Read vs. 11-28
And so, it begins, the persecution begins. I find it interesting that all the men assembled at the precise time Daniel was praying and making supplication before his God.
Let’s set the scene. The presidents and princes got together and formed their plan. They gathered in the morning made their case to Cyrus, convinced him this was the best thing for the empire, he agreed and signed the thirty-day mandate, I mean decree.
This took most of the morning, but they have plenty of time to meander over to Daniel’s home to first, fill him in on the decree make sure he heard the news. After hearing about the decree, Daniel immediately takes to his prayer room, it is noon time after all, and just like every other day he prayed at noon. Watching from the street the leaders wait for Daniel to begin his prayer time. They watch him open his window, they watch him kneel by the windowsill, making it his altar, and they hear his prayers billowing out his window, all throughout the city. His prayer could clearly be heard from the street below.
This is just what they needed; this is the only way they could take this “old Jew out”. Going back to the palace they stand before the king, asking him, “Didn’t you just sign a decree, demanding that no one, and we mean no one, was permitted to petition or pray to any other man or god, except you, for thirty days?” And didn’t you decree that if anyone were found doing so they would be thrown into a den of lions.
“Yes”, the king replies, “according to the law which can never be altered.” I imagine he found it odd that he just signed the decree only a few hours prior, and now they are asking him about it.
They go on, “Well, that Daniel who, by the way, is one of those captives from Judah, has no regard for you O King or your decree”. “Even though you signed a decree, he still makes petitions, three times a day.”
As soon as the king heard this, once he heard it was Daniel who was caught petitioning God, it says in vs. 14, that he was extremely displeased with “himself”. He was not angry with Daniel, he wasn’t even angry with the other government officials, he was mad at himself. Why do you think he was angry with himself?
He thought highly of Daniel. He knew and understood Daniel’s faith in his God. He was mad at himself for being rash and jumping into creating a decree without giving any thought to how it might affect him or his people. He allowed his own ego to get in the way of creating a law that was right. We know of people who allow their ego to get in the way of properly running this nation, it’s no different today. At least he accepted the blame, we don’t see that much.
He was so upset with himself for creating such a ridiculous law, that he set his heart, he became determined to find a way to deliver Daniel from this horrible fate. The leaders came to the king around noontime. From noon until that evening, the king labored over finding a way to undo this law he created. He researched every law, trying to find a loophole, alas, there were none.
Another law or custom of the Medes-Persians held was to perform the executions before nightfall. The king has wasted the entire afternoon trying to get Daniel out of the mess he put him in, the leaders are now out of patience and they return to the king, again reminding him that this law cannot and will not be broken, there is no way it will be changed. Even if it could, they wouldn’t have permitted it.
What I find interesting is how there are no records of Daniel saying one single word. He didn’t protest, he didn’t argue, he didn’t put on a pity party, he didn’t beg for mercy, he said nothing.
The king ordered Daniel to be brought to the lion’s den, where everyone gathered to witness this event. Just before they tossed him into the pit of starving lions, the king said to Daniel, “Your God whom you serve continually, He will deliver you.” Now that’s what I’m talking about. The king is speaking prophetically. “Daniel, you have served your God continually, you are faithful to him, you have honored him with your life, and He will save you.”
Following the prophetic decree, Daniel was thrown down into the lion’s den. Are you all familiar with Joe Exotic or Carol Baskin? If you’ve watched the show, you would have witnessed how ravaging these lions are when it is feeding time. The lions on that documentary were given regular feedings. The lions in the den Daniel was tossed into were deliberately starved so that they would immediately consume whoever was tossed down for execution.
Another point I want to make is this isn’t just a few lions; this would have been an entire den of lions. Looking ahead at vs. 24, Daniel’s accusers, their children and their wives were all thrown down into the same den and it reads they were all overpowered by the lions and their bones were broken into pieces before they came anywhere near the floor of the den. A large grouping of people was thrown into the pit, they were brutally attacked before any of them even hit the floor. That is a massive number of lions.
Daniel looks down, sees the lions circling, and leaping towards the opening, he hears the loud thunderous roars. Yet he does not tremble, he doesn’t not falter, he does not say a word. He is pushed into the opening. The stone was rolled across the opening and sealed with the king’s signet ring along with the other lords’ seals. This was done so that no one could say he escaped or was taken from the pit. Does this part sound familiar? This is what was done when Jesus was placed in the tomb.
In vs. 18 king Cyrus left the scene and went back to his palace. KJV says he fasted, he did not listen to any entertainment and he had a long night because he could not fall asleep. Did you ever have a night like that, those are long miserable nights. I’m also interested in the use of the word fasting. I wonder if he, in his own pagan way was reaching out to Daniel’s God or if he was just too upset to eat. I tend to think he was trying to connect with God in some way on Daniel’s behalf.
Finally, the sun began to rise, the king ran down to the lion’s den. You’d think he would have stuck around for a little bit to check on Daniel if he were so distraught over the situation. But it is recorded that he left the pit, and he went back to the palace for the night. I think it just got to be too much for him, he just had to know if God rescued Daniel.
Arriving at the den, Cyrus cried out to Daniel in a lamented voice. A lamented voice is one that is moaning, grieving, weeping. He was weeping as he yelled down the pit to Daniel. He was wailing in agony over what he might learn. In a wailing voice he yells out, “Daniel, was the God you serve able to deliver you?” “Did he keep you safe from the lions?” “Are you alive”, he cried out.
“Oh king, live forever” is what Cyrus heard echoing back to him. Reread vs. 22
God not only shut the mouths of those lions, but he also temporarily declawed them. No wounds not even a single scratch was found on his body. God didn’t do this just because he thought this would be one fantastic story to tell your grandbabies, even though it is. He controlled the lions because Daniel was found to be righteous before him. Daniel had an incredible faith in God, he was found innocent before his accusers and God protected him. God used this to show Cyrus as well as any other gentile that God is most high, and all powerful, and he alone determines the fate of his people.
Once Cyrus realized Daniel was safe and that his God saved him, he put out a press release. He wrote to all the people, nations, and languages. He issued an amazing decree that can be found in vs. 26 (reread).