Reflections on Faith, God & Isolation
A Lockdown Devotional for the start of a New Year:
Tuesday 12th January 2021: #12 Daniel
Click here for link to the video
This story is only popular with children because we have sanitized it so much. Generations of cartoon lions behaving like oversized domesticated pussy-cats and a happy smiling Daniel nestling safely against their fur have inoculated us against the horror of the reality. In a Lion King age where we would love to befriend Simba and even fancy our chances of out-witting Scar, we forget that ancient despots held, and sometimes starved, these wild animals specifically so that political opponents or threats to their regime could become lion lunch when necessary. Once I had witnessed a lion kill in the wild I approached this story with different eyes and a new sense of awe.
It is a story of political maneuvering and machinations where, as is usual in such power games, the innocent and those with integrity appear to come off worst, while the corrupt and those who connive, conspire and lie appear to win. Throughout the story Daniel is portrayed as incorruptible, trustworthy, godly. His opponents, on the other hand are scheming and jealous. Rather than having an open debate about whose God was true, or whose morals were right, they hatched a plot to ensure Daniel’s certain death. They are masterful spin-doctors. They know the king would not knowingly condemn Daniel so they play to his ego and flatter him, causing him to put into motion a set of circumstances that, the opponents knew, because of Daniel’s devotion to God, would ultimately lead to his execution. For the king it would be a law of unintended consequences; for the others, they knew exactly what they were doing!
Daniel, finds himself, like Joseph, like Jeremiah, in a pit. The only problem is that this time he has company. And it’s not Simba!
And so Daniel, purely because of his faith in God, finds himself, like Joseph, like Jeremiah, in a pit. The only problem, in Daniel’s case, is that this time he has company. And it’s not Simba!
The text tells us nothing about Daniel’s emotions when this happened. There is no psalm of lament, there is no prayer like Jonah’s from inside the whale; we don’t know if he entered the den frightened, angry, disappointed with the king and with God, or calmly like his three friends in the furnace a few chapters previously. I think it is fair to assume that, like them, he certainly believed that God could save him, but even if he didn’t it wasn’t going to stop Daniel from worshipping him (see Dan.3:17-18). It’s interesting that while we know nothing about Daniel’s state of mind, the text concentrates on the king’s mental anguish. Having tried until sunset to rescue Daniel, having exhausted every political and legal channel, he retires to bed but cannot sleep. He is a tormented man.
If we are obediently devoted to the Living God it is safer to be sleeping with lions than to be in a royal bed.
The most powerful person in the world at that time, who had been told that he was a god, could strangely find no peace. While the god-king was tossing and turning the man of God was resting peacefully and safely. If we are obediently devoted to the Living God it is safer to be sleeping with lions than to be in a royal bed.
I once heard a colleague say that when he was called to serve in a particularly dangerous and war-torn country people told him he was mad, but he replied “If this is where God wants us then we won’t be safe anywhere else”.
God was preparing the way for the day when he would shut the mouth of the greatest Beast of all
In taming the lions God was demonstrating his power to protect his servants, showing that he was still ‘mighty to save’. He was still the God of Moses and David, but he was also preparing the way for the day when he would shut the mouth of the greatest Beast of all; when he, as the Incarnate Son would emerge from a different den having conquered the last enemy, depriving Satan of his roar and silencing the powers of darkness forever.
He who shut the lions’ mouths can shut any mouth that is slandering his people- or at least deprive it of its power – and he who has silenced Death is able to give us strength to face it as calmly as Daniel faced the den of hungry beasts
Lord Jesus, you know that on many occasions I am no Daniel; my faith wavers, my resolve fails and my devotion is stuttering. But I thank you that, regardless of my efforts or merits, you have extended grace to me in Christ and that, along with Daniel and all the faithful, I can approach opposition, persecution, slander – indeed death itself, confident that you will bring me safe through it, to your glory. Amen
No lion can him fright,
He’ll with a giant fight,
But he will have the right
To be a pilgrim.
(John Bunyan: ‘Who would true valour see’)