“You will keep the peace, a perfect peace, for all who trust in You, for those who dedicate their hearts and minds to You. So trust in the Eternal One forever, for He is like a great Rock – strong, stable, trustworthy, and lasting.” Isaiah 26:3-4 VOICE
Close your eyes and picture yourself as Daniel. You are very old and just survived a death spiral into an enormous dank pit. Every square inch of your body screams with pain. Freezing night air claws through the tunic cloaking your thin, aged skin. Now, deep, menacing snarls penetrate the darkness around you.
Trembling with shock and cold, you become aware of hot breath huffing against your legs. Your vision begins to adjust to the dim light of the dungeon. You can just make out the silhouette of a large male lion, yellow eyes glow eerily through the shadows. A vice grips your gut as a hoarse whisper escapes, “Huge. They’re huge!”
Breathing heavily, you desperately search for escape but there is none. Eyes squeezed tight, you surrender to what must be, “Be prompt about it.” You wait, “Don’t play with your food!” You wait again. “For pity sake! This is just poor table manners.” Still waiting. But, nothing. No jugular crushing, no pouncing or shredding.
Perplexed, you cautiously open one eye at a time. “What is this?” Sitting directly in front of you, a 400-pound death maker is casually grooming his paw. Your eyes lock. Then, he lets out a yawn, so large it’s actually a bit insulting, “Really? Forgive me, but, in my defense, I was not in charge of the menu.”
Scanning the borders of the pit you count at least two dozen big cats. Some sitting, some snoozing, but none the least bit interested in dinner. “Come on, one of you must be hungry?” Dubious, you conduct an experiment by carefully extending a frail, bruised hand to each lion. No takers. Not even a sniff. Examining your wrinkled appendage, “Hmm, I suppose I am a bit leathery.”
Just then, a curious young lioness approaches; she playfully “boops” your thigh with her head. Startled, you look down and can’t help yourself! Those silky, yellow, ears, “how about a nice scratch!” She rolls her head into your hand with loud, happy purrs, “Ahh, pretty good stuff, isn’t it! I bet supper’s never done that before. No, I bet they haven’t. I bet they haven’t.”
Like thunder, you are struck by a sense of sheer awe. “Am I actually baby talking a lion and smooching her noggin?” Gazing into her eyes, you burst into a belly laugh, “Yes, I am. I most certainly am!”
Between fits of laughter and tear-filled praise, you consider the wonder of the moment – no, of your life! Yet, once more, you are witness, first hand to a grand display of God’s power and salvation. Then, suddenly you are overcome by a flood of exhaustion. You can barely stand, but where to lay down?
The enormous male you saw earlier gently noses your hand. You allow him to support your weight as he leads you to the center of the pit, silver moonlight illuminating the floor. As he lies down you fall into the softness of his chest, resting your head on his golden main. And then as though by some unspoken command, the other lions lie down around you. Their collective heat soothing your frozen, pain wracked body. Drifting to sleep, you realize, “I never felt such peace.”
A MAN OF EXTRAORDINARY SPIRIT
“Daniel distinguished himself above the administrators and satraps because he had an extraordinary spirit, so the king planned to set him over the whole realm.” Daniel 6:3 HCSB
The more I learn about Daniel, the more I am in awe of him. As a Hebrew captive, he endured unimaginable suffering, loss and trauma. As a Babylonian Statesmen, he experienced the highest levels of honor, influence and power. The Bible teaches that loss and success reveal the nature of a person. In both, Daniel proved to be a man of extraordinary spirit.
A person with an extraordinary spirit is a person of great wisdom. Their character is defined by patience and self-control. They are cool headed and very discerning. They are able to carefully evaluate a situation and make prudent decisions accordingly.
Consider what the Bible says about wisdom.
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Proverbs 9:10 NKJV
Daniel had an intimate relationship with Adonai and trusted Him above anything and everyone else. He knew that no matter what he faced God was the solution. Daniel loved God and believed His Word. This was the source of his wisdom, his success and his salvation.
THE VALLEY OF DECISION
“Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the Day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision.” Joel 3:14 HCSB
Symbolically, The Valley of Decision is the place where we determine loyalty. In the valley we weigh our choice carefully and count the cost. Jesus spoke of this with his disciples.
“If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will find it.” Matthew 16:24-25 HCSB
I believe those of us currently enjoying freedom of religion are in the Valley of Decision.
We are in a time of grace to feed freely on the Word of God and build up the nature of Jesus Christ within us. If we choose to squander this time, we will not be ready for what comes next.
Daniel did not squander his time. He was a man of Psalms 119. He delighted in the Word of God.
“How happy are those whose way is blameless, who live according to the law of the LORD! Happy are those who keep His decrees and seek Him with all their heart. They do nothing wrong; they follow His ways.” Psalms 119:1-3 HCSB
Daniel understood that crisis does not create character, it reveals it. By immersing himself in scripture, by devoting himself to knowing the ways and wonder of Most-High God, he was quietly and steadily preparing himself. Preparing for the moment when he would be asked to lay it all on the line.
A MAN OF DETERMINATION
“Daniel determined that he would not defile himself with the kings food or with the wine he drank. So he asked permission from the chief official not to defile himself.” Daniel 1:8 HCSB
Imagine being a traumatized, teenage Daniel. You just witnessed the brutal murder of your family, the decimation of your country and pillaging of the Holy Temple. Now a captive, you are forced on a torturous journey to the murderous home land responsible. The only thing you know, is these people are void of mercy.
Along the way, you learn the ruler of this nation has plans for you. You are to be his counsel and confidant. How can this be real? So, you seek God, only to discover He is asking you to comply and not for the purpose of subterfuge.
No, the God of Israel is asking you to serve authentically and with honor, your mortal enemy. Why? Because it is part of His purpose. Because, in truth, you were born for this exact moment and this is His plan for your life.
All I can say is it’s a good thing the journey took three months. If it were me, I would have needed every moment of that road trip to get my head straight and heart right. Though Daniel was of a strong constitution, I think he needed this time as well. He processed and sorted through his emotions. He also made life defining decisions.
No doubt it was along the sandy, tear-filled path to Babylon, Daniel determined the limits of his loyalty to the king. He would never compromise devotion to God or His Word. Not even to save his life. Instead he would entrust his life to God and stand on the faithfulness of His Word.
“When Daniel learned the document had been signed, he went into his house. The windows in its upstairs room opened toward Jerusalem, and three times a day. He got down on his knees, prayed, and gave thanks to his God, just he had done before.” Daniel 6: 10 CSB
As Daniel knelt in prayer, soldiers stormed in and brought him before Darius. His enemies, filled with deadly jealousy, had conspired against him. A few days prior, they manipulated Darius into passing an evil law. It became illegal to pray to anyone but the king for thirty days. Daniel, of course, refused and took his petitions to God alone, just as he always did.
Darius desperately searched for a way to legally save his friend, but there were no loop-holes. Once a law was set in place, even the king could not change it. As Daniel was led to the lion’s den King Darius said, “May your God you have served so faithfully, rescue you!” Daniel 6:16 VOICE
And we know the rest of the story. While the good king suffered panic filled insomnia, Daniel had a serene nap with his feline companions. The next morning, he was found alive and well, praising the LORD of Hosts!
Daniels life of devotion, integrity and honor provide us a treasure trove of lessons. From his testimony of the lion’s den, we learn our source of peace and courage. That is, be filled on God’s Word, devoted in worship and humble in prayer. God will by no means fail us as we honor Him. Until next time my friends, I leave you with the words of King Darius:
“May your prosperity abound. I issue a decree that in all my royal dominion, people must tremble in fear before the God of Daniel: For He is the living god, and He endures forever; His kingdom will never be destroyed, and His dominion has no end. He rescues and delivers; He performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth, for He has rescued Danial from the power of the lions.” Daniel 6:26-27 HCSB
I am a wife, to the love of my life, Jade Lewis. I am a mother to three beautiful, creative grown children. I am fur mama to two amazing dogs and one ginormous love bundle cat. I am a "Steel Cowgirl" and my iron horse is a gorgeous Indian Scout 60. But most of all, I am a worshiper. I was created specifically for that purpose. I worship the Creator through and by His Son, Jesus Christ. He is my king, my muse, my passion.