- Daniel 6:19-21 (NKJV)
Over the last few weeks we've talked about how Daniel, who the King called Belteshazzar, could read King Nebuchadnezzar's dreams and how his three close associates were saved from death in the fiery furnace by the deep devotion of Daniel and the three to the mercy and grace of God. It seemed to sink in on the old King until he began to think about his power and self=glory and he fell back to his old ways. The result was that his people suffered and he lost his mind, ending up living like wild animals, eating out of a bowl in chains and his son, Belshazzar, took power.
Well, the son fell into the same trap of self-power and glory and ultimately dreamed of things like his father that he couldn't interpret, nor could his court mystics. But he was reminded that Daniel was still with them and he called him for help. Daniel explained that he was guilty of the same actions as his father and the gifts he was given would be taken from him. Very soon, King Belshazzar died and the Medes and Persians captured Babylon, their first leader being Darius.
Darius heard of Daniel and his high place for a Jew in the Babylonian government structure and his gift of foretelling the future from dreams. He developed a fondness for him and that infuriated his court, enraged by jealousy. They devised a scheme whereby Daniel would be accused of breaking the King's religious dictates by proposing a thirty day period of no prayer to any higher authority than the King. They knew that Daniel could not accomplish that since his Jewish routine was to pray three times daily to God in praise for His love and devotion.
When the King's ministers caught him in the act, they immediately told Darius and reminded him that the penalty for disobeying the edict was death in a pit of lions. King Darius summoned Daniel. who told the truth concerning his actions and was immediately condemned and taken to the pit of lions and thrown in. He told Daniel before he was put in the chamber that his God would save him.
King Darius couldn't sleep that night, upset because his counselors had used the law as a trick against Daniel, so he rushed to the pit in the wee hours of the morning. He yelled out to Daniel, hoping his faith had saved him. And he was relieved when Daniel answered that he was alive amid calmly sleeping lions who were controlled by God.
Daniel went on to serve King Darius and then his predecessor, King Cyrus the Great, who would later be called upon by Jehovah to free the Israelites and let Daniel lead them back to their beloved Jerusalem. God once again worked in strange ways, using a wise and just King Cyrus, though a non-believer, to let His people go. It's an amazing story and one that is oh, so clear in what it means.