Jan Johnson

Wisbit - November 2016

Politics, But Not as Usual

Forget the idea that the account of Daniel in the lion’s den often is a warm, fuzzy story about being protecting no matter what. It’s a story of political intrigue and backstabbing.

Consider the young Jewish boy Daniel who had been taken captive and enslaved around the age of 16, and then subjected to the reprogramming of the Babylonian culture (now the nation of Iraq). He is groomed to become a bureaucrat in their government and moves up through the ranks.

But the reprogramming didn’t take. No politics as usual for him. He stayed connected to God, relying on God’s standards (Dan 1:8-17) and praying on his knees three times a day, asking God for help. (What a great picture of a politician!)

By the time of Lion’s Den-gate, Daniel is probably in his 60s, working hard under the 4th dictator of the 5 dictators he would eventually serve. By this time, Persia has conquered Babylonia, but Daniel has survived, “distinguishing himself among the administrators by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom.” (Dan 6:3). The other administrators’ aren’t happy and look for a way to run him down. However, they “could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent.”

Ever resourceful, they propose a law that makes it a crime for Daniel to pray. King Darius is distraught, but Daniel is hauled off to the lion’s den to be eaten alive. I wonder what he was thinking as he was escorted to and lowered into the pit of lions. If it had been me, I would have been terrified and entrenched in negative thinking (I’m guessing Daniel didn’t):

  • I don’t deserve this! I’m the good guy! Why is God so unfair?
  • People always bash us Jews. We never had a chance!
  • I’ve put up with this for 4+ decades. I’m tired! It’s over!
  • I knew this would happen someday. It’s not easy being loyal to ancient tyrants. You never know when the ax will fall.
  • I knew these guys would bash me. This was bound to happen because I’m better than they are.

Meeting God in ScriptureBut Daniel doesn’t die. As Dallas Willard used to say, “The lions were probably more afraid of Daniel than he was of them.” Why? because Daniel lived in the Kingdom of God and its power, comfort and protection.

I try to picture Daniel in this pit full of predators. Did he sing as Paul and Silas did in prison? Did he talk to the lions? Was he so relaxed that he napped? Most outrageous of all, did he pray for his enemies? How did Daniel roll so well with changing dictators and political intrigue? King Darius recognized the reason and issued a decree for all to “reverence the God of Daniel.

    For he is the living God  and he endures forever;
        his kingdom will not be destroyed,
        his dominion will never end.
    He rescues and he saves;
        he performs signs and wonders  in the heavens and on the earth.” (Dan 6:26-27)

(To meditate on the entire passage, see pp. 74-79 of Meeting God in Scripture.)
This passage radiates the principal ideas of
Apprentice Experience:
I am one in whom Christ delights and dwells, and
I live in the strong and unshakeable Kingdom of God.”

Grace and peace,
Jan Johnson



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