Monday, January 24, 2011

The Courage of Daniel

Daniel was a man of great courage. In Daniel 1-6 we read about Daniel's courage to stand up to three tyrant Kings - King Nebuchadnezzar, King Belshazzar (Nebuchadnezzar’s son), and King Darius. For the first two, Daniel interpreted dreams and told them of their future downfall because they did not follow God. When it came to King Darius, Daniel would not obey commands to stop praying to God.  Daniel was thrown into the lions den. Here is something that may surprise you - Daniel's courage didn't come in the lion's den. It came before the lion's den.

When we think of Daniel, we think of how courageous he was while in the lion's den. Every illustration I've ever seen drawn is of Daniel in the middle of the lion's den.  I've never seen an illustration of Daniel standing before the kings. Why?  Spending the night with the ferocious lions and coming out unharmed sounds more courageous. 

But here is the strange thing - the Bible gives no insight to his night in the lion's den. It just says he came out unharmed. What the Bible does give us is over 150 verses before the lion's den about how courageous Daniel was. He told mighty kings that they would fall because of not following the true God.  He stood up in the face of evil men and proclaimed God.  He could care less of being promoted by the kings (even though this happened). His courage was developed and displayed before kings and a nation.  Big deal if his courage was displayed before animals. What kind of testimony is that? Who were the animals going to tell? Now, I'm not belittling Daniel's courage during this time or the scriptures.  I'm simply saying that if he had not displayed courage and faith in God before men, he would have never lasted the lion's den.  God didn't see fit to explain the night of the lion's den in great detail. Scripture doesn't give the play-by-play of what happened that night. What God did see fit to explain was what Daniel did that led up to the lion's den. God's word tells us of the courage Daniel had before men. These men, in turn, told of Daniel's devotion and love for the Lord. These kings saw God's mighty power displayed and knew He alone was Lord. The lions told no one (well, I'm sure the men that accused Daniel of wrong who were thrown into the same lion's den were trying to explain their way out of their situation to the lions - oh wait, the Bible says that when they were thrown into the lion's den they were devoured before they hit the ground. Guess the lions didn't hear it from them.)

It is kind of like this. What if I didn't have courage to stand up for the Lord and serve Him before men for years? Then, one day, I survived a ferocious lion's den.  All that would be good for is a TV spot on "When animals didn't attack" and an impressive story to tell your grand kids.  But that didn't demonstrate Godly courage and faith. Godly courage and faith are demonstrated and lived out among men - especially those in opposition to the Lord. Daniel lived wholeheartedly for the Lord and wasn't afraid of the Kings or what they could do to him.  Daniel told the kings about their near end and how God would never end.  He prayed and sought God at all times. He was in holy awe and reverential fear of God, not man. The point of the story is not the lion's den - it is Daniel's devotion the Lord in how he courageously lived out his faith!

Most of us would like, in theory, a lion's den experience. Now that would show everyone how courageous and devoted to God we are. Right? That would show the world our faith in God.  But here is my question? What are you doing with the days leading up to the lion's den? What if the lion's den experience never comes for you? Here is what is guaranteed:  the many opportunities to stand courageously for the Lord before men. Those opportunities occur over a lifetime. The lion's den was one night. 

How are you living out your faith day-to-day? Are you courageous before men? Are you telling the truth of God's word and sharing your faith in Him in the presence of real men who desperately need Him?  Or, are you deceived, waiting for the lion's den that may never come?  And, if it does, you won't stand up for Him surrounded by "lions" because your lifestyle didn't demonstrate it prior to being thrown into the lion's den.
Live your life daily in courage and faith for the Lord. Stand up to those who oppose Him. Trust in Him to protect you.  Speak His word with boldness.  Then, when the lion's den comes, you'll not be afraid.  If God was with you many times before, He'll be with you in the lion's den.  Daniel's courage came in the 150+ verses before the lion's den. Our courage comes the same way.  Have the courage of Daniel. The Bible says, "The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion." - Proverbs 28:1.

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