teaching and share it with your friends via social media. To watch the message in its entirety, click here.


FOR THE NOTE TAKERS
Let’s recap some of the key talking points from Pastor Doug's message this weekend:

Comparison Is the Thief of Joy (Daniel 6:1–5): Daniel was a man of integrity, a man who had an excellent spirit in him. He was a man of conviction in an age of compromise. He lived faithfully, submissively, and humbly in the presence of the Lord. He epitomized what the apostle Paul would write about in Colossians 3:23 (NIV) when he said, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” And because of this, King Darius had taken notice. He saw a man who lived well, worked well, who was full of wisdom, devoted, respectful, and honest. He saw a man who had no rival in his kingdom, so he decided to essentially make Daniel his right-hand man. Well, this did not sit well with the other administrators and governors of the Medo-Persian Empire. Instead of celebrating the success of their colleague, they were filled with envy.

A Harvard Business Review article declared, “Envy damages relationships, disrupts teams, and undermines organizational performance. Most of all, it harms the one who feels it. When you are obsessed with someone else’s success, your self-respect suffers, and you may even sabotage your own success.” This is exactly what happened here! These men, these so-called leaders, weren’t satisfied with their high position. They saw someone else being promoted—deservedly—and were immediately consumed with envy . . . an envy that drove them to a dark place.

So, the questions we must ask ourselves are: "Who do I compare myself with?", "Can I celebrate the success of someone else?", and "Can I be content with what I’ve been given and where I’ve been placed by the Lord?" We must never fall into the trap of comparison. It truly is one of the most destructive things for us as humans. We must not look at the lives of others and instead keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. When we do that, there will be no envy, because in Jesus we have everything we need. In Jesus, we have victory, power, prosperity, and we've been granted every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 1:3). In Jesus, we are complete! May we never forget that; may we never take our eyes off of Him and put them on the lives of others.

Envy Consumes the Mind (Daniel 6:6–10): Envy is more than just a feeling or an emotion, it’s a spirit. It’s the spirit of idolatry, which provokes jealousy and leads to rebellion and sin. Here, the satraps and administrators were so consumed with envy toward the Lord’s servant they tried to bring him down. Unfortunately for them, they couldn’t find any fault in Daniel. His work was flawless, his character was blameless, and he was a man of integrity. So, they concocted a plan: “We shall not find any charge against this Daniel unless we find it against him concerning the law of his God” (Daniel 6:5 NKJV). And they did.

These men went before the king, fed his ego, and manipulated him into issuing a ridiculous and vain decree (for 30 days no one could pray to anyone but King Darius, otherwise they would be thrown into a den of hungry lions to be ruthlessly and horrifyingly executed). They pandered to the king and found a way to get him to do exactly what they wanted.

So, what does Daniel do? He immediately goes up to his house, in his upper room with the window open, kneels by the window and prays as he always did, facing Jerusalem, three times that day. Daniel would not be deterred nor shaken. He continued to be faithful to the Lord and devoted to prayer. What is your habit? Do you make space for prayer? Are you intentional in both good and hard times to sit at your Father’s feet?

Envy Leads to Accusation (Daniel 6:11–18): As mentioned above, after the decree was issued, Daniel continued in his daily discipline of prayer. He prayed three times by his window as was his custom. And these men saw him do so all three times. They wanted to make sure, so they literally watched him all day! And so, they brought the accusation to the king. At this point, the king realized what had been done, how he’d been manipulated, but he could not change the decree or law because once a decree is issued by the king, it cannot be changed. Why? Because he was thought to speak for the gods, who could never be wrong and thus never needed to change their minds.

Upon learning of this plot, we’re told King Darius was deeply troubled, realizing his most trusted official, a man he was deeply fond of and had great respect for, Daniel, would be thrown into a den of lions to meet a gruesome, horrific death. In the original language, the term deeply troubled literally translates as “to be rotten.” He felt a such great stress and agony over this, a “rottenness in his bones.” In other words, it made him sick to his very core, so much so that he did everything he could, left no stone unturned, spent hours upon hours trying to find a loophole, an exception, any little inkling of hope to save Daniel.

Now, the question is why? Why would this pagan king who inherited Daniel from another kingdom, from a previous regime, from an enslaved and captive people . . . why would this burn him up so deeply in his soul and cause him to try so hard to save him? Well, one may believe it’s because when Darius was around Daniel, he absolutely felt the presence of the living God. Daniel must have been a truly irresistible person to be around because he lived with conviction and in such great devotion to God.

He was so faithful and lived above reproach in both his professional and personal life, so surrendered and filled with the Spirit that people couldn’t help but be drawn to him. And because of this, Darius expended a lot of time and energy trying to find a way out of this situation, to save Daniel, to rescue him by his own human, earthly, even royal power . . . but to no avail. Little did Darius realize that what was meant for evil, God had plans to use for good.

Our God Shuts the Mouth of the Enemy (Daniel 6:19–28): Realizing he was at the end of his rope, had no power or control over the situation, and that this was completely beyond his ability to impact, Darius says this: “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you” (Daniel 6:16 NIV)! In the New Living Translation, it says it this way: “May your God, whom you serve so faithfully, rescue you.” And God surely did! Daniel wasn’t rescued from the trial, he was rescued through the trial as God used the trial to bring glory to His name and show His power, mercy, and love to the entire empire!

You see, there is no den God can’t rescue His people from, no ravenous lions God can’t shut the mouths of! Romans 8:31, 35, 37–39 (NIV) tells us, “If God is for us, who can be against us? . . . Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? . . . No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” 

Quote to Remember: When the enemy sends lions, our God sends angels.—Pastor Doug Sauder



QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION
As you think about this weekend’s teaching, here are a few questions to reflect on and consider on your own, with your family, or in your group. 

1. Who do I compare myself to? Who am I jealous of?

2. How has comparison led to envy in my life?

3. How can I stop envy’s path? Who can I tell? How do I repent?

4. How has the Lord showed up in my life in trials?


A LOOK AHEAD

This Wednesday, Pastor Jerry Sander from our Boca campus will look at the kingdoms of the world and examine the delicate intersection of the Church and politics.

Then on the weekend, Pastor Doug Sauder will share from Daniel 7 as we begin our journey through the final five chapters of this profound Old Testament book, which are all prophetic in nature. In this message, we'll revisit the prophecy from Daniel 2, but this time instead of seeing the image comprised of different precious metals (Nebuchadnezzar's perspective), we'll examine it as it four horrifying beasts (Daniel's perspective).