Bob and Weave

Musings of an impostor. Welcome to the masquerade.

The Best Place There Is

Posted by flyingbk on 04/29/2016

Note: This excerpt is from a sermon I preached recently from Daniel 6. The main focus was on the ironies of godly character. Here is the third and final one; I’ve edited it so that it reads better.

sir_peter_paul_rubens_-_daniel_in_the_lions_den_-_google_art_project

The best place isn’t where we think it is. Since I’m a nerd, allow me to get a little nerdy on us. My favorite vocabulary word is juxtaposition (it just rolls off your tongue). Juxtaposition is when you put two things side by side for the purposes of making a comparison. What a word. What a great word.

I actually was talking on the phone with a friend (a fellow writer) on Friday. I used that word, paused, and said, “What a word.” And now, some of you are like, what a nerd!

Let’s look at a few verses in Daniel and let’s look for the juxtaposition (all verses from the ESV):

 

16 Then the king commanded, and Daniel was brought and cast into the den of lions. The king declared to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, deliver you!” 17 And a stone was brought and laid on the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet and with the signet of his lords, that nothing might be changed concerning Daniel. 18 Then the king went to his palace and spent the night fasting; no diversions were brought to him, and sleep fled from him.
19 Then, at break of day, the king arose and went in haste to the den of lions. 20 As he came near to the den where Daniel was, he cried out in a tone of anguish. The king declared to Daniel, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?

Do you see it? On one hand, you have the most powerful man in the world. King Dariusi is living in the the best place in the world, his royal palace. Imagine the food that was served, imagine the entertainment provided, imagine all the interior decorating, imagine how comfortable his bed must be (featuring the finest linens and perfectly made up for him). Just paradise, every single day, every single night.

On the other hand, you have Daniel entering the lions’ den. This den is an underground pit sealed from above with a stone. I venture to say that this was the opposite of the king’s residence. No good food: they actually had a hole at the top to just drop food into the pit. No entertainment: except looking at how majestic the lions are before they eat you. No interior decorating, no linens, no bed.

Just the hard ground. The opposite of paradise.

And yet, what do we see? Who is the distressed one? Who is the angsty one? Who is the anguished one? The king couldn’t eat that night. He fasted. He couldn’t sleep that night despite how comfortable his bed was. He refused his usual entertainment.

At the break of dawn, he frantically runs to the lions’ den. He has zero peace of mind, he’s freaking out- as verse 20 says, he cried out in a tone of anguish- that word for anguish here means deep sadness- like you’re bracing yourself for the absolute worst news. You’re that scared, you’re that anxious.

How do you think Daniel’s doing?

I bet he slept really well. One preacher joked that he used one lion as a soft pillow and another lion’s mane as a blanket. That might’ve been comfortable.

Daniel was in perfect peace. Daniel was in a good place: no angst, no anguish, no stress.

The grand irony of this passage is that Daniel, in the underground den of lions, is in a much better place than the king, who is in the royal palace. The king has all the power and wealth you could dream of, while Daniel is surrounded by wild animals.

People, don’t let your worldly circumstances rule of you. If you are in a place of prayer, and therefore growing in character, living a life that honors God, nothing will shake you. You can be in that proverbial lions’ den, and you’re good.

We are in the best place we can be when we’re trusting God. We are in the best place we can possibly be when we’re honoring God. After Daniel is proven alive and speaks to the king, here’s what verse 23 says: Then the king was exceedingly glad, and commanded that Daniel be taken up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no kind of harm was found on him, because he had trusted in his God. (emphasis mine)

There it is. But again, please take note: He was in a great place even before he got rescued. That was the rescue before the rescue. This place of godly character- that’s the place of peace, that’s the place of hope, that’s the place of joy.

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