Monday, March 10, 2014

Monday, March 10- by Pamela

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Numbers 19-20, Psalm 49, Luke 5
Today's scripture focus is Daniel 6

Daniel and the Lions' Den

It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom 120 satraps, to be throughout the whole kingdom; and over them three high officials, of whom Daniel was one, to whom thesesatraps should give account, so that the king might suffer no loss. Then this Daniel became distinguished above all the other high officials and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him. And the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. Then the high officials and the satraps sought to find a ground for complaint against Daniel with regard to the kingdom,but they could find no ground for complaint or any fault, because he was faithful, and no error or fault was found in him. Then these men said, “We shall not find any ground for complaint against this Daniel unless we find it in connection with the law of his God.”
Then these high officials and satraps came by agreement[a] to the king and said to him, “O King Darius, live forever! All the high officials of the kingdom, the prefects and the satraps, the counselors and the governors are agreed that the king should establish an ordinance and enforce an injunction, that whoever makes petition to any god or man for thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions. Now, O king, establish the injunction and sign the document, so that it cannot be changed, according to the law of the Medes and the Persians, which cannot be revoked.” Therefore King Darius signed the document andinjunction.
10 When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously. 11 Then these men came by agreement and found Daniel making petition and plea before his God. 12 Then they came near and said before the king, concerning the injunction, “O king! Did you not sign an injunction, that anyone who makes petition to any god or man within thirty days except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions?” The king answered and said, “The thing stands fast, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be revoked.”13 Then they answered and said before the king, “Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah,pays no attention to you, O king, or the injunction you have signed, but makes his petitionthree times a day.”
14 Then the king, when he heard these words, was much distressed and set his mind to deliver Daniel. And he labored till the sun went down to rescue him. 15 Then these men came by agreement to the king and said to the king, “Know, O king, that it is a law of the Medes and Persians that no injunction or ordinance that the king establishes can be changed.”
16 Then the king commanded, and Daniel was brought and cast into the den of lions. The king declared[b] to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, deliver you!” 17 And a stone was brought and laid on the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet and with the signet of his lords, that nothing might be changed concerning Daniel.18 Then the king went to his palace and spent the night fasting; no diversions were brought to him, and sleep fled from him.
19 Then, at break of day, the king arose and went in haste to the den of lions. 20 As he came near to the den where Daniel was, he cried out in a tone of anguish. The king declared to Daniel, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?” 21 Then Daniel said to the king, “O king, live forever!22 My God sent his angel and shut the lions' mouths, and they have not harmed me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no harm.”23 Then the king was exceedingly glad, and commanded that Daniel be taken up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no kind of harm was found on him, because he had trusted in his God. 24 And the king commanded, and those men who had maliciously accused Daniel were brought and cast into the den of lions—they, their children, and their wives. And before they reached the bottom of the den, the lions overpowered them and broke all their bones in pieces.
25 Then King Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth: “Peace be multiplied to you. 26 I make a decree, that in all my royal dominion people are to tremble and fear before the God of Daniel,
for he is the living God,
    enduring forever;
his kingdom shall never be destroyed,
    and his dominion shall be to the end.
27 He delivers and rescues;
    he works signs and wonders
    in heaven and on earth,
he who has saved Daniel
    from the power of the lions.”
28 So this Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.

I've heard the story and read the story of Daniel and the Lion's den many times in my life. When I was in Grade 6, my school did a musical based on the story for the Spring concert and I was cast in the role of King Darius. I think sometimes that hearing a bible story so often we tend to overlook certain details because we've heard it so many times. We don't really think about the magnitude of a miracle, or the bravery of a person, or what divine intervention really meant in a given situation.

Today, when I was reading this passage, something new occurred to me. I have never really thought about why the advisors were able to pass such a crazy law in the first place. These advisors appealed to Darius' vanity and stoked his ego to the point of putting a person's life in danger. I'm not sure why this just occurred to me today...especially since my best friend at the time in Grade 6 was cast in the role of Daniel. It wasn't a stretch for me to think about how Darius must have felt when he realized that he had been tricked into making a stupid law because in that grade 6 play, I was giving up my friend. I understood that as I recited my lines to sentence "Daniel" to his death it was something I would not have wanted to do to my friend, just as I'm sure Darius did not want to either. What I did not think about was that it was not only the fault of the advisors who tricked Darius but also Darius himself. Was Darius so self-centered and unaware that one of his most trusted advisors prayed to his God every day without fail? Was Darius just focused on his own desire to be worshiped? How much convincing did Darius need to pass such a law?

It makes me think about my own life...Where is my focus? Am I too busy worrying about stoking my ego than to know the people around me....yikes...that might be a little too real in my life. Am I  listening to bad ideas from people around me? How much influence does that have on the decisions I make every day? Does it...Will it...take something drastic from God to convict me of my need for Him? And what would I do?

What does Darius do?

John MacArthur suggests this is what happened when the advisors got their way and the law was passed and Darius was made to look like a fool:

Now, I know they didn't hang around a whole day to see it all three times. They just saw one and that was the assumption that he was doing and it was a correct assumption. And so, they confront the king. He started out as king for a month...god for a month, and wound up as a fool in one day. What a fool...what a stupid thing to do...unthinking. And you know who he was angry at? He's a wise man...himself. He was angry at himself.
Verse 14: "Then the king when he heard these words was very much displeased with himself." You know, at least the guy had the honesty to put the blame where it belonged; it was his own ego that entrapped him. The allurements are always going to be there, but we don't fall to them unless our own ego gets involved. And I like this, "He set his heart on Daniel to deliver him, and he labored till the going down of the sun to deliver him."
Let's assume the thing was signed in the morning. They hustled out to see what Daniel would do at noon. Daniel was there praying. They ran back and told the king and now he had all after­ noon because execution, according to their custom, was to come before nightfall. And so, he had all afternoon. And he exhausted every legal means possible. He went every way. That's the implication of verse 14, "He set his heart on Daniel to deliver him and he labored till the going down of the sun." Now I don't know what he did but maybe he tried to find a loophole in the law or maybe he tried to find something in past Medo-Persian law that could undo this thing. But technically there was no way out. And you know what I love about this? Daniel never says a word. Daniel never takes up his own cause. Daniel never defends himself. Like Christ, he is dumb before his shearers and opens not his mouth. You see, he...he had such confidence in God through all these years that he would just commit himself to God. There was no defense, right? There was no de...what could he say except - That's right, I was praying and I'll just keep on praying. There was nothing to say.

May I never hear this story so often that I don't take the time to realize that I am very much like Darius--selfish and prideful--and that I need to be more like Daniel--God honouring and faithful.

Tomorrow's scripture focusDaniel 7:1-7
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Numbers 21-22, Psalm 50, Luke 6


TammyIsBlessed said...

That part hit me as well. Darius must have known Daniel would never go by this decree, but his pride blinded him and enticed him to do something he never would've done if he had been thinking clearly. We need to keep our focus on Jesus and off of ourselves!

TammyIsBlessed said...

One of the things that I find amazing about Daniel is his integrity. His enemies could not find a single thing wrong about him. The only "vice" they could find was his faith. Wow! Could that be said of us? Convicting indeed!