Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Walking into the Lions' Den

“Now, when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem.  Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.”  Daniel 6:10

Lesson 6 of the Bible Study of the book of Daniel presents to us the familiar story of Daniel in the den of lions.  This is a story that Christians hear since they are young children in Sunday School, VBS and kid’s clubs all over the world.  However, now we are to study it as adults; and as adults, we are to pray for discernment so the Holy Spirit will transform this old story into solid food that will feed our soul and renew our minds.

In the video session, Beth Moore talked about ways in which we can react when faced with an emergency situation.  She pointed out that we can react either with panic, which makes us do the wrong thing; or we can become paralyzed, which makes us do nothing; or we can pray, which makes us do the power thing.  The only reaction that could bring a positive result is, obviously, to pray.  However, prayer as a first reaction doesn’t come easily.  We have to work at it.  We have to persist until prayer becomes our default.  As we see in the text above, after Daniel heard about the decree that had been issued, which stated that anyone found praying to any god or man other than King Darius in the next 30 days, would be thrown into the lions’ den; he reacted by doing what he always did.  He knew nothing else to do as a reaction to a difficult situation, but to get down on his knees and pray.  He didn’t go see the King, whom had appointed him as one of his administrators to try to convince him that the decree was wrong.  He didn’t plea for his life with the other administrators and satraps.  He didn’t try to hide his praying.  He did “just as he had done before.”  He went to his usual place and prayed.  He knew what was coming, but he did not back down.  He prayed and he let them throw him into the den of lions. 
The discussion in the session revolved around our reactions to emergencies.  The meditations where mostly about how we react when we suddenly find ourselves in a crisis.  This is the most common scenario, since not many people willingly walk themselves into a difficult situation.  However, sometimes, we know we are going to have to stick our heads into the lions’ den.  We see it approaching.  We know we are going to have to face a giant, and we know that we are going to have to do it alone with God.  How do we do this?  How do we react when we face the imminent assignment?  Do we tremble in fear and try to get out of it?  Do we ignore the call and pretend it is not our job to do this?  Do we try to bargain with God as to find a way to rationalize not doing it?  How do we take ourselves, by our own two feet, into the den of lions?  How do we come face to face with our giant?  How do we not cave under the pressure and melt under the fire of our fear? 
Daniel knew that remaining obedient to God would get him into the lions’ den, but he trusted in the Lord’s deliverance.  He prayed and gave thanks to Him, who had been faithful before and would be faithful again.  He probably recited all the many times in which the Lord had shown him His face and mercy; and he thanked Him for each and every one of those instances.    Likewise, David knew that it had come a point when he would be the one to challenge Goliath.  He refused the king’s armor and settled for what he knew best, the weapons of a shepherd, and the knowledge that The LORD who had rescued him from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue him from the hand of the Philistine. (1 Samuel 17: 37)  The assurance of God’s deliverance was enough for these two men to be fearlessly obedient.  The knowledge of God’s eternal faithfulness brought them strength to face the trial.  The memory of such faithfulness in their own lives brought them the comfort in the difficult hour. 
The Maker of the heavens and the Earth, is able to change and to use any situation for His purpose and for the good of those who put their trust in Him.  We know that He will either deliver us from, through or by the trials we face.  We know that He gives us the peace that surpasses all understanding and we know that He is with us always.  Therefore, we arm ourselves with what we know about Him.  We clothe ourselves in the knowledge of His unfailing love and reliable faithfulness, and we walk right into the den where the beast awaits.  By doing so, we will encounter the angel of the Lord in all His glory, and he will shut the mouth of the lion so we are able walk out of there unharmed.  The Lord will work out His purpose through us thanks to our obedience and He will reward us with His presence.  It might not turn out the way we expected it; but we can be sure that the way it turns out is better than we could’ve ever dreamed it would’ve. 
As we meet our lions and face our giants, let us remember Paul’s words in his lonely hour:
“16 At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them.17 But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth. 18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory for ever and ever. Amen.”  2 Timothy 4:17-18

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