From The Pastor At St. Paul's UCC, Freeburg, IL

July 6, 2008 – Daniel 6

Daniel 6, the “lion’s den” story, is one of the most well known and well used – in Sunday School and through the ages. The sermon this coming Sunday will be focussed on just a couple of items from among many that could be gleaned from this text.

  1. The main issue is not “will Daniel get eaten by the lions”; the main question is “will Daniel pray to Darius”?
  2. I’m so struck that all these stories in Daniel 1-6 are about living faithfully in exile. Mainline Christians in North America have not been in exile, but I think we may be getting there, living in a culture that’s becoming increasingly strange and possibly hostile. Anyway, one of the points about Daniel praying not to Darius but to God while facing Jerusalem is that Daniel will not forget where he’s from. He will not be co-opted by exilic cultural values. He will wear Babylonian clothes and speak the Babylonian language, but when it comes to where the roots of life lie, Daniel refuses to forget that ‘this world is not my home’.
  3. Consequently, while I’m a patriot, it seems appropriate on this coming July 4 weekend to say that if we think we’re Christians because we’re Americans, we have it bass-ackward; if we think our political system guarantees our religious freedom, we have it bass-ackward. If we think we’re Americans first and Christians second, we’re cutting ourselves off from the only protection we have from human systems that are inevitably corrupt.

One response

  1. The story of Daniel begins with God allowing the Babylonians to destroy the people Jerusalem and the Temple due to the unfaithfulness of His beloved chosen people. They were repeatedly warned to turn from their idolatry, but they were deaf to His prophets words. He did save the remnant of faithful Jews, Daniel and his friends were among them.

    God blessed Daniel and his friends in many wonderful ways for their faithfulness in Him: the powerful positions, jewels, large homes,…held no sway in who or what was first in their lives – they did not ask for comfort or rewards from God, but God blessed them just the same for their “faith”, which glorified God greatly. Even when facing death, they stayed true to their God, because they knew they would live in God’s presence. Prior to Christ coming to us in human form, God saved those people who stayed true to Him through faith, not because they tied to keet His law.

    Today’s society reminds me of the people of Israel who continuously turned their backs on God. We Christians need to live our faith at all times, just as Daniel did, by staying faithful to God’s Word, humbling ourselves by recognizing how weak and powerless we are without God, believing in Christ by word and heart, repenting of our sins, and asking Him to give us strength, guidance, and endurance each day.

    Can we/will we be like Daniel and never waver in our faith, even when things go terribly wrong? Has our faith been tested to the degree that we know for sure our faith is not only spoken by our mouths, but is also in our hearts? Do we really trust God as Daniel did? Do we realize that we are already citizens of Heaven and our salvation has already been established? Yes, we are Americans, but we are God’s children first and citizens of his Holy realm through our belief in our Savior.

    Darius, and the other kings before him, represent the evil that lurks every where on earth and continuously seeks to draw us away from God. Daniel illustrates how “living our faith in God with steadfastness” will keep us from falling into the temptations put in front of us by Satan, whose greatest pleasure is to get us to to sin knowingly and willingly. Do we/will we worship the “idols” that are found everywhere in our society? We all will to some degree because of our human condition, but submitting ourselves to God will give us the will to resist.

    Our pray to God each day should be to admit each day how weak and powerless we are without Him, and ask Him to put a hedge of thorns around us to protect us from the lure of the “world”. Will we/can we be right with God as Daniel was, no, but as followers in Christ, who is the eternal Fifth Kingdom represented by the statue of Nebuchdanezzar, we are made strong by the Holy Spiriti and clean in God’s eyes.

    July 4, 2008 at 8:03 am

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