Daniel 6:1-9; Integrity and Conspiracy ~ 20211114 ~ Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org
11/14_Daniel 06:1-9; Integrity and Conspiracy; Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20211114_dan06_1-9.mp3
Isaiah’s Prediction [c.740-681 BC]
October 12, 539 BC, Babylon fell to the Medo-Persian forces under Cyrus. Cyrus was named by God in Isaiah more than 150 years earlier.
Isaiah 44:24 Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, who formed you from the womb: “I am the LORD, who made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself, 25 who frustrates the signs of liars and makes fools of diviners, who turns wise men back and makes their knowledge foolish, 26 who confirms the word of his servant and fulfills the counsel of his messengers, who says of Jerusalem, ‘She shall be inhabited,’ and of the cities of Judah, ‘They shall be built, and I will raise up their ruins’; 27 who says to the deep, ‘Be dry; I will dry up your rivers’; 28 who says of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd, and he shall fulfill all my purpose’; saying of Jerusalem, ‘She shall be built,’ and of the temple, ‘Your foundation shall be laid.’”
Isaiah 45:1 Thus says the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have grasped, to subdue nations before him and to loose the belts of kings, to open doors before him that gates may not be closed: 2 “I will go before you and level the exalted places, I will break in pieces the doors of bronze and cut through the bars of iron, 3 ...that you may know that it is I, the LORD, the God of Israel, who call you by your name. 4 For the sake of my servant Jacob, and Israel my chosen, I call you by your name, I name you, though you do not know me. 5 I am the LORD, and there is no other, besides me there is no God; I equip you, though you do not know me, 6 that people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides me; I am the LORD, and there is no other.
Daniel no doubt was aware of this prophecy of Isaiah. We are told in Daniel 9:2 that he had a copy of Jeremiah’s prophecies to study. It is likely that he also had Isaiah, which was written 100 years before Jeremiah.
Cyrus, whether directly or indirectly, was ruling Babylon. Was Daniel looking at the prophecies, wondering if this Cyrus was the one the Lord had named as his shepherd, to fulfill all his purpose, to rebuild Jerusalem and the holy temple? The wicked king Belshazzar is dead, and now Cyrus is in control. After 66 years of captivity (605-539BC), finally there was hope. Things were looking up!
6:1-3; Daniel promoted from third to first
Remember, Belshazzar, on the night he was killed, promised to make Daniel the third ruler in the kingdom, an empty promise from a lame-duck king whose empire as they spoke was coming to an end; an offer that Daniel declined, although Belshazzar made the empty proclamation anyway.
Now Darius is establishing his rule.
Daniel 6:1 It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom 120 satraps, to be throughout the whole kingdom; 2 and over them three high officials, of whom Daniel was one, to whom these satraps should give account, so that the king might suffer no loss. 3 Then this Daniel became distinguished above all the other high officials and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him. And the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom.
Where the wicked Belshazzar offered to make him third in his fallen kingdom, ironically Darius appointed Daniel as one of three high officials, and purposed to elevate him to first place, over the whole kingdom. The appointment of the three high officials was to hold the 120 satraps accountable, ‘so that the king might suffer no loss.’ Darius was ruling over newly conquered peoples, and those peoples would be expected to offer him tribute. A failure to pay the tax would be a treasonous act of rebellion. He needed trusted people to look out for his interests.
Cyrus was known for seeking peace and the goodwill of the people he conquered, so like Daniel, many of the officials may have been those who had served the previous administration. But there needed to be some accountability to ensure the stability of his rule. We are not told the period of time Daniel served as one of the three high officials, but during that time he ‘became distinguished above all the other high officials and satraps, because and excellent spirit was in him.’
This was the same excellent spirit with which he served under Nebuchadnezzar, the excellent spirit that the queen mother informed Belshazzar was in Daniel (5:12, 14). God had given Daniel ‘learning and skill in all literature and wisdom, and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams’ (1:17).
Jeremiah had instructed the captives in Babylon to ‘seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare’ (Jer.29:7). Daniel indeed was not seeking his own interests, but selflessly seeking the welfare of the city. He spoke truth even when it was costly; he did what he knew was right, even when no one else was. Because of this, ‘Daniel became distinguished above all the other high officials and satraps ...And the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom.
The events of this chapter may have even taken place after Cyrus’ proclamation to release the Jews to rebuild the temple, which was given in his first year (Ezr.1:1-2; 2Chr.36:22-23). Things are looking up for Daniel. But sometimes the way up is down (Valley of Vision).
6:4-5; Jealousy and Integrity
Daniel 6:4 Then the high officials and the satraps sought to find a ground for complaint against Daniel with regard to the kingdom, but they could find no ground for complaint or any fault, because he was faithful, and no error or fault was found in him. 5 Then these men said, “We shall not find any ground for complaint against this Daniel unless we find it in connection with the law of his God.”
Why seek fault with Daniel? Here’s the problem with people of integrity. If their standards are higher than yours, they may make you feel guilty or look bad. Their integrity may prevent you from taking advantage of situations you feel entitled to take advantage of. These officials may or may not have been after his promised position over the whole kingdom. But they understood the accountability this would create for them, and they resented him.
This is an amazing testimony to the integrity of Daniel. When your own PR department writes up your credentials, that is one thing. But if your enemies are digging and digging, trying to find any dirt they can on you, trying to take you down, and they come up with nothing, that says something. Daniel was above reproach.
Remember, Daniel is a captive who had been uprooted from his land as a youth; everything he had had been taken away. Home, family, hopes and dreams, a future. Everything had been stripped from him by the enemies of God’s people. He could have easily justified just about anything, thinking ‘they took everything from me; it would be right for me to demand compensation.’ He even could have thought ‘they dishonored God and plundered his temple; I’m going to reclaim for God what is rightfully his.’ Daniel could have simply let things slide, not willing directly to steal, but reasoning ‘these are the enemies of God’s people; if I work hard for them, I am cooperating with the enemies of God, and ultimately I would be advancing their cause against God. But if I am lazy and neglect to do my job well, that will hurt the enemies of God, and God would want me to do that, wouldn’t he?’
The other high officials and satraps knew Daniel was an exile from Judah. They may have seen these kinds of justifications in other Israelites, so they fully expected to find something with which to accuse Daniel. But ‘but they could find no ground for complaint or any fault, because he was faithful, and no error or fault was found in him.’ What high praise from the lips of his own co-workers!
Obey God and Man
So they concluded that if they were to find any fault, it would have to be a point at which the law of God required Daniel to disobey the king. They knew enough about Daniel to conclude that his devotion to his God was even greater than his submission to the king. But even that they could not find. We love to cite the verse ‘we must obey God rather than men’ (Ac.5:29) to give us a pass on anything we find inconvenient or distasteful, or permission to do something we just want to do. But Daniel somehow managed to live in pagan Babylon serving a pagan king with integrity and without ever compromising his faith in God. As Peter says,
1 Peter 3:9 Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. ...13 Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good?
Paul says that governing authorities have been established by God.
Romans 13:2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God's servant for your good. ...
This is the general rule. Obeying God and seeking the good of the community ought to be rewarded, not punished. Galatians 5:23 says there is no law against the fruit of the Spirit.
Now there are times where we will legitimately have to make that choice and stand in obedience to God regardless of the cost. Peter goes on to say:
1 Peter 3:14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.
For Daniel, this conflict between the law of his God and the law of the land had to be manufactured by his jealous and malicious adversaries.
6:6-9; Conspiracy and Flattery
Daniel 6:6 Then these high officials and satraps came by agreement to the king and said to him, “O King Darius, live forever! 7 All the high officials of the kingdom, the prefects and the satraps, the counselors and the governors are agreed that the king should establish an ordinance and enforce an injunction, that whoever makes petition to any god or man for thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions. 8 Now, O king, establish the injunction and sign the document, so that it cannot be changed, according to the law of the Medes and the Persians, which cannot be revoked.” 9 Therefore King Darius signed the document and injunction.
This was a true conspiracy. The other high officials and satraps conspired together, and came together as a group to the king. The word translated ‘came by agreement’ is interesting; literally it means to gather tumultuously; to gather as a mob. It is unlikely that this describes the outward manner with which they approached the king, but rather the inner motive; they did not abandon proper court etiquette, demonstrated by their introduction ‘O king Darius, live forever!’ This shows what was in their hearts. This is a verbal link to the equivalent Hebrew word in Psalm 2
Psalm 2:1 Why do the nations rage [gather tumultuously] and the peoples plot in vain? 2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Anointed...
Although they put on a good face, their appearance before the king was a result of a vicious and tumultuous conspiracy. They were plotting to murder an innocent man out of sheer jealousy, because they felt threatened by him. And they were willing to manipulate the king to serve their own ends and carry out their execution.
They flat out lied to the king’s face. They claimed that all the high officials were agreed, but clearly Daniel, one of three, the one the king intended to appoint over them all, had not agreed. Likely not even all the 120 satraps had agreed, as they were scattered ‘throughout the whole kingdom’, carrying out their duties for the king.
But they flattered the king, and flattery blinded him to what they were scheming. They wanted the king to be esteemed, and they had come up with a plan to test everyone’s loyalties. This did not necessarily imply that the king was divine, otherwise why limit this edict to only 30 days? The point was to consolidate power, that everything had to go through him. Darius would serve as the one mediator between his subjects and the gods of all the nations. All the gods had their priests, but for a month, Darius was to be acknowledged as the source and the provider of their every need.
This was the equivalent of the test in chapter 3 where ‘the satraps, the prefects, and the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the justices, the magistrates, and all the officials of the provinces gathered’ and were required ‘to fall down and worship the golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. And whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace.” (Dan.3;3,5-6)
Darius probably didn’t realize it, but this was a greater blasphemy that Belshazzar’s defiling of God’s holy vessels at his drinking party. He was claiming, if only for a time, to be the one mediator between God and man. Jesus said
John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
Jesus is our only access to the Father.
Romans 5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
We gain access to the Father as a free gift, when we put our trust in Christ alone. He stands in the gap, he paid our price, he died in our place to reconcile us to God.
1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.
Darius was claiming to be something he could never be, and he had no idea what it would cost to be that Mediator. ‘There is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.’ Jesus gave himself as a ransom for you!
2021.11.14 Sermon Notes
Daniel 6:1-9 – Integrity and Conspiracy
Hope of promised deliverer realized
Isaiah 44:24-45:6; Ezra 1:1-2; 2 Chronicles 36:22-23
Daniel promised a promotion from third to first
Daniel 5:29; 6:1-3
The above reproach integrity of Daniel
Jeremiah 29:7; Daniel 6:4-5
We must obey God and man
Acts 5:29; 1 Peter 3:9-16; Romans 13:1-4; Galatians 5:23
Conspiracy and flattery
Psalm 2:1-2; Daniel 6:6-9
A blasphemous proposition; petition only the king
Daniel 3:3-6; 6:7
There is only one mediator; his name is Jesus!
John 14:6; Romans 5:1-2; 1 Timothy 2:5-6
Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org