Our focus this week was on this principle: We stand tallest and strongest on our knees. The lesson was based on Daniel 6. It’s a story we are all familiar with, about Daniel being thrown into the lion’s den. We were looking at how we should respond, when we encounter adversity, not in a random sense, but specifically due to our Christian beliefs. Of course, we all thought of our friends who are trying to find their way in a bad economy, due to standing up against a participating in a broadcast glorifying strip clubs. Another difficult situation, for which we had no real answers was about a friend of one of our members, who was forbidden to wear a cross to work. That does seem a bit over the top, unless other religious symbols as jewelry are also banned. There are of course times when we need to protest and make sure our voices are heard, but perhaps that particular instance doesn’t rise to that level.
So we first read Daniel 6: 1-9 and then started discussing. Daniel seems to have distinguished himself simply by doing a good job and being blessed by God, which reminds one of Joseph in Egypt. The king rewarded him with a responsible position, overseeing those in charge of about 1/3 of the kingdom. Then the king decides to give Daniel the top job. You can imagine the other two governors were pretty jealous. In fact, I looked at this again in one of my bibles and they observed that King Darius was at best, a little naive, not to have expected such a response. At any rate, the other two start plotting against Daniel, first trying to dig up some dirt about him. Hey sounds just like the politicians we have now, dig up whatever you can to discredit your rival. They checked out all they could find about money, sex and power abuses, but Daniel came up squeaky clean. But envy is a strong motivator, so they decided to use religion as a tool against him.
They go to the king and convince him to make a law that his subjects all have to worship him. It doesn’t sound like the king hesitated much on the decision, he pretty much rubber stamps it. Now Daniel simply continues praying to God, 3 times a day, in front of his window, just as he has always done. He obviously knew about the law and the consequences. We are not given much of a clue to his thoughts on the matter. Some of us thought he simply had firm faith the God would deliver him. Others thought he may have had doubts, but like his friends, figured God might either deliver him or take him home, but either way, God had some sort of plan to use the situation. Mind you, Daniel had already been instrumental in getting the previous two kings to acknowledge God’s power and wisdom.
So the two schemers get Daniel arrested, and the king spends the rest of the day trying to figure out how to get him out of the punishment. But there is a policy that the laws, once made, cannot be changed, so his hands are tied. Actually that, in itself was a law, but we all wondered what the purpose was. It would seem that the king of an empire should certainly be able to override his own law, especially when he finds it being manipulated by his underlings. So Daniel is thrown to the lions, but in the process, the king himself calls on Daniel’s God for deliverance. Hmm, perhaps God does have a hand in all of this.
The king spends a sleepless night, then checks on Daniel in the morning. Of course, he is still alive, so he is released. Then the king punishes the others who plotted the whole thing by throwing them in the pit, along with their wives and kids, all of whom are instantly devoured. Okay, the wives and kids bothered us. What did they have to do with it? Life was certainly brutal in the Old Testament times.
Anyway, the result is that the king tells everyone in the kingdom they have to worship Daniel’s God because He has proven His power to save. This is God’s plan in it all. You have to wonder, if it were done any other way, would the king have been convinced to worship God, along with all his subjects?
Then we spent some time looking at first Peter and talking about submitting to God and then resisting the devil. We also talked some about strength of character, which comes from our relationship to Him. The more we trust Him, the better we are able to stand up against whatever adversity comes our way.