Rediscovering Hope in the Pit of Hopelessness

hopeKingdom against Kingdom

1.  All government is insecure: "So that the king would suffer no loss" (v. 2). The trust of public office was used to advance personal interests. But , "Daniel distinguished himself" {v. 3). He was different not only from the satraps but also from the other governors "because an excellent spirit was in him" (v. 3).

2. The perpetual conflict of the kingdom of darkness against the kingdom of light, the kingdom of God.  The unchangeable law of the Medes and the Persians was used by devious men to attempt to overcome the laws of God’s kingdom by which the righteous are ultimately vindicated

Daniel is a man of "excellent spirit" (v 3)? It has been said that few great men finish well. That was certainly not so in Daniel’s case. Psalm 92:12-15.  Temptations to compromise are never isolated incidents in our spiritual life but are part of a larger strategy of Satan against us (Luke 4:13; 22:28; 2 Cor. 2:11).  Daniel’s experience runs counter to what we often assume is characteristic of Christian experience. In this respect it is like Christ’s. His greatest test came toward the end of His spiritual pil­grimage, not at its beginning.

3.  Opposition to God will always include self-deceit. It is rooted in the lie that has been exchanged for the truth of God (Rom. 1:25). Darius fell to the temptation and "signed the written decree" (v. 9). He too exchanged the truth of God for the lie. That lie was the first one audibly uttered after the world’s creation: "You will be like God" (Gen. 3:5).

4. All conflict in our life is the expression of the greater conflict between the kingdoms of darkness and light. Daniel 7-12; 1 Pet. 5:8.

Faithful unto Death

The forces of hell are at work here!  How would we feel if prayer were banned for 30 days?

The lifestyle of the kingdom of God is contrasted once more with the kingdom of darkness. Daniel: He was a man of prayer.

1.  It was his custom to pray "with his windows open toward Jerusalem" (v 10).

2.  Daniel’s prayer life was characterized by discipline and regu­larity. (v 16).

3.  Daniel’s praying included both thanksgiving and interces­sion (v 10-11).

There is a uncanny resemblance to an event centuries later (Matt. 26:59-60). Their efforts to pre­vent the Resurrection were in vain—just as were the efforts of the governors and satraps of Babylon to prevent the "resurrection" of Daniel from the den of lions. Work done for the kingdom of God, however, is never in vain in the Lord (1 Cor. 15:58).

Hope in the Pit

The early church saw in this a foretaste of the resurrection of Christ. Daniel experienced nothing less than the powers of the age to  come (Heb. 6:5). That is why (as in 3:27) Daniel’s deliverance is so wonderfully complete: "No injury whatever was found on him, because he believed in his God" (v 23). The power of God that ensured that not a bone of Christ’s body was broken guarded Daniel, too, in order that he would be a powerful testimony to the coming Saviour. A servant of God is immortal until the work has been completed.

“The deliverance of Eve’s seed is always accompanied by the bruising of the head of the serpent (Gen. 3:15). Christ delivers those who were subject to a lifelong fear of death by destroying the one who had the power of death (Heb. 2:14-15). The dark side to Daniel’s deliverance is the judgment that falls on those who had sought to destroy the kingdom of God. They and their entire families, even wives and children, were cast into the den of lions and immediately attacked and devoured. Herodotus informs us that such punishment of entire families was meted out according to Persian law. It was a terrible end. Their gods were unable to deliver them from the lions, whereas Daniel’s God had delivered him. The One who was in Daniel was stronger than the one who was in the world (cf. 1 John 4:4).”

Daniel’s God: He is the "living God". He is a "steadfast" God. His kingdom is indestructible and "shall endure to the end,". The kingdom of God "cannot be shaken" (Heb. 12:28). Daniel’s God is a “saving God” (v 28).

Cell Outline

Read Daniel 6:1-28

More than any time in history there seems to be a famine of character. We need examples of people who say what they believe and then live it out. Character is about holding convictions that honour God and letting those deep beliefs shape all we say and do … even when no one is watching! True character is about staying true to what we believe even when there are consequences.

1. What do you learn about Daniel’s character, lifestyle, and I faith as you read this chapter?

2. What do you learn about the character and faith of Darius?

3. In v 1-9, the political leaders first tried to find a flaw in Daniel’s character. What did their research turn up? When attacking Daniel’s character did not work, how did they use the strength of his character against him?

4. What are some of the cultural trends and norms that can keep us from living with godly character?

6. Describe someone you have known who exemplifies consistent, godly character in every aspect of their life. How has their example inspired you?

Daniel loved God. His faith was real and deep. By chapter 6, he has been a political exile in Babylon for about sixty-five years! No longer a young man refusing to eat rich food from Nebuchadnezzar’s table, he is now well into his seventies or older. Daniel has developed life disciplines and practices that grow out of a heart that is connected to his God, so three times a day he gets on his knees to pray. You can almost hear his old joints cracking as he lowers his elderly frame to the ground. His window is always open as he faces toward Jerusalem, the childhood home he has dreamed about for almost seven decades. This is his habit… and everybody knows it!

7. Thinking about Daniel 6:10-15, name some disciplines or habits of faith that help you express your love and devotion to Jesus.

8. What is a spiritual discipline you have wanted to develop, but it seems difficult to get it going, or keep it going, in your life?

9. Next term, how might your cell group become a place of prayer, encouragement, and accountability that would propel you forward in developing this discipline of devotion?

“It is better for me to perish and obtain Jesus Christ than to rule over the ends of the earth. Let me win through to the light; that done I shall be complete. Let me suffer as my Lord suffered. “
Ignatius of Antioch, killed by wild beasts in 107 AD

“This is the end, but for me it is the beginning of life”.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, executed in a Nazi death camp

10. How did Daniel’s witness, through actions and words, impact Darius (Daniel 6:16-28)?

Daniel was trapped by a deceitful plan hatched by work colleagues, other administrators whom he had surpassed in authority. Describe ways people today might suffer persecution or personal attacks if they hold to their Christian faith without compromise.

· In a home that does not embrace the Christian faith

· In the workplace

· At school or college

· In a community setting

11. What steps can a follower of Jesus take to stand strong and be a witness in times of persecution and pressure?

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