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Belshazzar makes a promise he cannot keep. The night that he gives the order to reward Daniel for his service is his last night on earth. By sunrise a new king—even a new empire—rules Belshazzar’s kingdom. But Daniel doesn’t mind because the true King is with him. Darius, Belshazzar’s successor, will recognize Daniel’s obvious talents and one day promote him to the same rank Belshazzar promised.

Belshazzar’s story is a great reminder that people—regardless of their rank—who insult God or try to render God irrelevant are doomed to fall. They may not fall as quickly as Belshazzar, but they will fall.

Darius decided to rule by stationing 120 officers strategically over the entire empire. Over the officers he appointed 3 governors, including Daniel, and required each officer to report directly to them. This way the new king hoped not to lose any territories from his recent conquests or the revenue they provided. Because of Daniel’s exceptional abilities, it wasn’t long before he distinguished himself over the other governors and officers. So the king decided to appoint him as head over the entire realm. This appointment did not sit well with the other leaders, so the governors and officers tried to find reasons to level charges against Daniel for the way he supervised the kingdom. Though they tried, they could find no basis for charges or any corruption in his office. Daniel was loyal and attentive in his duties.

Conspirators: We will never find any credible basis for charges against Daniel for how he conducts his office. Perhaps we can uncover some suitable charge in regard to the law of his God.

The governors and officers agreed and went to the king with what they thought would be a way to entrap Daniel.

Conspirators (to the king): May King Darius live forever! All the leaders of the empire—the governors, prefects, officers, advisors, and other administrators—have consulted together and are in complete agreement that the king should issue an edict and enforce it strictly to the effect that anyone who prays to another—whether divine or human—except for you, of course, good king, for a period of 30 days, will be thrown into the lions’ den. Now, O king, we ask that you establish such an ordinance and sign it into law, so that it cannot be changed. For the laws enacted by the Medes and Persians cannot be rescinded.

After considering their proposal, King Darius signed the ordinance and made it law. 10 Even though Daniel was aware the king had signed the ordinance into law, he continued to do what he always did. He would go home, ascend the stairs to the upper room—which had windows facing toward Jerusalem—and get down on his knees three times a day and pray to his God and praise Him. 11 One day the conspirators came to his house and found Daniel on his knees praying and seeking God’s help. 12 So they went back to the king and asked to speak to him about the edict he had made.

Conspirators: O king! Did you not sign an edict expressly forbidding anyone, regardless of his nationality, to pray to another—whether divine or human—except for you, of course, good king, for a period of 30 days or else he would be thrown into the lion’s den?

Darius: Indeed. I did sign it, and I intend to enforce it according to the laws of the Medes and Persians. It cannot be rescinded. Why do you ask?

Conspirators (to the king): 13 Well, recently we found your servant, Daniel, one of the exiles from Judah, kneeling and praying at his home three times a day to his God. He is ignoring you, O king, and the edict you signed into law.

14 When the king heard the charge, he was very upset. He thought a great deal of Daniel, so he tried to figure out a way to help him. All day long until evening he looked for some loophole in the law to keep Daniel from falling victim to his edict. 15 The conspirators returned to press the matter further.

Conspirators (to the king): We have no need to remind the king that according to the law of the Medes and Persians, no edict established by the king can be revoked, changed, or ignored.

16 With his honor at stake, the king had no choice. He gave the order for Daniel to be captured. Before Daniel was thrown into the pit with the lions, the king spoke to him.

Darius: May your God, the God you have served so faithfully, rescue you!

17 Daniel was thrown into the lions’ den and a stone was brought in and placed over the opening to shut the mouth of the den. The king himself sealed it with his own signet ring and with the signets of his nobles. That way no one could tamper with the pit and nothing could happen to change Daniel’s fate. 18 The king retired to his palace and spent the night fasting. That evening he stayed to himself, turning down his regular evening musical entertainment. When he finally went to bed, he could not sleep.

19 When first light of morning finally arrived, the king got up and didn’t waste any time returning to the lions’ den.

Darius can hardly wait to see what has happened to Daniel, who has become indispensable to the king.

20 As he drew near the den, with anguish in his voice he called out to Daniel, hoping somehow he was still alive.

Darius: Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, the One you have served so faithfully, been able to rescue you from these hungry lions?

Daniel (to the king): 21 Long live the king! 22 As soon as you shut the mouth of this den, My God sent His heavenly representative to shut the mouths of these hungry lions so that they could not hurt me. He has rescued me because I am as innocent before Him as I am before you, O king. I have done you no harm.

23 The king could hardly contain his excitement and joy. He ordered that Daniel be taken up out of the lions’ den. He was removed and examined carefully, but not even a scratch was found on him—all because he put his trust in His God. 24 The king gave yet another order; this time he demanded that those who accused Daniel of wrongdoing be captured and thrown into the lions’ den—but not only them—their wives and children too. As they were being pushed into the den, before they even hit the bottom, the lions jumped on them, overpowered them, and crushed their bones in their powerful jaws.

25 Afterward King Darius sent a message to all the peoples through the world, regardless of their heritage, nationality, or language.

Message: May peace and prosperity be yours! 26 I decree that all people everywhere who live under my sovereign rule ought to tremble before and fear the God of Daniel.

    For He is the living God,
        and He will endure forever.
    His kingdom will never be overthrown;
        His reign will know no end.
27     He saves and rescues those who fear Him,
        performing signs and wonders in heaven and on earth;
    For He has rescued His servant Daniel
        from the power of the lions.

28 With his enemies defeated, Daniel continued to thrive during the reign of Darius and into the reign of Cyrus the Persian.

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