Then King Darius wrote to the people from every nation and language in the whole world. He said, "May you have great success! I order people in every part of my kingdom to respect and honor Daniel's God. He is the living God. He will live forever. His kingdom will not be destroyed. His rule will never end. He sets people free and saves them. He does miraculous signs and wonders. He does them in the heavens and on the earth. He has saved Daniel from the power of the lions."At this point in history God's people are living in exile in Babylon and will spend about 70 years there before they can return to Jerusalem. The center of their faith, the Temple, had been destroyed and now they are about 800 miles away from Jerusalem living in a foreign land among foreign people and customs. This was a culture based on idols. God had taken everything away and given them what they were going after. Their collective identity in their God was gone. It is during this time in exile that this account of Daniel takes place.
So Daniel had success while Darius was king. Things went well with him during the rule of Cyrus, the Persian. (New International Reader's Version)
For the Jews living in exile now the law of God conflicted many times with the law of the land. For Daniel after about 60 years of service much of his Jewish heritage was gone, he had even taken on a Babylonian name, but his devotion to God was still with him. He couldn't worship God in the way he wanted to at the temple in Jerusalem but he could point himself towards Jerusalem three times each day in prayer. Now in this account there is a new law that would not let him worship and pray to anyone other than the current King, Darius.
Obviously, an incredible miracle is witnessed in this account of Daniel in the Lions' den, but perhaps the greater miracle is what happens in the people around him. Daniel's act of faith and the resulting miracle have a great effect on those around him. King Darius issues a proclamation that everyone must fear and respect "the God of Daniel." This was just the beginning in changes in the laws the Jews were living under that restricted their worship of God. Eventually King Cyrus in 536 BC decreed the Jews were permitted to return to Jerusalem.
It was the first year of the rule of Cyrus. He was king of Persia. The Lord stirred him up to send a message all through his kingdom. It happened so that what the Lord had spoken through Jeremiah would come true. The message was written down. It said, "Cyrus, the king of Persia, says, 'The Lord is the God of heaven. He has given me all of the kingdoms on earth. He has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. Any one of his people among you can go up to Jerusalem. And may your God be with you. You can build the Lord's temple. He is the God of Israel. He is the God who is in Jerusalem.'" (Ezra 1:1-3, New International Reader's Version)Acts of faith have ripple effects in our lives and those around us. We may see the effects or we might not but they are there. Perhaps some of those ripples will travel into the next generation and beyond.