Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Political Subterfuge!

This is the perfect story.
There is the hero.
There are the villans.
The mighty ruler of the land is, ironically, a bit player.
And after a battle to the death, the protagonist comes through unscathed.
The antagonists are destroyed.
And God is praised throughout the land!
This is the perfect story.

1 -3 Darius reorganized his kingdom. He appointed one hundred twenty governors to administer all the parts of his realm. Over them were three vice-regents, one of whom was Daniel. The governors reported to the vice-regents, who made sure that everything was in order for the king.

New government. New organization. That has been going on for millenia.

But Daniel, brimming with spirit and intelligence, so completely outclassed the other vice-regents and governors that the king decided to put him in charge of the whole kingdom.

Wow! Our boy, Daniel is the hero. Classy. Smart. Spiritual. Integrous. And he is accelerated to the head of the pack.

But wait! This is politics. Do politics ever get dirty?

4 -5 The vice-regents and governors got together to find some old scandal or skeleton in Daniel's life that they could use against him, but they couldn't dig up anything. He was totally exemplary and trustworthy. They could find no evidence of negligence or misconduct. So they finally gave up and said, "We're never going to find anything against this Daniel unless we can cook up something religious."

They couldn't find dirt. But they could find religion. That should do...

6 -7 The vice-regents and governors conspired together and then went to the king and said, "King Darius, live forever! We've convened your vice-regents, governors, and all your leading officials, and have agreed that the king should issue the following decree:
For the next thirty days no one is to pray to any god or mortal except you, O king. Anyone who disobeys will be thrown into the lions' den.
8 "Issue this decree, O king, and make it unconditional, as if written in stone like all the laws of the Medes and the Persians."
9 King Darius signed the decree.

Aha! The trap is set. Would he fall into it, or would he put off his religion. Just for a month...

10 When Daniel learned that the decree had been signed and posted, he continued to pray just as he had always done. His house had windows in the upstairs that opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he knelt there in prayer, thanking and praising his God.

Whoa! This is too easy. He is in flagrant violation of the laws of the land. He MUST be punished...

11 -12 The conspirators came and found him praying, asking God for help. They went straight to the king and reminded him of the royal decree that he had signed. "Did you not," they said, "sign a decree forbidding anyone to pray to any god or man except you for the next thirty days? And anyone caught doing it would be thrown into the lions' den?"
"Absolutely," said the king. "Written in stone, like all the laws of the Medes and Persians."
13 Then they said, "Daniel, one of the Jewish exiles, ignores you, O king, and defies your decree. Three times a day he prays."

Gotcha! The favorite political game of all time.

14 At this, the king was very upset and tried his best to get Daniel out of the fix he'd put him in. He worked at it the whole day long.
15 But then the conspirators were back: "Remember, O king, it's the law of the Medes and Persians that the king's decree can never be changed."
16 The king caved in and ordered Daniel brought and thrown into the lions' den. But he said to Daniel, "Your God, to whom you are so loyal, is going to get you out of this."

Daniel is dead. Now the conspirators can go to the next step - who would replace Daniel, now that he is dead?

17 A stone slab was placed over the opening of the den. The king sealed the cover with his signet ring and the signet rings of all his nobles, fixing Daniel's fate.

The king was caught in the trap too. He was stuck. He had killed off his vice president, whom he had come to appreciate, and, maybe, even love...

18 The king then went back to his palace. He refused supper. He couldn't sleep. He spent the night fasting.
19 -20 At daybreak the king got up and hurried to the lions' den. As he approached the den, he called out anxiously, "Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve so loyally, saved you from the lions?"

A crisis of faith. Not Daniel's faith. The king's faith. He knew ABOUT God. But he didn't KNOW God. It is hard to walk with God when you don't know Him.

21 -22 "O king, live forever!" said Daniel. "My God sent his angel, who closed the mouths of the lions so that they would not hurt me. I've been found innocent before God and also before you, O king. I've done nothing to harm you."

God, God almighty, had come through.

23 When the king heard these words, he was happy. He ordered Daniel taken up out of the den. When he was hauled up, there wasn't a scratch on him. He had trusted his God.

What happened to the antagonists? The villians? The bad guys?

24 Then the king commanded that the conspirators who had informed on Daniel be thrown into the lions' den, along with their wives and children. Before they hit the floor, the lions had them in their jaws, tearing them to pieces.

Wow! That was satisfying. The same lions. The same pit. Different result. They ripped the folks to pieces before they even hit the floor! Gruesome! Violent! R Rated...

Conclusion? Wonderful. God is in heaven. His servant is safe. And the king issues a decree...

25 -27 King Darius published this proclamation to every race, color, and creed on earth: Peace to you! Abundant peace!
I decree that Daniel's God shall be worshiped and feared
in all parts of my kingdom.
He is the living God,
world without end.
His kingdom never falls.
His rule continues eternally.
He is a savior and rescuer.
He performs astonishing miracles in heaven and on earth.
He saved Daniel from the power of the lions.

And Daniel lived happily ever after...

28 From then on, Daniel was treated well during the reign of Darius, and also in the following reign of Cyrus the Persian.

Oh I wish all stories ended this well...

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