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A TEST OF LOYALTY
Lesson 41
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King Darius Exhilarated

“At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lion’s 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 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 from the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he trusted in his God. At the king’s command, the men who falsely accused Daniel were brought in and thrown into the lion’s 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. Then King Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations and men of every language throughout the land: ‘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 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.’ So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius [the Mede] and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.” (Daniel 6:19-28, insertion mine) Thoughtfully consider the profound experience of Darius that morning. Upon hearing Daniel’s voice, a pagan king was given every reason that morning to put his faith in the God of Daniel. The tomb was opened and “a dead man” was received by the living! The king immediately published another decree requiring every person in his kingdom to fear and reverence the God of Daniel, “the Jew.” The news about Daniel’s miraculous deliverance was told everywhere! Only when you consider the Chaldeans intense hatred for the Jews does the significance of Darius’ actions stand out. Because of Daniel’s loyalty, the God of Heaven was exalted to the highest position through the eyes and lips of a heathen king. This demonstrates an interesting point that all religious people would do well to remember. The objective of serving the God of Heaven is to bring honor and glory to God, not to self.

Israel Set Free

The story of Daniel’s miraculous deliverance and the immediate destruction of his enemies by the same lions that refused to eat him have been closely examined for some important issues. First, remember that God’s timing is always perfect! Evidently, the lion’s den episode happened during Darius first calendar year, 538/7 B.C. This allowed time for Darius to become acquainted with Daniel and develop such confidence in him that he wanted to make him number two man in his kingdom. As we are about to see, the timing of the lion’s den event was also perfect!

God used the hatred of the administrators and the loyalty of Daniel in a way that no one could have anticipated. I believe the events unfolded as follows: When Daniel sought the Lord in sackcloth and ashes for instructions on what he should do to facilitate the deliverance of Israel, God heard Daniel’s prayer and gave Daniel something that Daniel did not know he was to need. God gave Daniel peace in the face of death. This peace is reflected in Daniel’s courageous action after he learned about the law. God did not give Daniel wisdom to outfox the evil administrators, nor did God rain down plagues on Babylon like He did in Egypt. God had a better plan in mind.

After Daniel violated man’s law, God honored Daniel’s loyalty to His law with protection and enormous notoriety. (No one had ever spent a night in a den of wild and ravenous lions and lived to tell about it.) Simultaneously, God eliminated a big obstacle that stood in the way of delivering His people. God granted Darius a legal opportunity to purge his government of men who had proven their disloyalty to the interests of the king. Politically speaking, the death of these administrators would make the release of the Jews a manageable problem for the king; even though Darius did not know the Jews were about to be set free. After Darius destroyed the administrators who hated Daniel, the king promoted Daniel to the number two positions in his kingdom and no one else complained!

Evidently, King Darius died the following year after the lion’s den event and King Cyrus absorbed the territory of Darius into his expanding kingdom. Therefore, the ascension year of Cyrus over the province of Babylon was 537/6 B.C. and his first calendar year was 536/5 B.C.  Because of Daniel’s notoriety from the lion’s den event and because he was the highest official in Darius’ kingdom, Daniel became well acquainted with King Cyrus during his ascension year. During the spring of 536/5 B.C., which was the 70th year of captivity, King Cyrus met with Daniel. Daniel informed the Persian king that the God of Heaven had chosen him to be a great king before he was even born. Daniel showed King Cyrus the writings of the prophet Isaiah where Cyrus is called by name in Scripture years before Cyrus was born. (Isaiah 45:1-4) When Daniel explained to King Cyrus why he was fasting and praying – the behavior that ultimately sent him to the lion’s den – the king heart was moved at the loyalty and devotion of this elderly man to the Supreme God over Heaven and Earth. Daniel informed Cyrus that the God of Heaven had appointed the Persian king to set the Jews free, “without price or reward,” (Isaiah 45:13) for the purpose of rebuilding His temple. This same God of Heaven had delivered Daniel from the lion’s den and the rest of the story is history. Cyrus issued the decree in Daniel’s presence in the 70th year, a Friday year, in the spring of 536 B.C. The Bible says, “In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout the realm and to put in writing: “This is what Cyrus king of Persia says: “The Lord, the God of Heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. Anyone of his people among you may his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem in Judah and build the temple of the Lord, the God of Israel, the God who is in Jerusalem.”’” (Ezra 1:1-3) The timing could not have been more perfect. The decree of Cyrus ended the 70 years of captivity (counting inclusively). It is amazing how God took one loyal man through the lion’s den so that Daniel could present the will of God to a king who now controlled the province of Babylon, as well as the territory of Judah where Jerusalem was located. The greatest problem was solved. God’s timing is so perfect. His ways are magnificent! Remember, God required the release of slaves during the Friday year (the sixth year) and this is exactly what He did for the nation of Israel. The decree of Cyrus occurred in 536 B. C., a Friday year.

Note:  The Bible does not indicate that Darius died in 537/6 B.C. For two reasons, this point is deduced from the course of events recorded in Daniel 6 and 9. First, even though they are contemporary kings, Darius and Cyrus did not rule over Daniel or the province of Babylon at the same time. Second, history says that Cyrus had been a Persian king for more than 20 years before his first year over the province of Babylon came about. In order for Cyrus to become king over the province of Babylon, death had to eliminate Darius from the throne in 537 B.C. If this is a correct assumption, Cyrus’ ascension year over Babylon is 537/6 B.C. and Cyrus first calendar year is 536/5 B.C. The bible confirms this scenario by saying, “So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.” (Daniel 6:28) This text can be understood from the perspective that Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius that was followed by the reign of Cyrus. Of course, this text can also be interpreted to mean that Daniel prospered during the co-regent reign of both kings, but it seems evident that both kings did not rule over Daniel or the province of Babylon at the same time. Other facts may come to light in the future that offers a better answer. Ancient history aside, the good news is that we know the 70 years were fulfilled in a timely way. The Bible says, “The land enjoyed its Sabbath rests; all the time of its desolation it rested, until the seventy years were completed in fulfillment of the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah.” (2 Chronicles 36:21)

Calendar of Events
JULIAN YEARS

1 2 3 4  
January January January January  
539 B.C. 538 B.C. 537 B.C. 536 B.C. 535 B.C.
Tuesday Year
67th year
Wednesday Year
68th Year
Thursday Year
69th Year
Friday Year
70th Year
 
Spring Spring Spring Spring  

Jewish Years


1. Babylon falls, ascension year for Darius

2. First year for Darius, lion’s den

3. Darius dies, ascension year for Cyrus

4. First year for Cyrus, frees the Jews


End Time Parallels

As we see how God used the loyalty test to set His people free, it is easy to compare the parallels of the Great Tribulation. Here are some parallels for you to consider: Revelation 13: 8 says, “All inhabitants of the Earth will worship the beast – all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.”  This text implies that false worship will become a matter of law during the Great Tribulation because all of the world will not voluntarily worship the beast. In other words, when the world is squeezed by threats of severe punishment, “all inhabitants of the Earth” will worship the beast, except those who have a higher loyalty to the worship of God. The human race is about to be squeezed very hard. That ancient serpent, the devil, the roaring lion from the lion’s den, is about to make war upon the saints. (Revelation 12:17) Revelation 13 predicts the devil will wage war upon the saints for 42 months using circumstances that can squeeze us to a point that our highest loyalties are revealed. He will force with the penalty of his laws. (Revelation 13:5) The end result is that the saints will be legally persecuted! “He [the Antichrist] was given power [from God] to give breath [life] to the image of the first beast [the one-world-church-state which the devil will set up], so that it could speak [decree laws] and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed. He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a [visible] mark on his right hand or on his forehead, so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name.”  (Revelation 13:15-17, insertion mine) There it is! The coming loyalty test will boil down to survival. Those people who are loyal and worship God will be hunted down as criminals and shut off from the necessities of life. The saints will be forced to live by faith in God because they will not be able to obtain the necessities of life. However, those people who have the highest loyalty for personal survival will submit to the mark of the beast, a tattoo that will be placed on the forehead or the right hand. Officials in their devil’s government will wear the devil’s name tattooed on the foreheads. (This is a counterfeit of what God intends to do to the 144,000. They will wear the name of Jesus and the Father on their foreheads throughout eternity. See Revelation 14:1) Ordinary citizens will wear the literal number, 666, tattooed on their right hand. Billions of people will submit to wearing a tattoo that they know is evil in order to survive. This test will prove where our highest loyalties are!

Another parallel between Daniel’s experience and the Great tribulation is timing. Just as God set His people free right on time, God will set the saints free from the curse of sin – right on time. Several prophecies of Daniel and Revelation tell us there are important time-periods during the Great Tribulation. God has predetermined the number of days and we know His timing is perfect!

There are many end time parallels between Daniel and the lion’s den experience and the Great Tribulation. I have mentioned a few to encourage you to practice putting the Lord first in your life. I encourage you to seek the Lord thorough prayer and fasting. We want god to use us in whatever way possible to share the good news of the coming King of kings. We pray for the outpouring of Holy Spirit power. We want to be sure that we are willing to do anything that god asks of us. If Daniel had been lax about his loyalty to god, when the test came he would have fumbled, faltered and failed. Loyalty to God is a way of life that requires practice and determination. Webster describes loyalty as being constant and faithful, bearing true allegiance.  What Webster did not know is that the highest loyalty of every human being is about to be revealed!

Quiz:

1.      What is your definition of loyalty?

2.      Is God going to test our faith on His Sabbath day during the Great Tribulation?

3.      Do you want to know what God’s will is for you now?

4.      Can you see now that were fighting against the forces of evil?

5.      Do you understand why the Lord will test everyone’s loyalty during the Great tribulation?

6.      Do you feel that we should fast and pray for answers from God?

7.      Do you think you can live by faith right now?

Notes:




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