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Daniel 1:1-6; 6:1-28
Everything I Need to Know I Learned in VBS:
Daniel – “Lion’s Den”
Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church
Through the Written Word,
And the spoken word,
May we know Your Living Word,
Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
At our September Presbytery Summit we had the pleasure and privilege of commissioning into service and into a brand new position called Presbytery Expeditor, Katie Stark, whom you will all get a chance to meet in a few minutes. She serves our Lord by leading this Presbytery into new understandings of how denominational gardens might grow in this 21st century. It wasn’t too may years ago that churches were planted by Presbyteries or by particular congregations, and the working theory was, like the quote from that 1989 baseball movie starring Kevin Costner, an Iowa corn farmer, who heard a voice that said, “If you build it, they (sic) will come.” (Field of Dreams)
Our own church, back in 1907, started as a vision of 4th Memorial Church (at the time, 4th Presbyterian Church). Their 1905 Session Minutes record something about “providing a Sunday School for the children who live way up in the boonies of Spokane, as far north as Spokane will ever go (almost as far as Wellesley Ave!).” And a year after they got that started, our church was chartered. They built it, and we came.
But in this 21st Century, what we’re seeing, is that that philosophy no longer works. Katie is helping us see how to be the Church of Jesus Christ in this latest century.
As we continue our current Sermon Series looking at some of our favorite VBS and Sunday School lessons – stories of Creation, Adam and Eve, Noah and the flood, a few about Abraham & Isaac & Jacob, Moses, Joshua & Rahab, & Ruth & Boaz, a look through the book of Judges, and we watched as God chose a young shepherd boy to become the next King of Israel, then this young King-in-waiting took on a giant-sized Goliathan professional cage-fighter, and last week we jumped another 400 years forward after the Babylonian Empire conquered Israel and took its people captive, including Shadrack, Meshach and Abednego, as we continue this series today, we experience another example of how a worshipping community is planted in a brand new way.
Today we read about the fourth guy that we met last week when Nebuchadnezzar invaded Judah and took those guys captive. By the time we get to Daniel chapter 6 another country, Media, and their King Darius, had taken over world power.
Listen to the Word of God today from Daniel 6:1-28 wherein we find what may be Daniel’s most famous story. Listen for God’s voice to you; what is God saying to you this morning? Hear God’s voice …. —-
King Darius (king of the Medes, who had conquered the Babylonians)
had appointed 120 Satraps, leaders, and 3 managers in charge of them. This plan eliminated the need for mid-term elections, but it did nothing to eliminate the political name-calling and back-stabbing. You see, Daniel, had proven himself to King Darius as the most capable and most reliable leader in the Kingdom, so King Darius planned to appoint Daniel over the whole Kingdom!
Well, you can imagine what all these Satraps and managers thought of that plan. So they conspired a way to change King Darius’ plans. Knowing that Daniel was a faithful Jew, who worshipped and prayed to YHWH, the God of Creation and Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, they advised King Darius to make a law that everyone must worship HIM as god, and that anyone who did not do this would be fed to the lions.
So king Darius made this a law – the most important law in the land!
10 Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. 11 Then these men went as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help. 12 So they went to the king and spoke to him about his royal decree: “Did you not publish a decree that during the next thirty days anyone who prays to any god or human being except to you, Your Majesty, would be thrown into the lions’ den?”
The king answered, “The decree stands—in accordance with the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed.”
13 Then they said to the king, “Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, Your Majesty, or to the decree you put in writing. He still prays three times a day.” 14 When the king heard this, he was greatly distressed; he was determined to rescue Daniel and made every effort until sundown to save him.
15 Then the men went as a group to King Darius and said to him, “Remember, Your Majesty, that according to the law of the Medes and Persians no decree or edict that the king issues can be changed.”
16 So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions’ den. The king said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!”
With Daniel in the den of starving lions they closed the opening with a stone, and then they sealed the stone closure with the king’s wax seal. King Darius went home, went to bed, and spent the night tossing and turning because he was so upset about what he had been forced to do.
First thing in the morning he ran to the cave and hollered through the stone door:
“Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?” (Was he hopeful? What did he expect to get as an answer?)
21 Daniel answered, “May the king live forever! 22 My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, Your Majesty.”
23 The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God. (Does this sound like the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego after their fiery furnace fiasco? – Now, be careful, what happens next is seldom included in the VBS lessons, so listener’s discretion is advised….)
24 At the king’s command, the men who had falsely accused Daniel were brought in and thrown into the lions’ den, along with their wives and children. And before they reached the floor of the den, the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones. (OK, back to the Rated G part of the story:)
25 Then King Darius wrote to all the nations and peoples of every language in all the earth:
“May you prosper greatly! 26 “I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel. (Nebuchadnezzar said the same thing in chapter 3 – but Darius goes further, listen🙂 “For he is the living God and he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed,
his dominion will never end.
27 He rescues and he saves; he performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth.
He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.”
28 So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.
What did you notice in today’s VBS story? Did you hear God call your name? What did God say to you? ….
We recognized a few similarities between this story and that of Shad, Shak and Abed, right? A law demanding that people break the first of the Ten Commandments, the main character(s) deciding to remain faithful to their God, resulting in a death sentence (fire/lions), and God protecting, rescuing, saving.
But, let’s look a little more deeply in this Lion’s Den for a minute. Remember how so many of these Old Testament VBS stories give a glimpse of the New Testament revelation of God’s perfect love and power, grace and mercy, through His one and only Son?
- In today’s story, what did Daniel get thrown into? (a lion’s den – a cave of death – a tomb)
- How did they seal this would-be-tomb? (a stone to close the opening, sealed for assurance of death)
- And like the fourth man in the fiery furnace last week, remember how there was “one like the Son of God”?, in today’s story “God sent an ‘angel’ to protect, to rescue, to save”. The word “angel” literally means “messenger” …… is this yet another embodiment of the pre-incarnate Son of God, Jesus showing Himself some 550 years before the first Christmas?
What we find here is evidence that the sovereign YHWH’s work toward offering us a full-saving relationship with Himself by faith in Jesus Christ has always been His plan – fulfilled in the life, death and resurrection of God’s Son.
Daniel was rescued, delivered from death, saved, because he trusted God – and this revealed truth of God’s perfect demonstration of grace and power invites us to trust Him completely, when we might be scared to death of what the day holds, when we are staring death in the face, when we stumble in the dark because we just don’t know…. We are invited to trust God, and to put our lives, our livelihoods, in God’s hands.
Daniel also exemplifies for us how living our faith afresh, anew, in a fresh world might look. Daniel prayed, like he had every day, but in this story he did that against the law and in a window that allowed the world to look in and see. He held the ancient truth of the Gospel and his traditional means of worship – but he did that in bold new ways.
- That forces us to ask how we worship and serve God with integrity and authenticity in ways that meet the challenges of 2019.
- And with that I invite Katie to come up and share what her “expeditor” role is about and what doors that opens for us.
- And while she comes up, I will remind you what our November newsletter announces regarding our empty lot just south of the church building – keep your eyes on that lot and watch how God is inviting us to participate with Him in some new ventures.
Thank You, YHWH God, for Daniel’s story of trust in You and for Your trustworthy power and grace. Thank You for Katie Stark. We ask Your Word to be fulfilled in her work with our Presbytery, with our Church, that we might all live our faith well into Your call on our purpose through Christ our Lord, in Jesus’ name. Amen.