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Lion Lunch

Key References: Daniel 6; Prophets and Kings, chap. 44, pp. 539-548; The Bible Story (1994), vol. 6, pp. 55-59; Our Beliefs nos. 8, 3, 22

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“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise in God— I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” (Psalm 56:3, 4).

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We worship God by trusting our lives to His care.

Have you ever been tricked? How did you feel? Foolish, angry? In our story today a king was tricked into hurting his best friend, Daniel. Daniel was not worried. He trusted in God, and God did not let him down.

Daniel was an old man. Many things had happened since he’d left his home in Jerusalem as a teenager. From the beginning he had promised to trust in God, and God had never let him down. God had protected him and his three friends. But now things had changed again.

King Belshazzar, Nebuchadnezzar’s grandson, did not fear God. During his reign, Babylon was conquered by the Medes and Persians. Now Darius was king. Darius had put Daniel in charge of the government. They had become friends, and from time to time King Darius and Daniel would talk about God.

Not everyone was pleased with this arrangement. Some of the other rulers felt that they should have been given the top job. They watched Daniel closely for a reason to turn the king against him. But the only thing they could find against him was his loyalty to his God.

They talked about it, schemed and planned, and finally came up with the perfect idea. They went to the king.

“King Darius, we know that you are a great king. Because you are so great we feel that it is only right that all your subjects worship you and you alone for a month.”

The king listened to the plan without suspecting any evil plot.

“What could possibly be a better way to prove their respect and allegiance than bowing down to you and you alone for a month? And if they don’t, we think they should be thrown to the lions,” the officials replied.

The king began to beam. This was a flattering proposal. He signed his name with an extra flourish. The officials stumbled over one another as they hurried from the throne room, barely containing their joy.

Daniel read the decree and sighed. He knew that it was a trap, but he did not hesitate. He went to his house, opened his window, looked out toward Jerusalem, and knelt down to pray. He had always prayed at this window three times a day. He was not going to stop now. He prayed for courage and wisdom, and thanked God for His protection.

The officials posted themselves where they could watch inconspicuously. This was too easy. There he was, they thought, praying as usual. They looked at each other triumphantly as they hurried back with the report to the king.

“O king, do you remember the decree you signed yesterday? Someone has already broken it.” They tried to hide their glee behind solemn faces.

“Who?” shouted Darius. He had become enthusiastic about the plan.

“Daniel,” came the controlled reply. Suddenly

Darius realized that he had been tricked. He began to pace in anger and frustration. How could he rescue his friend?

The officials got their courage back and reminded the king of his decree. “The law is the law,” they said, “and it cannot be changed. Daniel must be thrown to the lions.”

Darius reluctantly sent a message for Daniel to be brought to the lions’ den.

“May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!” said the king (Daniel 6:16). Daniel calmly submitted as he was thrown into the pit, and it was sealed with the king’s seal.

That night Darius could not sleep. He tossed and turned. Early the next morning he ran to the lions’ den. “Daniel,” he called. “Has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?” (verse 20).

“May the king live forever! My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, Your Majesty,” came the calm and assured reply (verses 21, 22).

Darius beamed from ear to ear. What an amazing God Daniel worshipped!

Darius quickly commanded that Daniel be removed from the lions’ den and his accusers be thrown down in his place. This time the lions didn’t hesitate. They were not going to refuse lunch a second time.

Darius sent out a second decree. This time he gave glory to God.

“I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel.

“For he is the living God and he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end. He rescues and he saves; he performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions” (verses 26, 27).

Daniel’s God is our God too. We can go anywhere He leads with confidence in His loving care.