August 16, 2011

Wednesday after the Eighth Sunday after Trinity

Wednesday after the Eighth Sunday after Trinity

Lectionary

Morning - Ps. 119:1-96, 1 Sam. 12:19, Lk. 16:1-18
Evening - Ps. 119:112-117, Dan. 6:16-23, 25-27, Acts 27:9-26

Commentary

Darius moves from signing an immoral and wicked law, to actually enforcing it. He commands Daniel to be thrown to the lions. When he made the law he was guilty of gross negligence, idolatry, arrogance, and abuse of power. Now, enforcing the law, he becomes guilty of attempted murder. If Daniel dies in the lions' den, Darius is guilty of actual murder. His remark that God will deliver Daniel (6:16) does not absolve him of guilt.

Darius must have known about the death of Belshazzar, so his sleepless night was probably as much about his own fear of God as it was about concern for Daniel. Belshazzar was struck down for abusing objects from the House of God. What would God do to a man who killed a prophet of God? The king may have faced danger and death if he had withstood his enemies. They may have been able to dethrone him, and even execute him. But that would have been better than the reason for his sleepless night while Daniel remained in danger. It is no wonder he passed the night in fasting, and his sleep went from him (6:18).

Like Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar, Darius recognises the reality of the God of Daniel, yet he is a long way from being a convert to Biblical faith. Calling Daniel the servant of the Living God (6:20) is more of a question than a statement. Even his decree in 6:26 is not a conversion to the religion of God, but merely adding Him to the other gods of the empire. It is very easy to seek God because one is moved by guilt or other external circumstances. But crisis conversions are not always true conversions. It is those who remain steadfast to the end who will be saved.

Once again we see God intervening in history to work His will on earth. Had Daniel died in the lions' den, an empire wide persecution of all praying Jews would have practically wiped Biblical faith of the face of the earth. But God is able to deliver His people individually and as a nation. One of the major points of the book of Daniel is that God preserves His people to return them to Jerusalem and continue as His Covenant people. Through them the Saviour will come into the world, enabling the purpose of God to be accomplished on earth.

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