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Lesson 6: An Ancient Death Decree *

Introduction: Remember last week that Daniel was promoted to the number three position in the Babylonian empire just minutes before it all collapsed before the military onslaught of the Persians? "Number two" (Belshazzar) was immediately killed by the Persians. Imagine being Daniel. No wonder he told Belshazzar he could keep his promotion! How do things turn out for Daniel? Is God still looking out for him? Let's jump into Daniel 6 and find out!

  1. Bouncing Back

    1. Read Daniel 6:1-2. Daniel survives the Persians! Why did Darius reorganize the kingdom?

      1. Has your company been purchased by another company? How did you feel when a reorganization was announced?

      2. How does Daniel end up in the new reorganization? (He loses some "rank" (from number three), but he certainly has a very powerful position.)

    2. Read Daniel 6:3-4. Why would the king plan to promote Daniel while his fellow administrators and subordinates plot against him? (Their interests were just the opposite. The king wanted the best person in the position and the others wanted to personally be in charge.)

      1. Read Ecclesiastes 4:4. Adam Smith, a very famous free-market economist, argued that when people are left free to promote their own best interests, they end up benefitting everyone. Would Solomon agree?

        1. Is there good envy and bad envy? (If you work hard because you want to keep up with your neighbor, that seems to be the positive use of envy. If you plot to harm your successful neighbor, as is happening to Daniel, that is an example of bad envy.)

      2. Notice that the king set up three administrators, one of whom is Daniel. The other two administrators plot against Daniel. Has anything like this ever happened to you at work?

      3. How is work going for Daniel when the administrators vote on what to do? (The vote would be two to one against Daniel's ideas I would guess. Perhaps the king has noticed this problem and that is his motive for promoting Daniel.)

    3. Would your fellow workers be able to say the same of you as was said of Daniel "he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent?"

      1. Does what Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 4:4 apply to Daniel? (Read Ephesians 6:5-8. The world may work hard and produce goods out of envy. However, God's people work hard and produce goods out of their allegiance to God.)

    4. Read Daniel 6:5. How did the other leaders know about Daniel's God?

      1. Do you think Daniel's race had anything to do with this plotting?

  2. The Trap

    1. Read Daniel 6:6-7. Is this "all agreed" a true statement? (Obviously not! Daniel is one of the administrators and he surely did not agree to this.)

    2. Read Daniel 6:8-9. If the administrators knew about Daniel's religious beliefs, do you think that King Darius knew about them? (Since he planned to make Daniel his number one assistant, I would be shocked to hear that he did not know about Daniel's religious beliefs.)

      1. If Darius knew about Daniel, why would he issue such a decree? (Review Daniel 6:7. Do you see the evil track of the minds of these other administrators? They attack Daniel based purely on his religious beliefs. They persuade the king to enter this decree by appealing to the king's ego.)

      2. Should the king have remembered the problem this would create for Daniel? (Our lesson, Monday, points out that King Darius might have been focused on the Babylonian priests who acted as mediators for their gods, thus the reference to worshiping "man" in verse 7. This may have been presented to him as a plan to encourage "religious patriotism" in the newly conquered people. Thus, the king may not have thought of the impact on Daniel at all.)

  3. Daniel's Response

    1. Read Daniel 6:10-11. Now read Matthew 6:6. If the New Testament had been written, would Daniel have acted differently?

      1. Read Matthew 17:27. Jesus advises a course which avoids giving offense to those who do not share our religious beliefs.

      2. Read Romans 14:22. When it comes to debatable matters of food and drink, Paul tells you to keep your views "between yourself and God."

      3. The point of Daniel's prayer was the prayer and not the position of the shutters. Should Daniel have prayed with his shutters open?

        1. If being thrown in the lions' den was on your mind, how would you have decided this debatable religious issue?

        2. What argument can you make for Daniel's decision?

        3. What argument can you make against Daniel's position?

      4. Notice in Daniel 6:10 the phrase "just as he had done before." What point is being made by Daniel in writing this? (Daniel was not going to change his worship routine because of this new law.)

        1. Would it have been "sin" for Daniel to have changed his routine and closed his shutters before praying?

  4. The Charges

    1. Read Daniel 6:11-12. Why did the men go "as a group" to watch Daniel pray?

      1. Did they need witnesses? Would Daniel deny what he was doing?

      2. Why ask the king to confirm the text of the law before reporting Daniel's violation? (These verses give us a window into the jealous and cowardly thinking of Daniel's enemies. They are afraid to individually stand up against Daniel. They must think that the king would favor Daniel, that is why they "trap" the king by first having him affirm the text of the new law.)

    2. Read Daniel 6:13-14. How is Daniel described? (He is one of the Jews who was formerly a slave. Daniel cannot shake this "smear." Remember last week Belshazzar started his conversation with Daniel with this same insult. (Daniel 5:13))

      1. Why would Daniel's enemies start out with this particular insult? (Again, we have a window into their minds. They are annoyed Daniel, their boss, is Jewish, and not from their county. They want to highlight the fact that he is "different." It is professional jealousy, and religious and racial disdain.)

      2. Had the king thought of Daniel when he issued his decree? (This is something we discussed earlier. This makes clear that the king had not considered the impact on Daniel.)

      3. Compare the attitude of King Darius with King Nebuchadnezzar? (Darius' heart was with Daniel. He was not offended by the law violation or the offense to his own stature as "a god." Nebuchadnezzar, as revealed in Daniel 3:13-15, is personally insulted that the Hebrews would not worship his god.)

  5. The Conflict Between Good and Evil

    1. Read Daniel 6:15-16. When you face trouble, to whom do you first turn? (Daniel has tremendous personal authority. He has the king, the most powerful person in the empire, behind him. All the power and authority of the world cannot save Daniel. The same is true for you.)

      1. Did King Darius do the right thing by ordering Daniel to be thrown to the lions, and leaving it in God's hands?

      2. Did King Darius violate his own decree? Is the last part of verse 16 a prayer to God?

      3. What parallel do you see between King Darius and God? (There is no lasting freedom without the "rule of law." Darius "gave up" Daniel to great danger because he upheld the law over his personal preferences. God the Father "gave up" Jesus, because He upheld the law over His personal preference not to have Jesus suffer torture.)

    2. Read Daniel 6:17-18. Is this how it was for God the Father while Jesus was here on earth? (The answer is beyond me. God is not like Darius in that God knows the future. In Genesis 22:12 we find God stating that He did not know how Abraham would choose. I have two theories. First, I think that our lives are like a chess game. God knows every possible "move" that you and I can take and He knows the consequences of those moves. That allows Him to know the future without knowing how we will choose. Second, I believe that God can move around in time, and therefore, He can know how choices will be made if He chooses. The real answer is a mystery to me and these are only my theories.)

    3. Read Daniel 6:19-22. Why was Daniel saved from the lions? Do you agree with Daniel's statement of the reasons why he was saved?

    4. Read Daniel 6:23. What reason is given here for Daniel being saved from the lions? How does it compare with the reasons stated in verse 22? (In verse 23 it says trust in God saved Daniel. In verse 22 it says Daniel's innocence (his works) saved Daniel.)

      1. Can both be right?

    5. Read Daniel 6:24. How were the accusations against Daniel false?

      1. Recall that these men worked in a group for safety. How did that group safety idea work out?

    6. Read Daniel 6:25-28. Who wins? (God, again. So does Daniel.)

      1. How does God win? (Through partnership with the faithful Daniel.)

      2. Would it have been better for Daniel to have closed his shutters?

    7. Friend, Daniel's personal authority could not save him. Having the king as his ally could not save him. Only God in heaven could save Daniel. Will you keep that in mind the next time you are in trouble? (I trust the next time you are in trouble you can say, like Daniel, "I am completely innocent as the source of my trouble!")

  6. Next week: Daniel's History Lesson.
* Copr. 2004, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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