Who can resist the story of Daniel in the lions’ den? We are in the Exile Stream in the book of Daniel which has thus far produced an exciting story for each chapter. We are reading from the New Life Version this week.
Today we read of one of the most befabled stories in the entire Bible; a story that has entranced children of all ages for over 25 centuries.
Daniel, is a man whose character and skill, ethics and personal convictions to virtue are unsurpassed in all history.
Because of his tremendous worth to the King, Daniel is advanced to be the chief overseer of the largest empire on earth. As often happens when someone is advanced to such a level (even though Daniel is a foreigner), the others thought that Daniel should not be over them in authority and they were jealous; horribly jealous, manically jealous, jealous enough to plot Daniel’s murder while trying to make it look like a show of prudent honor toward the king. They want Daniel shoved down below them and are on a mission to see him brought down. They watch his every move like a vulture looking for some fault, some flaw, some reckless move or selfish dealing. They find nothing wrong with Daniel – not a thing. This frustrates these underlings all the more.
The only hope they have is to intimidate Daniel to stop being the character that he is. That being hopeless also, they trick the King to make a spurious law that Daniel will pray to the God of the Hebrews in violation of the quack law that all the empire shall pray only to the King for 30 days. Is it fair to ask “isn’t praying to the King for 30 days and then stopping, mere proof that the King should not be prayed to at all? If this is to stop in 30 days, why start?” These hucksters make this law because they want to make a small window within which to catch and eradicate Daniel quickly. The King should have caught this one and stopped it before he let it start. But he wasn’t thinking it all through – proof yet again, that he should not be prayed to and he is not God. Just musing here.
What most don’t know is that Daniel was marched to Babylon as a prisoner at 13 years of age, in 586 B.C. He has been in Babylon for 57 years come the Daniel 6 story. He has prayed 3 times a day for decades. Daniel has had more than 20,000 personal prayer meetings [nearly 25,000 actually] and nothing has stopped him all his adult life from prayer toward Jerusalem. It is between 530 and 525 B.C. about now. Please notice what his first reaction to finding out that praying to the one true God is going to get him torn to shreds by many lions all ranging between 300 and 500 lbs. Do we all notice that his first reaction with threat of a terrifying death [for praying] is, “hmmm, I am going to pray about this. Yes indeed, I better pray about this!!”
What would our reaction be? In the early 1960s, USA, one malfescient athiest brought up a completely false claim that hundreds of thousand, indeed millions of Americans were despondent and against school children across the USA praying to start the school day. She gathered piles and piles of forged signatures, [that didn’t exist!], she lied lied about her numbers and lied some more (and later laughed about all her lying that the Supreme Court believed) and … the scharade passed into being law that it was now against the law to pray in school. The entire country slumped back into their comfy kitty boxes and complied. Consequently, the pagan revolution was in full swing in less than a decade because we were told to stop praying and as a nation, and as a public we succumbed to seculars. Why did no one ask, “…stop praying or else what? throw me to the lions? napalm my house and property? what are you going to do?” Why did no one defy like the one Chinese Christian who stood in from of the tank in Tiannemen square 1989 and basically screamed with his body language, “…stop this treachery and you stop now!” What happens to a nation when it stops praying so to please the pagan malcontents?
Those who hated Daniel promptly reported him to the king who instantly knew that this was not a good development and that he had been trapped by his own shortsightedness. He had no option but to let the false law run its course – and he had no peace. He knew this whole thing was wrong. Had he ever been so stressed?! He would not eat or be entertained throughout the night All that night Daniel used no cat charming tricks, he had no lion repellent, he didn’t stare back at the cats like they were cobras. This night in the lion’s den didn’t even interrupt Daniel’s prayer life!! What does it take to interrupt our prayer life??! A little bad news? a ding from our phone? in incoming text? a threat from a boss or friend?…former friend? a visit from an enemy? a visit from the IRS? a criminal? It seems the littlest things stop us from praying. And we suffer for having such weak resolve, as do our churches, our schools, our society itself suffers because it seems prayer is our final ‘un’priority. Well for Daniel nothing – not even the worst thing – stopped him from praying.
The King ran to the lions den … uh, kings do not do this, they do not run to anything. Kings walk and others run to them or from them. They themselves never run. Well, this king did. He was that disturbed and anxious to have Daniel alive and serving/managing/protecting him again. Thank God (who?!) DAniel was alive. We all heard Daniel’s statement from the lion’s den. Now with Daniel alive, the relief and joy is overwhelming. The King also feels free to emote here a bit and realizes fully that he has indeed been tricked by Daniel’s enemies and the King is FURIOUS. He calls/orders that all those men plus their wives and their children be thrown into lion’s den immediately. The gavel drops, they are all thrown in and they are mashed like gristle. The lions did not eat them, they crushed them. One version says that the lions crushed all their bones…ALL their bones, all of them. No one survives this mauling. Do we think that if we or anyone is going to fight against God and survive? Do any of us think that when we live for God and walk with God He isn’t going to save us from anything and everything that would lay siege to us.
What results from Daniel’s prayer, life and commitments? The law of the LORD goes to the whole earth! Some mission experts have declared that this was the single greatest revival that ever swept the earth in a single decree. What would happen to this world if all of us lived like Daniel? What would be different in the business world?, regarding religion?, what would happen in our schools?, in public squares across our nation and the earth? Would the culture get cleaned up? would media take notice and change?
“LORD, help us to pray and live like Daniel and start doing so today, Amen”