Daniel was one of God’s people, but he was living in a strange place where hardly anyone knew God.
Daniel served King Darius and was one of his best workers. Though he was usually happy to serve the king, today was a sad day. A new law declared people could only pray to King Darius for the next month, and that wasn’t the worst part. If anyone prayed to another god, they’d become food for lions! We shouldn’t pray to anyone but God, thought Daniel. Will I obey God, even if it means I might die? Daniel slowly walked to his usual spot, bent his tired knees, bowed his head, and began to pray. Some of the king’s servants were waiting outside. They didn’t like Daniel very much and were looking for a reason to tattle on him. Skipping up the palace steps, they sang out, “King Darius! Daniel broke your law! Throw him to the lions!”
The king walked Daniel down to the lions’ den with slumped shoulders and said, “Daniel, I never wanted this for you. I hope your God will protect you.” The ferocious beasts growled as Daniel stepped inside. God, even if I die, I trust You. Daniel’s heart leapt wildly as the lions licked their lips, getting ready for their dinner. One lion stepped forward to attack. Daniel sucked in his breath and closed his eyes, waiting to feel the crunch of teeth. But it never came. Daniel opened his eyes and his jaw dropped. An angel of the Lord was stopping the lions! God! You’re protecting me! he thought. Daniel slowly sat down with his back against the cold, hard wall. All night long, he said thank you to God while watching the angel hold the lions’ mouths closed. Hours later, there was pounding on the stone door and King Darius cried out, “Daniel?! Did your God save you?” Daniel shouted back, “He did! The lions wanted to eat me, but an angel muzzled their man-eating mouths!” Daniel came out of the lions’ home not torn to shreds but in one perfect piece. The king and Daniel hugged and laughed. King Darius quickly passed a new law that said, “Worship the God of Daniel! He’s the true God!”
Imagine asking yourself, Do I disobey God and stay safe, or do I obey and get thrown to the lions? What do you think you would do? There was a night that Jesus had to make a decision like this. He was in a garden, praying to God. He bowed low to the ground with tears streaming down His face, thinking, Do I obey God? Except for Him, it wasn’t, Maybe I’ll die. It was certain. Not a quick death like being thrown to lions, but a slow, painful, and humiliating death on a cross. Jesus chose to obey, knowing that if He did, He would have to die. For us to be protected, He had to be torn to shreds. It was the only way that He could rescue all of God’s people and we could forever cry out, “Worship God! He is the true God!”
If God knew He was going to send an angel to stop the lions’ mouths, why did He let Daniel be put in the lions’ den in the first place?
Daniel decided to obey God even though people around him didn’t worship God and obeying was the harder choice. Have you ever had to make a decision to obey God when it was hard? What was that like? If not, what do you think you would do?
This Advent devotional resource was produced by The Austin Stone Community Church in Austin, TX. The original resource can be found here.