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What Exiles Know (Part 2)

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I don’t know how many times I was called a “mama’s boy” while I was growing up; more than I can count, I know that. “Mama’s boy” was thrown at me as some sort of insult, a slur with some pejorative connotation.
I never took it as an insult. It never struck me as a bad thing. For one, I am my mom’s boy. She’s my mom and I’m her son. What’s more, my mom’s awesome—there’s not a single negative to being a “mama’s boy” if your mama is Jan Case.
“Mama’s boy” never upset me. Being called a “mama’s boy” never did bother me. It seemed to be the best some of the less intelligent bullies could come up with; I thought, “Well, they’re trying as hard as they can. I’ll just give ‘em that one. Poor guys can’t come up with anything besides the obvious. They think that verbalizing the fact that I’m related to my mom is an insult...”
I’m a “mama’s boy” and proud of it. I make no apology for it. Feel free to call me a “mama’s boy”; it’s not an insult. In fact, I wear it as a badge of honor. It’s who I am.
>Daniel wasn’t called “mama’s boy”, at least as far as we know. That designation probably wasn’t around in the 7th century before Christ. Daniel’s enemies called him something else. They referred to him as “an exile.” They called him “exile” and intended for that to be an insult.
When they went to king Darius to tattle on Daniel, they began by saying (v. 13), “Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah...”
I’m sure they thought their charge of “exile” was as much of a dig to Daniel as the charge of “mama’s boy” was to me.
But I think Daniel, upon hearing them calling him “exile” would have thought it was no big deal. He knew that’s what he was. I’m sure it wouldn’t have bothered him.
Daniel is an exile. He had, some 70 years before he was thrown into the lions’ den, been taken from his home, ripped away from Jerusalem, carried out of Judah and away from Israel all the way to Babylon.
Daniel is an exile living in exile. He’s away from his home. He’s a foreigner living in a strange land. His citizenship is not in Babylon, nor is it in Persia. He is part of the people of God living in a faraway land.
Exile isn’t an insult. It’s the truth.
It’s true for Daniel. And it’s true for us. We are exiles. We are away from our true Home. Our citizenship is not in this place.
We are exiles. As we’re traveling through this world, as sojourners in a strange land, there are certain truths we know:

Exiles know they might be hated (vv. 1-9)

Exiles know they might be hated (vv. 1-9) Exiles know God’s law is more important than man’s law (vv. 10-15)

Daniel finds himself hated. He’s hated, and for no particular reason other than the fact that he’s successful—he so distinguished himself among the others by his exceptional qualities he was set for a promotion. Daniel is successful, without corruption or negligence. He did his job and he did it well, honestly, competently.
Daniel is blameless, unimpeachable. His enemies have to conspire to get the king to pass a new law in order to get Daniel in trouble.
And this is what they do. Knowing Daniel’s faithfulness to the Lord, they get the king to pass a law that for 30 days, no one can pray to anyone—god or man—except the king.
So now, Daniel’s hated and stuck between a rock and a hard place; between God’s law and the king’s new decree.
Well, Daniel’s not really stuck. It’s not as if Daniel doesn’t know what to do. He isn’t wringing his hands or having a difficult time figuring out what to do.
There is no hesitation in Daniel. Daniel is faithful to the Lord without any thought of doing otherwise.
Daniel obeys the Lord and is faithful to Him, faithful to continue praying to Him and worshipping Him, no matter what the law of the Medes and the Persians said, no matter the consequences.
One of my favorite parts of this story is how little Daniel says. We don’t hear anything from Daniel’s mouth until almost the end of the chapter.
Faced with hatred and insults and a law tailored specifically to get us in trouble, I shudder to think how we might respond.
I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t go quietly to the lions’ den. I’d go kicking and screaming only after placing a call to my congressman, writing an editorial for the paper, posting something passive-aggressive on Facebook, calling home like the mama’s boy I am to complain to my parents, and then appealing all the way to the supreme court if necessary.
There’s this quiet resolve in Daniel—a quiet resolve in the face of hatred and insults and a law that contradicted the law of his God. Here’s Daniel: quiet and steadfast, doing just as he had done before, even in the face of the new decree telling him he couldn’t.
Daniel’s absolutely silent throughout all of this, as far as we know. There’s nothing recorded for us but Daniel’s faithful quiet resolve.
I believe this is the result of Daniel’s unwavering faithfulness in the goodness and sovereignty of God.
Daniel has to realize he’s hated. He’s no dummy. He’s 80 or 90 years old at this point; he’s been around the block a few times.
He has to know he’s hated. And he must know this new law was intended to get him into trouble.
But there’s something else Daniel knows: Daniel knows the Lord rescues and He saves.

Exiles know the Lord rescues and He saves (vv. 16-28)

This is a truth at the core of Daniel’s life. He has seen it. He has experienced it. The Lord had rescued him and saved him in a couple of instances during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar. The Lord kept him during the reign of Belshazzar. The Lord has rescued Daniel’s friends—Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego—saving them in the flames of the fiery furnace.
Daniel knows, way down in the depths of his being, that the Lord is Rescuer and Deliver. Daniel knows He rescues and He saves.
And I think, at least in part, this is why Daniel keeps on doing what he had always done, without any thought of doing otherwise. I think this is why Daniel simply continued on, without protest or pity-party or political maneuvering.
Daniel rests content in the knowledge that the God he serves rescues and saves.
This is why Daniel can continue in prayer and thanksgiving while the administrators and satraps head to the king to remind him about the decree.
Daniel rests content in the knowledge that the God he serves rescues and saves.
This is why when the king gives the order and they bring Daniel to be thrown into the lions’ den, Daniel says nothing. Only the king speaks.
Daniel 6:16 NIV
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!”
Daniel rests content in the knowledge that the God he serves rescues and saves.
Even when the lions’ den is sealed, we hear nothing from Daniel. Daniel seems to be handling all of this just fine, even better than the king.
Daniel 6:17–18 NIV
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.
Daniel rests content in the knowledge that the God he serves rescues and saves.
Here’s the thing: Daniel didn’t know what would become of him. Daniel here, facing the lions’ den, had no more reason to believe that his life would be spared than did Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego in the fiery furnace.
Everything about the lions’ den screams almost instant death, just like the fiery furnace.
But Daniel, like his friends, believed there was deliverance one way or another. If Daniel didn’t survive the lions’ den, his deliverance would be just as sure as if he had survived.
Understand: Daniel has a 100% chance of deliverance: he would either be rescued and saved from the lions or he would be rescued and saved from his time in exile and would be with his God and in his true home.
Daniel doesn’t know which is going to happen, but he knows he’s going to be delivered one way or the other.
And so he’s content. He’s content in the knowledge that the God he serves rescues and saves.
>King Darius, on the other hand, is fitful, restless, discontent. King Darius spent the night without eating anything and without entertainment: no food, no Netflix, nothing; surrounded by all his wealth and luxury and anything at all he wished at his command and still he was discontented.
He stayed awake all night, worried, yet seemingly hopeful that Daniel had been saved by his God.
Daniel 6:19–20 NIV
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?”
At the earliest possible moment, Darius goes to discover Daniel’s fate. The king has reason to believe that Daniel is okay, reason to believe that Daniel’s God was able to rescue him from the lions. I love that.
Over the 70 years that Daniel and his people had been in exile, word has spread that the God of Daniel, the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, the God of Israel was able to do some absolutely incredible stuff—saving people from the blazing furnace, and, who knows…maybe even rescuing them from a sealed pit full of hungry carnivores.
“Daniel! Daniel, servant of the living God! Has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?”
>For the first time in the chapter, Daniel speaks.
Daniel 6:21–22 NIV
Daniel answered, “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.”
I’ll admit I’m reading something into the text that’s not there, something we can’t know, but to me, it seems like Daniel was sleeping soundly just waiting for his 6:00 a.m. wake-up call from the front desk.
The king yells down to Daniel in a panicked, anguished, questioning voice, and Daniel replies as if he’s spent a perfectly pleasant night with the lions.
This much is clear: Daniel had a much more pleasant night with the lions in their den than the king had in his palace’s luxurious accommodations.
There are some commentators, Old Testament scholars, who like me, enjoy speculating.
One envisions Daniel reclining on one of the lions, hands behind his head, legs crossed, having a really comfortable night’s sleep.
Another commentator wonders if maybe Daniel and the angel who shuts the lions mouths didn’t stay up all night chatting about this and that. Maybe Daniel and the angel stayed awake all night praising the Lord God.
I like to think about what filled Daniel’s evening with the lions, though what matters is that the God who rescues and saves does just that: rescues and saves.
Daniel 6:23 NIV
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.
It gets more and more incredible, doesn’t it? No wound was found on him…this is an old man. Daniel’s even older than John Hough at this point! No wound, no scratch, no broken bone. Daniel’s no worse for the wear. A night in the lions’ den, and God’s servant is a-okay.
This is not the case for the men who had schemed against Daniel.
Daniel 6:24 NRSV
The king gave a command, and those who had accused Daniel were brought and thrown into the den of lions—they, their children, and their wives. Before they reached the bottom of the den the lions overpowered them and broke all their bones in pieces.
If this sounds cruel, that’s because it is. Under Ancient Near Eastern law, people who brought false charges against another suffer the same fate they sought for the accused. As Shakespeare would say, these men are “hoisted on their own petard.”
In line with the ruthless practice of the Persians, the sentence was also carried out on the families of the guilty men. So, the men, their children, and their wives found their way into the same lions’ den Daniel had spent the night in.
Their experience, however, was not like Daniel’s. Before they reach the bottom of the den, they are trampled, crushed, and killed.
The experience these men have with the lions proves that the divine Judge agrees with King Darius’ command.
>After seeing how Daniel’s God rescued and saved Daniel, the king issues a decree, effectively canceling the previous decree which stated no one could pray to any god or human being except the king for 30 days.
King Darius, like Nebuchadnezzar before him, confesses the awesome power and protection of Daniel’s God:
Daniel 6:25–27 NIV
Then King Darius wrote to all the nations and peoples of every language in all the earth: “May you prosper greatly! “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.”
King Darius was right. He speaks even more true than he knows when he says of the Lord: “He rescues and He saves.
As it turns out, exile aren’t the only ones who know the Lord rescues and He saves. Even kings will come to a knowledge that the Lord rescues and saves.
We read in verse 14 that the king was determined to rescue Daniel and made every effort until sundown to save him.
King Darius wanted to rescue and wanted to save, but not even the king could accomplish that.
It’s the Lord, and not Darius; it’s the Lord, and not Daniel’s enemies; it’s the Lord and not even Daniel who controls Daniel’s fate.
It’s the Lord, and not Darius (no matter how well-meaning or well-intentioned)—it’s the Lord and Him alone who rescues and saves.
Notice Darius’ progression:
Verse 14: Darius is determined to figure out how he might rescue Daniel and he makes every effort until sundown to save him.
Verse 16: As Daniel is thrown into the lions’ den, Darius is almost praying: “May your God rescue you!”
Verse 20: After Daniel’s night in the lions’ den, Darius asks, almost hoping, almost expecting Daniel to answer in the affirmative: “Has your God been able to rescue you?”
And now, in verse 27, Darius affirms, confesses, decrees this wonderful truth about the Lord: “He rescues and He saves…He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.”
Darius came to understand this much about the Lord: He rescues and He saves.
I was lying in bed, recovering from eating some bad street tacos. This was many, many years ago in the mountains of Mexico. I knew better than to eat very much from food vendors on the street, but they were soooo good! One of the best smells in the wide world are those tacos cooking on that food cart in Dr. Arroyo, Nuevo Leon, Mexico.
I was lying in bed, recovering from eating too many of those delicious tacos, and I was reading through the Gospel of Luke. Now, it’s not that I was being super-spiritual. My Spanish wasn’t very good yet and the telenovelas (Mexican soap operas) were beyond my ability to translate well enough. So sick in a foreign country with little else to do, I was reading my Bible.
Sick in a foreign country with little else to do, I was reading my Bible and the Lord was speaking to my heart. He didn’t speak audibly, He didn’t speak out loud, but He did speak through His word, very clearly.
As I was reading, I came to Luke 4. Jesus is in Nazareth at the synagogue. He takes the scroll of the prophet Isaiah and reads:
Luke 4:18–19 NIV
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
I just knew, I knew somewhere down in the depths of my being that this was meant for me.
Now, I certainly didn’t think I was Jesus or that I was going to be the one who was rescuing people. But I knew that I was supposed to have a part in proclaiming to people the Good News about Jesus Christ; I knew that I was meant to preach the gospel, to tell everyone I could the simple, beautiful truth about our God: He rescues and He saves.
And here I am, nearly 20 years later doing just that.
The Lord, the same who rescued and saved Daniel, He has rescued and saved me. He has drawn me from the pit and set my feet on the Rock. He has plucked me from the muck and the mire, and has given me hope. He has brought me from certain death to indestructible life. He has taken away my sin and given me a new name, a new Home, a new life in Him.
I know, as sure as Daniel, as sure as Darius: He rescues and He saves.
>No matter how bad it seems, no matter the circumstances, no matter the trials and tribulations we face—we must remember, we must know deep down that the Lord rescues and He saves.
This is something for you to repeat to yourself, whenever you’re facing anything of anything consequence: He rescues and He saves.
In the midst of death and dying, of suffering and sorrow, of cancer and concern; in the midst of work-related problems and family-centered drama; in times of trouble and in moments of fear—He rescues and He saves.
Confronted with our own shortcomings and sinfulness—He rescues and He saves. When we are mocked for our faith, persecuted for worshipping Jesus; when our lives are threatened and our earthly security fails—He rescues and He saves.
He rescues and He saves sums it all up. And it’s a foreshadowing of the rescue and salvation that is to come.
Our God is the living God who is able to deliver even from death those who put their trust in Him and His Son, Jesus—the One who was thrown into a pit and who, very early at sunrise, was discovered to be alive after all; the One whom the Lord raised from the tomb to everlasting life.
>He rescues and He saves.
Do you know this? Are you acquainted with the One who rescues and saves? Do you know Him? Do you have a relationship with Him?
What has He rescued you from?
What has He saved you from?
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