There is a Bible narrative that runs parallel to conditions and circumstances that many experience at one time or another. It can be a personal experience, but the incident usually has a corporate attribute, where several people are involved. Critical events that have lions attached to them can also be a trial of a nation. Today the words of king Darius come from a clear trumpet to ears that hear: “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!” (Daniel 6:16)
Daniel was a Jew who lived in Persia. Israel had been conquered. Many of its people carried off and exiled to this country. It was an outcome of not respecting the God of their fathers. Even amid the judgment of a nation, God will still favor individuals who honestly serve Him with their hearts. Daniel was such a man.
Daniel the Administrator
Darius had selected Daniel to be one of the 3 administrators of the Persian Empire. These administrators oversaw the satraps or governors of the different provinces. Daniel so distinguished himself that the king was planning to appoint him over the whole kingdom. The other “leaders” did not want that, so they looked for anything to accuse Daniel. Not finding anything, they drummed up a technicality to eliminate Daniel’s presence and influence in their country’s government. It was a faith thing, and attacking Daniel for standing up for his beliefs was the plan. The congress of Persia caused the king to declare by decree, in writing, “anyone who would not bow down to the Persian god would be put to death.”
The first thing Daniel did was to go home and pray to the God he knew. Of course, the ‘Persian Swamp’ knew he would do this and immediately arrested and presented the man of God to Darius. King Darius had no choice but to let the penalty stand. The skinny of the rest of the story is Daniel got not even a scratch, and all the ego-centric spearheads and their families were eaten by the same lions in the same den. Darius recognized the God of Daniel and declared his fame, sovereignty, and faithfulness. Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and in the reign of his successor Cyrus, the Persian.
For He is the living God and He endures forever; His kingdom will not be destroyed, His dominion will never end. He rescues and he saves; He performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earthDaniel 6:26-27
Bible narratives are useful to understand the circumstances of a personal experience. Often one is attacked because they are a threat to another. The victim may be getting more favor and acclaim, so jealousy enters as a real motive. Sometimes the accuser is just plain mean. Whatever the circumstance, Jesus is still living, a King forever, and He rescues and saves. Just to be sure, sometimes the situation is of our own doing and not that of our enemies. God still has mercy and saves those who trust in Him. A lot of the time, there is a combination of personal shortcomings and attacks. Speaking from experience, God still shows mercy and kindness to His own and even to the attackers of His children if they humble themselves and repent.
The phrase, “and they call themselves Christians,” is very troublesome. The people who use it to attack others should consider the implications of their accusations. One, by default, they acknowledge the reality of Jesus, the Christian God. Two, they infer having knowledge of the standards of behavior required by the Christian God, so they are without excuse when they stand before Him. Three, lions really do not know much about Christian theology. This is a trustworthy saying, God holds a ledger, and the accounts will be satisfied on the last day. Is it not wonderful that God is the redeemer and can wipe the slate clean before the debt is due?
The Daniel narrative should be sobering. Modern-day Daniels are being locked in the dens of hungry lions even as we breathe. Satraps who are so full of anger and bitterness have laid traps and are still doing so. Innocents are being accused because of their affiliations and are being deprived of elements of a good life. Name-calling and evoking enormously powerful feelings that belong to terrible historical villains and cultures is a hungry lion. Shaming people into renouncing their values and identity is a hungry lion. Pitting one group against another group is a hungry lion. When all these things are in operation in a nation, the nation itself has been thrown in the den, and it is night. God’s mercy extends to countries as well as individuals.
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.2 Chronicle 7:14
Men of old knew the sign of the times. They knew when their country was at peace or in danger. They looked for a leader, and they knew a shepherd by sight, voice, and manner. They knew a country, even a nation, could not stand when divided or the good foundation has been replaced with lies, jealousy, and self-interest. They knew that when their inheritance was not held in honor and their history is forgotten or stolen, then they were a nation no more. They knew to bow down not to the circumstance but to God and pray. They knew firsthand that a hungry lion has no taste for faith.
Now then, let us take stock in values and honor. Let honesty transcend partisanism, let a lie be a lie, and truth be the truth. May those who spin the truth find it a bitter pill in their stomachs and acknowledge their shortcomings. Let us realize human answers are merely temporary bandages. May people everywhere have an opportunity to ponder, reflect and respond and not be consumed at night in the lion’s den.
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