Thursday, October 31, 2013

Sermon: Daniel 6:1-28 The Lions' Den

Who likes going to the zoo? What’s your favourite animal at the zoo? ... This morning we’re thinking about one animal in particular, which we heard about in our Bible reading. Does anyone know which one? The lion.

Now when you go to the zoo, can you get up to touch the lions? Can you give them a wee stroke the way you might stroke your cat at home? No! Why not? The lions are dangerous.

Why are they so dangerous? They’ve got sharp teeth and sharp claws. You can’t just go into the lions’ enclosure - it would be too dangerous. Lions are normally longer than I am tall - between 5 foot 7 and 8 foot 2 (170 - 250 cm); they stand about four foot tall shoulder height; and they weigh between 23 and 39 stone (150-250 kg). You wouldn’t want to go in beside them!

And yet that’s where Daniel was put. Daniel was thrown into the lions den. Why was that?

Last week we heard of how King Belshazzar of Babylon lost his kingdom. Now King Darius is in charge. [Get volunteers to act it out] He has three people helping him rule the kingdom. So anything Darius needs done, Daniel and the two others do it. But the others don’t like Daniel - he always worked hard; he didn’t take bribes; he made sure to do whatever was needed. He was a Christian in the workplace, doing what was right.

Now I’m sure that you all do your homework all the time, and always work hard in school - but imagine there was someone in your class who doesn’t want to do that. Do they like the hardworking people in the class? No, because they make the rest look bad.

So Daniel’s workmates tried to find something wrong with him to try to get rid of him. But there was nothing. They decided it had to be something about his God - because Daniel trusted in God.

So all his workmates went to the king and made a law which said that you could only pray to the king (and no one else) for the next month. Daniel went home and did what he always did - he opened up his window and prayed to God - three times a day.

The men took Daniel to the king and told him what had happened. He was praying to God, not to the king. The king knew he had been tricked, but there was nothing he could do. He had to throw Daniel into the lions’ den.

To make sure Daniel couldn’t climb out, a big stone was placed over the hole. The stone was sealed with the king’s seal, so that he had to stay. That night, the king was very worried about Daniel. He didn’t eat any dinner. He didn’t play on his Nintendo DS. He couldn’t watch TV. He didn’t sleep. He was worried.

As soon as it was light, the king went to the lions’ den to see what had happened. He shouted out: ‘Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?’

Can you imagine waiting to hear if there was any answer? Surely the lions would have eaten him? But there it was - Daniel shouted back to him. God had shut the mouths of the lions so that they didn’t touch him, they didn’t eat him.

Daniel was brought up out of the den, and there were no wounds on him. No scratch marks, no teeth marks. He was safe! God was able to keep him safe and rescue him from the lions.

But do you know what? Daniel reminds me of another story. Daniel points us to another place of death, where a man was put inside, and a big stone was put over the door, and the stone was sealed in place. Does anyone know the story?

But early in the morning, the man had been put in the place of the dead - not just where lions might eat you - but he was actually dead. But early that morning, he was alive.

The way that God rescued Daniel points us to and reminds us of the way that God rescues us - because Jesus died, and was laid in the grave, but rose to new life. We remind ourselves of his new life because we meet together each week on a special day - Sunday, the Lord’s Day, when we remember that Jesus is alive.

Darius the king told everybody about how God had rescued Daniel. Jesus has told us to go and share the good news about how he has rescued us. It’s why we sing our songs. God is able to rescue us from something even scarier than lions - from our sins.

This sermon was preached at the Church Family Service in Aghavea Parish Church on Sunday 20th October 2013

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