OK, here’s a Bible trivia quiz for you. Ready? Would you categorize the Daniel in the Lion’s Den story as:
(a) A Children’s Story
(b) A Story For Youth
(c) A Story For Old Folks
(d) A Story For Feline Dieticians
I’d venture to guess that you chose A, “a children’s story”. Why? Because if we were to conduct a poll, Daniel in the Den would probably rank among kid’s all time favorite bible stories – right up there with Jonah in the whale, animals in the ark and wee Zacchaeus in the tree.
Of course, scripture holds forth truth for all the above categories (OK, maybe not feline dieticians). But I’d like to share my reasons for picking C, “A Story for Old Folks”.
Did you know that Daniel was around 80 years old when he was tossed to the lions? Most men his age are barely able to sit in the den and watch the Lions. But Daniel was behind enemy lines, in the trenches for God, paying a heavy price for his faith and, in the midst of it all, receiving awesome revelations of things to come.
He is an inspiration for all of us older (and not so older) folks to “finish the race” well, as the Apostle Paul would say.
Here are four truths that will help us break the finish line tape with a strong stride. Daniel the octogenarian glorified God by:
(1) Maintaining a robust prayer life. Why was Daniel thrown to the lions anyway? Because he was a man of prayer. His crime? He refused to kneel before the state sanctioned idol. Three times a day he had the custom of entering his prayer closet, turning his face toward Jerusalem and worshiping the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. What did he do when he heard of the decree that everyone must bow and pray to the image? He did as he had always done. He knelt before his Lord. His relationship with God was more important than anything – even his own life.
(2) Resisting the world. Daniel knew the implications of his civil disobedience. He would be thrown to the lions. Yet he chose to serve God rather than man. If the law of the land meant that he would die for staying true to God, then so be it. His radical faith was richly rewarded. God miraculously delivered him from the Persian lion’s den, just as he had miraculously delivered him from the Babylonian fiery furnace.
(3) Revealing Christ. Daniel is a wonderful example of an Old Testament missionary. The two most powerful kings of his day were pagans through and through. Yet both Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and Darius king of Persia gave glory to God as a direct result of Daniels ministry. He had an understanding of the coming Messiah as rich as any Old Testament prophet. Even the details of the lion’s den point in a marvelous way to Christ. It was Daniel’s “tomb”. A large stone was rolled over it. It was sealed shut by the king. At the first light of dawn, Darius ran to the tomb to see what had happened. Daniel emerged victorious from the tomb. Do these details remind you of our marvelous Lord?
(4) Performing his demanding job at the highest level. It has been said that in the kingdom of God there is neither retirement nor unemployment. If you have breath in your lungs, there is always a way and means to serve God. Daniel served with distinction in the administrations of Babylon and Medo Persia – two of the most powerful nations the world has ever known. His faithful service lasted many decades – until he was well into his eighties.
Sociologists and demographics say that America has a large and growing “graying population”. That can be a good thing – especially if the “graying population of saints” resolves to live like Daniel – glorifying God with audacious faith until their final breath.
Won’t you join me in praying the prayer that has been on my heart lately? “Lord, may my latter years be more fruitful than the first. Amen.”