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Lion Around with Dan

Suffering for refusing to obey authority!

The Backdrop (stuff you might want explained)

Bible Politics and Power
One of the many fascinating things about the cultures of the Bible is their ideas concerning politics and power. Deception and lying were (and still are) common practices in order to guard one's power. There were 8 different ways they used deception, but the one used in the sketch is "false imputation." This was when you attacked the honor of another to save your own honor. In modern terms: the best defense is a good offense! What must have surprised these men as they sought to discredit Daniel was his character and integrity (unheard of in culture where good liars were respected). You can see why they had to attack his only weakness - his religion.
The Law of the Medes and Persians
The Medo-Persian Empire had a very unusual and inflexible rule in law making. To discourage multiple, contradicting decrees and laws, they set up a system by which the king could make "royal laws." The "up" side to this kind of law was that it couldn't be changed or added onto until it took effect. This forced the king to think through such laws before they were made. King Darius wished he'd done a little more thinking! (Daniel 6:14)
The Lion's Den
Throughout ancient history records, there are references to hunting lions as the sport of kings, and even keeping lions as pets. Rameses II had a pet lion that went into war with him. Lions were kept in large kennels off a large space (the den) . Usually the den portion of the structure as reached from a trap door in the top (much safer than having a lion jump in your face as you opened a door). (Daniel 6:23) says Dan was taken "up out of the den."
No Proof?
Experts wishing to disprove the Bible point out that there has never been any visual evidence found that a lion's den was used as a form of punishment. What they "forget" to say is that a sentence of "trial by ordeal" (putting someone up against another human or predatory animal in order to determine their innocence - if you lived you were innocent) has many proofs of precedent in ancient records. By the reaction of the king coming the next day to the den, it would seem that was the kind of sentence Dan was under!
Enemies Thrown In
The other reason we know this was a "trial by ordeal" was what happened to the men who made the accusations against Daniel. In a "trial by ordeal," it would make sense that his accusers would face the same fate he did to decide who was telling the truth. By the reaction of the lions, it was very clear to everyone who was innocent.
Families in the Den?
In a "trial by ordeal," your whole family was involved. So why did Daniel go in by himself? Okay, you caught me. Early in Dan's story (Daniel 1) , he's taken to the king's palace and trained for three years. The common practice was for all males (except nobles) in the palace to have their manhood removed. We have to assume that Daniel was a eunuch and he never had a granddaughter! I used that approach in the sketch to allow you to see how the old Jewish storytellers practiced their craft.

Take it to Heart (stuff you can apply to your life)

Dan refused to obey the authority over him! Cool! I can't wait to get to school or on the job! First off, let's see Daniel's story at the lion's den in the light of an earlier story:
Pass the Veggies (Daniel 1:3-14)
Can you imagine being Dan and walking into the palace of the greatest king of his time? He was in a godless nation far from family and homeland. He knew he was going to be commanded to do things which were against Scriptures, "but Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself..." (Daniel 1:8)

Did he tell everyone what he wasn't going to do? To the Hebrew way of thinking, the heart is the seat of , the head is the seat of , and the bowels are the seat of . Notice that he displayed a mature attitude to those in authority. His actions/attitudes brought him into with the master of the king's eunuchs!

Later, he is asked to eat food offered to idols. Does he refuse, strike a protest, have a "sit in"? No, Daniel discerned that the basic intention of the eunuch was to make him and , not to make him do evil! Learning to understand what those in authority are really trying to is essential! This is especially true when your authority is asking you to do something which goes against the Scriptures or moral convictions!

What does Dan do? He comes up with a creative alternative! He proposes an experiment (pretty smart thing to do with a bunch of intellectual guys) ! It is successful and the basic intention of the eunuch is served as well as Daniel's concern about defiling himself. Does that sound like a rebel? Does that sound like a disobedient person without respect for authority? An attitude of will increase your ability to design a alternative, but a spirit of resistance stifles it!

Disobeying Dan

It's easy to convince yourself that you're suffering for Christ when you disobey commands that violate God's Word (and yes adults, you do this too). But unless you've taken the following steps with our authority, you are only deceiving yourself!

A. Steps before disobeying:
1. Check Your Attitude (If you have a reputation of disloyalty, self-righteousness, pride, laziness, bitterness, or dishonesty then you shouldn't disobey.)
2. Clear Your Conscience (If you display the above attitudes you need to clear those with God and acknowledge the wrong to your authority.)
3. Discern Basic Intentions (Why are they asking you to do this? Does God have bigger goals through this as He molds your character?)
4. Design Creative Alternatives (This has already been discussed.)
5. Appeal to Your Authority servant.HTM#000 TARGET=newWindow onClick="openWindow('Titus','stats with a spirit of a servant','000');return false">(This stats with a spirit of a servant, taking time to explain your personal conviction, presenting your creative alternative, and how it will accomplish the goal of your authority, then leave the final decision to that person. If more churches did this there would be less friction!)
6. Give God Time to Change Your Authority. (This allows God to put pressure on that person, which may mean it will put more pressure on you. Begin to consider how God wants you to respond to the decision.)
B. Only when you've fully applied these 6 steps [like Daniel did] are you ready for the final step!
7. Suffer for not doing what is wrong. (Daniel was willing to be killed rather than cease worshipping (Daniel 6:12-16) The disciples were willing to be rejected by family rather than deny Christ (Matthew 10:32-39) The disciples proclaimed the Gospel when forbidden by government officials (Acts 4:19)

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