Daniel at 80!

Old Man in the Lion’s Den

Remember the story of Daniel in the Lion’s Den?  It was probably one that you learned early in life and continued to hear for years to come. It is a great story of faith.  They story of someone who was strong enough in his faith to trust that even though he would face the death penalty, he continues to worship God as he had done for years!  But it is also the story of an old man remaining faithful his whole life.

Daniel was among the Babylonian exiles.  I know that it was tedious to read through parts of the Bible, including the how it came about that Judah was overthrown and most of the Jewish people were forced into exile.  It was hard to follow everything that happened during those years, but it was a long time!  Scholars debate on when exactly the exile began and ended but the low estimates are about 48 years and the traditional time frame is 70 years.  Either way, it was over a generation.   There were many who were born and died in captivity and never saw Jerusalem at all.   Even if you were a careful reader, it was hard to follow everything that happened but the highlights are that it was Babylon what overthrew Jerusalem and caused the exile of the southern kingdom.  Years later, Babylon fell to Persia.   Throughout the whole time, Daniel was an important figure in Babylon.  He rose to a seat of authority despite being faithful to God. 

Daniel’s rise to power happened because he trusted that God had placed him in his new position and he was loyal to several foreign kings.  Daniel was smart and had the gift of interpreting dreams too.  He was loyal to the kings but he also never waived in his faith.  Whenever he was asked to worship anyone or thing other than God, he did not. He prayed to God three times a day just like he always did even when he knew he could be arrested and thrown into the lion’s den. 

I know that when we hear this story, we usually think about Daniel being a young man who is daring enough to face the lions.  But in fact, Daniel had already served multiple kings. When you add up the years, Daniel was probably in his eighties when he was thrown into the lion’s den!  Maybe it is time to start teaching the story this way.

We have a lot of faithful people in our congregation and in the whole Church who are in their eighties. Maybe they need to remember this Biblical hero who was their age!  After all some are feeling like they cannot do anything for their churches any longer.  Some feel like their contributions are not appreciated by the younger members.  Others are looking around their churches trying to find younger ones to replace them because they are tired of being the leaders for their churches.  But here is a leader who still faithfully serves and does not waiver in his faith.  Of course it may be easier to face death at 80 something than 20 something but facing a den of hungry lions at 80, that has to be scary.

For all those who are closer to 80 than 20 in our churches, remember that God is still using you. Hopefully never asking you to face a den of lions but still using you as a model of faith.  Remain faithful, keep praying, keep growing in your faith, and keep trusting that God is with you!  When you get down, remember that at least one great hero of the Bible was your age!  All he really did was continue to worship and trust in God. You can too!!