DANIEL IN THE
by Ron Wood (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Three days in a row the Lord
directed me in my early morning devotions to the story of Daniel in the lion's
den. I didn't get it at first. In my season of life and ministry, I had been
experiencing a year of peculiar and intense attack against me. I felt like I had
been chewed up and spit out by a crafty enemy. The Lord had begun to instruct me
regarding how to pray. Was this another lesson? What was God saying to me? Then
I saw it and a light went off. Daniel never talked to the lions.
Jesus said we could take up serpents (Mark 16), but he never said what to do with lions. Lions are often pictured as enemies of prophets. "I was rescued out of the lion's mouth," Paul said. (2 Tim. 4:17) This referred to his intense spiritual battle with the idolatrous power behind Diana, a territorial spirit worshiped by the Ephesians (Acts 19). After this experience, Paul wrote about standing against evil powers in prayer. (Eph. 6:10-18)
The devil prowls about "like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour," Peter said. (1 Peter 5:8) Peter knew what it was like for Satan to desire to sift him and for his faith to be tested. (Luke 22:31) Have you ever been sifted? Has your faith ever been tested? These are references to our spiritual warfare. The devil is a roaring, devouring lion. That is still his fierce nature today.
A clear illustration of this otherwise invisible war occurred when the prophet Daniel was cast into a lion's den. The situation was not fair. He was mistreated simply because he maintained his integrity in praying to God. But God delivered him.
Daniel testified, "My God sent his angel and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was innocent in his sight." (Daniel 6:22) Then the king put Daniel's accusers in with the lions. They were torn apart immediately. The lions hadn't lost their appetites. Their nature was still to devour and destroy. But they couldn't get to Daniel because of his angelic protection. Their jaws were kept shut.
A Picture of Prayer
I have had hanging in my place of prayer a lovely sepia print of a prized painting given me by my wife. It pictures Daniel in the den of lions. Every time I look at it, the Lord speaks to my heart of Daniel's noble character and effective intercession. He was a prophet and a statesman, a man who was blameless in his walk with God, faithful in his duties, respectful in his attitudes even toward heathen rulers.
He is a model for me. Daniel was a man who had dreams and visions and foretold the history of nations. He was a student of the Bible. He wrote what he saw. He prayed for Israel's restoration from captivity. In my painting, Daniel is gaunt from frequent fasting. His back is turned to the lions. The lions look puzzled and as they pace about behind him. It is as though when they look toward Daniel they can't really see him, but see something else that makes them wary of attacking. Daniel is oblivious to the lions. His face is turned toward heaven. He is standing with his hands clasped behind his back. He is in prayer.
In the Scriptures and in my painting, Daniel does not address the lions. As far as we are told, he never rebuked them, never confronted them, never commanded them, never bound them (except by prayers and praises to God), never took authority over them. Instead, he ignored their fearsome growls. He did not acknowledge their power over him. His attention was on the Lord. He went over the lions' heads to their Creator, to the source of all power in the universe.
Daniel was an ambassador of a higher kingdom. He was using weapons of a higher order, weapons of righteousness. His faith was manifest not in bravado, but in humility and the fear of God. There is a lesson here for us concerning spiritual warfare.
Most modern Americans were raised in a culture which disregards authority. We don't instantly become renewed in our thinking just because we are born again. The spirit of this age, from which we have drunk deeply, still affects our thought life.
This tendency can carry over into our prayer life. God is sometimes approached as though our will is superior to His, as though our prayers can tell Him something He doesn't already know. Instead of making supplication, we make suggestions. And sometimes we do things in the name of the Lord that are unwise, like assuming we - apart from God - can force Satan to do our bidding.
Some demons have greater power because they are closer to the source of evil. Jesus said this kind doesn't go out except by fasting and prayer (Mt. 17:21). Demonic powers that promote homosexuality, abortion, idol worship, and false religion have great power to deceive.
Principalities and evil spirits were created by God with authority, albeit now perverted, misused, and doomed to hell. Even though Jesus has triumphed over them, they should be dealt with carefully. Angels know this. "But Michael the archangel when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, 'The Lord rebuke you!'" (Jude 9)
Addressing the Father
To whom do you pray? Do you praise and entreat the Lord? Or do you spend your time rebuking the devil?
It is a subtle but serious heresy to treat Satan as equal in power with God, to give him more attention than he deserves. God alone is Creator and Redeemer. Satan and his fallen angels, though vested with authority until the final judgment, are trapped in this space-time world with mankind. We have a way of escape; the devil does not. Only the Lord God stands outside of and above time. He alone is Deity, worthy of worship. Gaze at God but only glance at the devil. Don't become distracted!
Focus your prayer time on God, not on your enemy. The more you see God on the throne, the more authority you will have to pray. God owns all authority. We have none, apart from Christ in us. We only have God's authority when He delegates it to us with a specific command that commissions us. Using authority casually can produce casualties.
There is a story in the Old Testament of a prophet sent to rebuke an idolatrous altar. This was a high-level power encounter. When the prophet rebuked the altar, it split in two. Yet that young prophet was now on dangerous ground. An older prophet tricked him into disobeying God. The young prophet, although successful in his mission, was eaten by a lion on his trip home. Why did he lose his protection? Disobedience!
There is a better way to do warfare. And it is not by shaking our fist at the devil. That's just shadowboxing. It lands no body blows. When Jesus was tempted by the devil in the wilderness, he did not rail at him. (Luke 4) Instead, he quoted the written Word. He used the sword of the Spirit against his foe. Jesus went on to accomplish complete obedience to the Father and therefore was given all authority. (Phil. 2) Jesus succeeded by radical obedience. He stayed submitted to God, declared the gospel, drove out demons, and gave his life on the cross. His resurrection was the grand finale which proved he has all authority in every realm.
Based on Jesus' victory, we can petition God and win the battle, too. We can pray, "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." We can be anointed to set captives free. This is the miracle of grace based on our union with Christ.
Daniel modeled intercessory prayer by repenting on behalf of his people. He prayed to God, not to principalities or demons. He stood his ground when the battle got fierce. Another model for this kind of prayer was Queen Esther.
A Queen Saves a Nation
Esther became Queen to King Ahasuerus in Persia about 460 BC. Esther was a Jew. A wicked plot was hatched by Haman to murder all the Jews. Moredecai enlisted Esther to entreat the King to abort the plot. After a 3-day fast and by God's divine intervention, the plot was thwarted and Haman was hanged on the very gallows intended for Mordecai.
In this episode, Esther never addressed Haman. She never rebuked him or accused him. She did not get angry and shake her fist at Haman. Instead, she humbled her soul, showed great respect for those in authority (even Haman) then entreated the King with her petition.
She approached him with proper protocol, trusting in his love, despite the danger inherent in her mission. The lesson here is: Who has the authority? If that person or that situation has power over your life, where did they get it? Who do you appeal to for help? Do you negotiate with the enemy? Or do you stand in your authority under God?
The Bible says we should turn to God's throne for help. (see Hebrews 4:16)
When Jesus stood before Pilate awaiting sentencing, he said, "You would have no authority over me if it were not given you from above." (John 19:11) He entrusted himself to his Father. He didn't panic and wonder how Pilate had gotten the upper hand.
(In my recent posting, "Interview with an Apostle," recall that the apostle Paul never admitted to being a prisoner of Rome, but only of Jesus!)
Do you have faith to believe that God knows what you are facing? What disaster are you staring at? What evil or what trial has attracted your gaze? Fight to win by fixing your gaze on the author of your faith, Jesus Christ! Matthew 28 says Jesus has "all authority." There is none higher!
True spiritual warfare is best accomplished when we lift up our eyes to Jesus and see the majesty of his kingdom, his power, and his glory. From that place of humble worship, God's word in our mouth can make demons tremble, activate holy angels, move heaven and earth, and shape the destiny of nations.
© 1999 by Ron Wood, President of Touched By Grace Inc. For information write P.O. Box 12749, Wilmington, NC 28405. For resources visit www.touchedbygrace.org. Permission to copy or share provided content and byline remains unchanged. We are touched by grace to touch the world!