Titles & Perseverance

You may be familiar with the story of Daniel and the lion's den. It's taught in children's Sunday school classes from an early age -- I'm not sure why, it's kind of a gruesome topic -- and my kids just learned about it recently at our church. Essentially, Daniel is continually faithful to God, and God continually rewards him. He was a big deal in the kingdom prior to the one in this story, despite being an exile from Judah, and was becoming just as big a deal to the current king, Darius.

At this point in the story, King Darius was planning to make Daniel head over his kingdom, which some other royal advisors and satraps were not happy about. These guys convinced the king to issue a decree that no one should pray to any other god except the king (a common theme in Daniel), and he complied. Daniel of course goes right home to pray for help from the God of Israel, and is caught in the act. They went straight to the king:

Then they said to the king, “Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, Your Majesty, or to the decree you put in writing. He still prays three times a day.” When the king heard this, he was greatly distressed; he was determined to rescue Daniel and made every effort until sundown to save him. (Daniel 6:13-14)

Notice what they call him: "one of the exiles from Judah." It had been a long time since that happened, and Daniel had already proved himself over and over to both this king and the prior rule. But still, all this time later, Daniel is still labeled as "one of the exiles." It made me think, what is a title you still have? Are you "the Black Sheep of the family?" "A failure?" "Poor?" "Hopeless?" "Idiot?" Even though you are redeemed by Christ, are there still titles following you from the past? I want to encourage you that these are not your identity! Daniel was so much more than an "exile from Judah," he was a follower of the Living God who continually rescued him! The same is true for you, so leave those titles behind and press forward!

Back to the story: Even though the king tried to save Daniel, he was caught by his own law and forced to follow it. That night he threw Daniel in the lion's den with these words: “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!” (Daniel 6:16b)

Daniel seems to go quietly, and Darius spends the night in personal upheaval, worrying about his trusted official. The next morning at dawn Darius goes to check on Daniel, only to find him alive!

At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den. When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?”
Daniel answered, “May the king live forever! My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, Your Majesty.”
The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.

The thing that stuck out to me about this is the consistency with which Daniel serves God, so much so that it seems to be attached to his identity. "...your God, whom you serve continually..." is the phrase used, and it is true: if you read Daniel, he is constantly consistent in his devotion to God, despite overwhelming odds from the state. And the thing to note here is that it never fails him! Daniel always trusts God, and is always promoted and given more responsibility. It is a living example of the parable of the talents that Jesus told.

So in all this I encourage you to know who you are in God, and stick to that identity fervently! He will not fail you, and you can live in freedom, even amongst enemies.