Hope Unsealed

“A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the rings of his nobles, so that Daniel’s situation might not be changed. Then the king returned to his palace and spent the night without eating and without any entertainment being brought to him. And he could not sleep.”—Daniel 6:17–18 (NIV)

I’m going to go backwards and start at the end of this passage. After being backed into a corner and forced to carry out a decree he regretted, Darius went back to his palace and essentially fasted. He refused to eat, he didn’t turn on Netflix (or, you know, the ancient version of that), and was unable to rest. He was a hot mess! This sticks out to me because it shows us the stark difference between Darius, an unbelieving man who doesn’t know God, our El Shaddai (“supplier”) and Jehovah Jireh (“provider”), and Daniel. Honestly, what does Darius truly have to hope in?

Contrast Darius’ actions here with Daniel’s in chapter 2. After learning of Nebuchadnezzar’s decision to kill all the wise men of Babylon for the dream fiasco, Daniel asks for a chance. He then goes home, asks his friends to pray with him, and he went to sleep. He wasn’t restless at the thought of his impending doom; he wasn’t terrified or filled with dread. He prayed, trusted that his God would accomplish His will and purposes, and he was able to rest in that. Consider Peter singing while in prison, not a restless wreck but a rested rock. Or Paul under house arrest, not withering in fear but working in faith.

This is the difference between one who has truly known, experienced, and walked in the hope of God and one who doesn’t know Him. Now, this doesn’t mean we’ll never struggle, waver, experience fear, doubt, or moments of hopelessness, because we are human. However, as believers, even when it hurts, even when we’re angry, sad, anxious, facing persecution, temptation, or death, we can have hope, we can overcome, have victory, and experience rest as Daniel did.

Now, let me show you something powerful at the beginning of the verse: “A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the rings of his nobles, so that Daniel’s situation might not be changed.” Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

It sounds a lot like Matthew 27, where Jesus is buried, has a stone rolled over the tomb entrance, sealing it, and has a guard placed in front to ensure Jesus’ situation does not change. Except that His situation does change, because the stone was rolled away and the Son of God emerged victorious, having reversed the curse, having conquered sin and death! And so, because of Jesus, we don’t have to live another night of our lives like King Darius. Like Daniel, we can rest because our Lion of Judah is also a Good Shepherd who restores our soul and gives us green pastures upon which to rest!

DIG: Why was Darius so restless and anxious? How have you handled nights like this in your life?

DISCOVER: What does Christian hope look like and why is it so unique?

DO: If you’re struggling today, if you’re feeling hopeless, if you’re hurting or broken or scared, come to the altar. Bring it to the Father; let it all out. Cry out and be genuine, raw, and vulnerable. Pray for hope to spring up in you. Pray for peace, wisdom, and courage to overflow in your life. And then believe He is able, and that He wants to pour out these qualities in you.