Friday, October 25, 2013

Daniel 6: Daniel Kept His Integrity


Dan 6:10-24 Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. Then these men went as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help. So they went to the king and spoke to him about his royal decree: "Did you not publish a decree that during the next thirty days anyone who prays to any god or man except to you, O king, would be thrown into the lions' den?" The king answered, "The decree stands — in accordance with the laws of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed." Then they said to the king, "Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, O king, or to the decree you put in writing. He still prays three times a day." When the king heard this, he was greatly distressed; he was determined to rescue Daniel and made every effort until sundown to save him. Then the men went as a group to the king and said to him, "Remember, O king, that according to the law of the Medes and Persians no decree or edict that the king issues can be changed." So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions' den. The king said to Daniel, "May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!" A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the rings of his nobles, so that Daniel's situation might not be changed. Then the king returned to his palace and spent the night without eating and without any entertainment being brought to him. And he could not sleep. At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions' den. When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, "Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?" Daniel answered, "O 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, O king." The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God. At the king's command, the men who had falsely accused Daniel were brought in and thrown into the lions' den, along with their wives and children. And before they reached the floor of the den, the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones. 

Having appointed Daniel as one of the three administrators overseeing the 120 satraps of the kingdom, Daniel so distinguished himself by his gifts and integrity that the Persian king Darius wanted to promote him over the whole kingdom. This created jealousy and strife among the other administrators and the satraps. They laid a trap for Daniel by asking Darius to pass a decree to punish anyone who prayed to any other god than Darius himself in the next 30 days. They knew that Daniel prayed to God three times daily. When Daniel knew that the decree was signed, he went home to pray as usual with his windows opened: "Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before" (Dan 6:10). Daniel knew that it was God who promoted him because he was faithful to his God. He was not about to compromise his conviction to stay in power.

This gave his enemies an opportunity to accuse him and Darius then realized he was manipulated by Daniel's enemies to sabotage Daniel. He was greatly distressed but could do nothing to reverse the law of the Medes and Persians, which could not be revoked. So, Darius had Daniel thrown into the lions' den: "May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!" (6:16). Sure enough, God shut the lions' mouths and the lions left him alone. When morning came, the king went over to the den to check if Daniel was still alive and was relieved to hear Daniel's voice: "O 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, O king" (6:21-22). The king then ordered the accusers and their families thrown into the lions' den and the lions immediately overpowered them and crushed their bones.

Daniel, the Jewish "foreign talent" of his days, became the target of the locals' "office politics" because he was about to be promoted above them. But for Daniel, position and power meant nothing to him except keeping faith and integrity before God. But sadly, sometime when we think we have arrived at our current position in the organizational hierarchy by virtue of our own talents, we become party to office politics. But Daniel was above the political fray and refused to change his behavior when his very life was threatened by politics. He stood by his values and refused to compromise his faith.

God has called us into the workplace not just to gain prosperity and power for ourselves but to be salt and light by transforming the moral and spiritual context of our workplace. If we are party to office politics, we will lose our saltiness and our ability to be the light in darkness. May Daniel's story inspires us to keep our faith and our values -- even in unfriendly environment. It's better to lose our job than to lose our integrity.

Father, thank You for Daniel's example of standing by his faith and conviction. May You constantly remind us that You have placed us in ungodly environment to transform it, not to conform with it. Amen.

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