In my last post entitled – An Excellent Man – we started looking at Daniel chapter 6. We learned that the King Darius had divided the empire into 120 regions headed up by governors (or satraps), and over them were three commissioners. Daniel was one of these three, but was so successful he was on course to be promoted above them all. Burning with jealousy, the others tried to find a way to accuse Daniel but found nothing. He was exemplary and a man of integrity. One of Daniel’s strengths was his faith and dedication to God, so they attempt to use that to trap him.
6 Then these commissioners and satraps agreed to approach the king and said to him, “King Darius, live forever! 7 All the commissioners of the kingdom, the prefects and the satraps, the counselors and the governors have consulted and agreed together that the king should establish a royal statute and enforce an injunction that anyone who petitions (prays to) any god or man besides you, O king, during the next thirty days, shall be thrown into the den of lions. 8 Now, O king, establish the injunction and sign the document so that it may not be changed, in accordance with the law of the Medes and Persians, which [insures that it] may not be altered or revoked.” 9 So King Darius signed the document, that is, the injunction.
10 Now when Daniel knew that the document was signed, he went into his house (now in his roof chamber his windows were open toward Jerusalem); he continued to get down on his knees three times a day, praying and giving thanks before his God, as he had been doing previously.Daniel 6:6-10 (AMP)
The governors and commissioners go to the king and encourage him to enact a new law. “Wouldn’t it be a great idea O King, if no one prayed to any God or man except for you!” King Darius agrees this would be a splendid idea – not his most humble moment. What is driving him here? He’s been flattered by the governors, and the idea that he could wield ultimate power by being the only one people can pray to is appealing to his ego.
Last time, we noted that the jealousy of the officials was driven by selfishness, and them not wanting to look bad next to the excellent Daniel. Here, the king indulges in his own form of selfishness, imagining himself as a god before the people. With a wave of his hand, he can grant or deny their requests, and he bestows on himself the power to be above god, idol or man.
So, he signs the law…
What does Daniel do? It is now forbidden for him to pray to his God – the One True God.
Daniel returns home, opens the windows wide, and prays to God three times a day, just as he always did. Let me ask you, if you were in his shoes, would you have done the same thing?
I have asked myself this question more than once. It is very difficult to know exactly what me might do when it comes down to it. I hope I would indeed pray to God as before, but I’d perhaps keep the windows shut! How about you? Ask yourself. Be honest.
We live in a world which is growing increasingly hostile to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If you live in the West (like me) then you have enjoyed relative religious freedom for probably all of your life. While we may be mocked for our faith, we are usually in little danger of losing our life for it. That is not so in many parts of the world. In some nations, such as Nigeria, many believers are being martyred simply for believing in Jesus. They face a daily choice of discipleship or death. It is hard for us to imagine such a thing.
Daniel faced that very same choice. Would he compromise his faith or would he break the Law? He chose to break the Law and absolutely refuses to compromise what he believes.
We must do likewise. We should absolutely follow the laws of the land, living quiet and peaceful lives. Refusing to compromise our faith does not give us the right to break whatever law we choose, or to start violent protests. Where we have the luxury, we should use the democratic process to make our views – Christian views – known and upheld. If we are forbidden to worship God or to pray to Him, even if it costs us our lives, then we must follow Christ. We do not seek death of course, nor trouble or trial, but if in the course of following Jesus we lose our earthly life, then we will be fully compensated in the life that is to come.
Easier said than done though I suspect!
I am reminded of the disciples from Acts:
So they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. 20 For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.”Acts 4:18-20 (NKJV)
Even if your life is never threatened for reason of your faith, please do remember those who are. Pray for your Christian brothers and sisters who face death daily in order to meet with fellow believers or to just hold a Bible.
This is not an easy post to write or live out, so do take the time to ponder both this passage and your response to it. Ask the Lord to strengthen your faith for times of need. And thank God for the religious freedom many of us do enjoy.