My first job I ever had was at the Wagon Wheel Theater on a US Army Base in Baumholder, Germany. It was run by AAFES which runs all of the stores (PXs) and grocery stores (Commissaries) on bases overseas. I worked usually on the weekends a few nights a week. I was 16. I was the only teenager who worked at the theater and all of the other employees were the spouses of soldiers who were on active duty.
Most of the time working was just fine and fun. No big deal. I would go home smelling like popcorn, but that was the only problem really. Except… except whenever the soldiers would ship out for training (‘going to the field’) those ladies would spend every single shift complaining and carrying on how they had to do life by themselves. They complained about their husbands, the Army, their kids, and the people who were the commanding officers. I have got to tell you, working there was eye opening and comical and what I could call a ‘Lion’s Den’ when the soldiers were gone. I never heard my mom complain like that, but to be fair my dad’s job was a bit different. I tried to keep my mouth shut because if I tried to inject some, ‘This is what you signed up for’ or ‘It is only temporary’… they would absolutely eat me alive with their comments. Besides, I was a 16-year-old kid who knew nothing. I learned a valuable life lesson: When three ladies are having a conversation when they are complaining about men… run away.
I mention that memory of mine because today we are talking about work and we are also talking about a lion’s den.
Today, we continue a 5-week blog series (4 of 5) that focuses our attention on the basic truth that we no longer live in a Christian nation. We live in a land where God is not the priority in politics, dating, marriage, values, sexuality, entertainment, education, family, or worldview. Just about everything in our culture is designed to pull us away from God. We do not live in a nation rooted in Biblical values, but rather we live in ‘Babylon.’ ‘Babylon’ was a real place in the Bible, but in the Bible, it also became a symbol for a culture or a society that marches away from God and away from His way of living. We live in ‘Babylon.’
OUR CULTURE, ‘FAITH FOR EXILES,’ Kinnaman & Matlock, 2019, pages 151-153
The culture in which we live, in Babylon, is overall about ambition. In a 2010 survey of teenagers (Barna) who are now in their twenties, 26% expected to be famous by the time they were 25 years old. Famous on Youtube. An influencer. It is ambitious to think that you will reach a peak of success or fame while in your 20s. Fame is important in Babylon. Name recognition is important as well.
Success and accomplishment are important in Babylon and success should come without having to ‘pay your dues’ or ‘work your way up from the mailroom.’ That is the old way of thinking. Our culture expects with a few clicks and a few videos that someone can go ‘viral’ and be famous overnight and be a millionaire in a week. We think it is silly, but it happens often and we think it can happen to us.
The world of work and business and self-employment and side-hustles is all important because marriage and family is being pushed back until later in life for many. Some things that used to be valued have been devalued and in their place is the need to be noticed and affirmed on a regular basis. In Babylon, people take time to make a little money here and a little money there instead of one place. Traditional workplaces are going out the window and COVID simply helped that along. In Babylon, people would rather be their own boss than work for someone else. In Babylon, expecting the government to help is normal. All of these truths mix to create the current climate of jobs and income in our society. Overall, work is important when living in Babylon, but work has to fit us and must bring us success pretty quickly. That is the culture in which we live.
One of the things we notice about Daniel in these opening verses of Daniel 6, is that his job is government work. He is a bureaucrat not a farmer or a soldier. He is a paper pusher and someone who is an administrator not a laborer or a doctor or a teacher. Also, he was good at his job… not just good… but excellent because verse 3 tells us that God was blessing Him. Daniel’s job was in no way religious, but secular and out in the world and he was using his unique talents and gifts to work and honored God while he worked. I think it is important to make sure we know that.
We also notice, in verses 4-5, that Daniel did his work with excellence and faithfulness and the people who were looking to accuse him did not find fault in him. They tried to find fault with him but his integrity was tight.
This is a principle that is key for us as we are believers living in Babylon. The key principle in these verses is that we need to work with excellence and perseverance and faithfulness no matter what job we are doing. That is what God calls us to do. That is what our identity in Christ calls us to do. We reflect our Savior when we work. A resilient disciple at all times realizes they are serving Jesus Christ… even if that is at work. Even when that is at a job you hate.
There is a passage in the New Testament that confirms this for us. The Apostle Paul teaches the same principle to the Christians in Colossae. Colossians 3:23-24 (ESV): “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”
We see in these verses that Daniel worked in a stressful environment that was not friendly to him or his faith. His co-workers were jealous of him and did not wish for his success. I would say they probably actively worked against him most of the time. We see overall in these verses that his co-workers were so intent on getting rid of him that they made up policies designed to attack his faith and trap him.
The environment was one of adversaries and false partnerships and bribes and accusations. This is the work environment of Daniel and others. How did Daniel approach living and working in this type of society? How did he maintain his faith? How did he keep his head on straight and his heart right?
Daniel was a man of prayer. Daniel was a man of routine prayer. I love verse 10 which shows us that Daniel knew exactly what was signed and he chose to be faithful to God no matter the policy laid out against him. What words would you use to describe Daniel? Some might say stupid or stubborn or ignorant. I would not use those words. Daniel knew exactly what happened and exactly what the end results would be and knew his faith. I would use words like faithful, steadfast, immovable, and full of integrity.
We find a principle here that there may be policies or co-workers that we have to deal with that directly oppose our faith, but we are called to be prayerful and faithful. I am not talking about policies that rub against your personal preferences, but rather people that actively oppose faith. It is our job by prayer and with the Holy Spirit to distinguish between personal preference and a ‘thus sayeth the Lord.’
There is a passage in the New Testament that confirms this for us. The Apostle Paul teaches the same principle to the Christians in Corinth. 1 Corinthians 15:58 (ESV): Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
It is not in vain to prioritize our faith and prayerful and to be steadfast in Christlikeness when at work or when facing issues in our career that make persevering in faith difficult. Prayer is a core value for us as we keep our minds and hearts centered on God in the midst of events or co-workers or policies that draw us away from God.
King Darius realized too late he had been duped by his underlings to get rid of Daniel who was a rock star for him. Darius wisely relied on Daniel as other kings had done. King Darius had to follow the letter of the law and tossed Daniel in with the lions and had a sleepless night.
Daniel relied on God. That night a bona fide supernatural miracle happens. It is a miracle because when a human being is put into a den of hungry and most likely mistreated lions, the lions should overpower the humans and break their bones to pieces and eat them. That is normal. Daniel explains to King Darius in the morning that God sent an angel and shut the lion’s mouths with duct tape. Maybe. We don’t know how, but God’s angel calmed the lions, and Daniel was saved.
In a gruesome turn of events, the people that schemed to put Daniel there were themselves tossed in with the lions and died.
As I was thinking about Daniel, a passage from the New Testament came to mind. 2 Timothy 2:15 (ESV): Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.
Daniel presented himself rightly and was not ashamed of his actions or why he was in the lion’s den. His conscience was clear. That is a fantastic place to be when the world blows up around you. If you and God are good and your conscience is clear with the people around you, there is no better place to be when hardship comes.
I hope you can see that Daniel was a man of prayer and principles at work and he did not let his society remold him and shape him away from his values. We need to be the same.