One of the most neglected, yet important, facets of the theology of Daniel is how his personal mission in Babylon informs the Church’s mission in the world. One value of preaching through Daniel is that your congregants who work for a living gain insights into their mission.
In Daniel 6:2 we learn Daniel’s job description: “…so that the king might suffer no loss.” That was Daniel’s job as one of the king’s “three high officials.” Verse 3 records that Daniel surpassed them all.
Imagine Daniel reasoning this way: “The king is ungodly, therefore I cannot put my heart into making sure he suffers no loss.” Lots of Christian people feel this kind of tension. I’m not sure I’ve ever met a Christian who said, “My mission for God in this world is to make sure my boss succeeds.” I’ve met tons who said, “My mission for God in this world is the share the gospel.”
Caveat: I am all for evangelism. God, however, was interested in us seeing another kind of evangelism. Let’s call it, evangelism by excellence.
In his commentary, Duguid writes, “[Daniel] had now served the empire faithfully for almost 70 years….Daniel’s life was…completely free from corruption and negligence.” What a great testimony! Imagine helping your parishioners catch a vision for surviving their exile as strangers and aliens by serving the earthly empire in which they find themselves. It’s quite a mission. When the king stated Daniel’s mission, he put it like this: “O Daniel, servant of the living God…whom you serve continually…” I thought Daniel was serving the king?
Of course, Paul wrote, “…all that will live godly…suffer persecution.” In Daniel’s case, he the whole lion’s den scenario didn’t occur because he verbally defended truth. He was about to suffer because he lived a godly life. The whole narrative is about persecution: the persecution we should expect (vv. 1-9, 14-18), the reaction we should exhibit (vv. 10-13) and the power God has to deliver us (vv. 19-28).
While we can’t promise our folks that God will always deliver us from death, we know He will ultimately deliver us through death because His Son, our Savior, didn’t fare so well as Daniel. At least not at first. The lion devoured our Savior, but God raised Him from the den! Those who trust Him embrace their mission.
Preach well for the sake of God’s reputation in the Church and in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 3:21).