Sunday, October 16, 2016

In age as in youth

Daniel was more than eighty years old, elderly for our modern age and ancient for the pre-industrial world. Yet the gifts that had twinkled in his youth were in full bloom in age.  

Do you remember the boy who prayed believing that the God of fallen Israel and Judah could miraculously reveal the answer to him in far off Babylon (Daniel 2)? He became the aging man who foresaw the coming of Alexander the Great, the Ptolemies and Seleucids, the rise of Antiochus Epiphanes and the coming in power of the Son of Man.  While Belshazzar was forgetting who Daniel was, Daniel was seeing the throne room of God (Daniel 7).

This is the often overlooked background to both the story of the writing on the wall and the lion's den.  Daniel had shifted from a teenage wise man then a middle aged government official to something more-a powerful prophet supported by a powerful spiritual discipline. 

Like the story of the fiery furnace, the story of Daniel and the lion's den begins with jealousy.  Daniel is a trusted administrator of the Medo-Perisan empire and his rivals are looking for an excuse to get rid of him. Unfortunately for them he is personally blameless.  

However they do have the power of habit and integrity on their side.  Three times a day, every day, Daniel heads to his upper room, turns his face towards Jerusalem, and prays.  And he is not the kind of guy who is going to stop just because the law changed. 

So they con the king into signing an unchangeable degree. No one can ask anyone but the king for anything for 30 days. And unsurprisingly they catch Daniel at his prayers.

I wonder how long Daniel had been praying like that.  Since he started having visions during the reign of Belshazzar?  Since Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego faced off with Nebuchadnezzar?  Since he was still a student and praised God for saving him and all the wisemen from imminent destruction?  The text doesn't say but Daniel's long-entrenched prayers seem more important to him than his life. 

At eighty plus Daniel is thrown into the lion's den and we all know the result.  Angels shut up the lions' mouths and he is rescued. His jealous accusers become lion chow instead.

As you share this story with your children, I urge you to point out how very old Daniel is in this story.  Ask them to imagine what their lives will be like when they are eighty.  Listen for them to talk about how they will still be serving and praising God and suggest it if they don't think of it themselves.  There are few things beyond the habits of basic hygiene that can remain so unchanged as the disciplines of a Christian life.  Urge them as they grow old enough to do daily devotionals, read their Bibles, or pray before bed and over their food to consider how they will continue this all the days of their lives.  And remind them that to Daniel the importance of these habits eclipsed the importance of even his own life. 


  1. What a lovely story. I'm going to get daddy to read this story to my little boy. As he's only three we'll have to adapt it a bit so it's a little easier for him to understand. :) Thanks for sharing! #TwinklyTuesday

  2. How interesting that Daniel was 80 years old when he was in the lions’ den! Just being “thrown in” itself could have been dangerous at that age. But he’d had a lifetime of seeing God’s faithfulness; may I be so loyal to God if I make it to 80! Thanks for sharing this, Helene.

    1. I was really surprised at how old he was! It was a detail that really got me thinking about how I want to be when I'm 80 too!

  3. Wow! I'm sitting here reading this as a Bible Study Teacher with my Bible Study Teaching Aunt and neither of us knew Daniel was in his 80's when he went into the Lion's Den. I immediately went to Google to verify and you are soooo correct. Wow! This makes such a greater impact for me. Thinking a teenager went in was always my mindset. The flannel graph always made him look like a teenager :) Thanks for opening my eyes to this truth.
    ~Sherry Stahl

    1. Sherry,
      I LOVE that you went and looked it up! I always appreciate someone double checking me. We need to be careful with the word of God not just swallowing everything whole!

  4. Thank you for sharing this powerful message!
    The importance of encouraging our kids on the way of the Lord.😘 Thank you friend.
    How are you?