The presidents and satraps came along in a body and found Daniel praying and pleading with God. They then came to the king and said, ‘Have you not just signed an edict forbidding any man for the next thirty days to pray to anyone, god or man, other than to yourself O king, on pain of being thrown into the lions’ den?’ ‘The decision stands,’ the king replied ‘as befits the law of the Medes and the Persians, which cannot be revoked.’ Then they said to the king, ‘O king, this man Daniel, one of the exiles from Judah, disregards both you and the edict which you have signed: he is at his prayers three times each day.’ When the king heard these words he was deeply distressed, and determined to save Daniel; he racked his brains until sunset to find some way out. But the men came back in a body to the king and said, ‘O king, remember that in conformity with the law of the Medes and the Persians, no edict or decree can be altered when once issued by the king.’
The king then ordered Daniel to be fetched and thrown into the lion pit. The king said to Daniel, ‘Your God himself, whom you have served so faithfully, will have to save you.’ A stone was then brought and laid over the mouth of the pit; and the king sealed it with his own signet and with that of his noblemen, so that there could be no going back on the original decision about Daniel. The king returned to his palace, spent the night in fasting and refused to receive any of his concubines. Sleep eluded him, and at the first sign of dawn he was up, and hurried off to the lion pit. As he approached the pit he shouted in anguished tones, ‘Daniel, servant of the living God! Has your God, whom you serve so faithfully, been able to save you from the lions?’ Daniel replied, ‘O king, live for ever! My God sent his angel who sealed the lions’ jaws, they did me no harm, since in his sight I am blameless, and I have never done you any wrong either, O king.’ The king was overjoyed, and ordered Daniel to be released from the pit. Daniel was released from the pit, and found to be quite unhurt, because he had trusted in his God. The king sent for the men who had accused Daniel and had them thrown into the lion pit, they, their wives and their children: and they had not reached the floor of the pit before the lions had seized them and crushed their bones to pieces.
King Darius then wrote to men of all nations, peoples and languages throughout the world, ‘May peace be always with you! I decree: in every kingdom of my empire let all tremble with fear before the God of Daniel: ‘He is the living God, he endures for ever, his sovereignty will never be destroyed and his kingship never end. He saves, sets free, and works signs and wonders in the heavens and on earth; he has saved Daniel from the power of the lions.’
Jesus said to his disciples, ‘When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, you must realise that she will soon be laid desolate. Then those in Judaea must escape to the mountains, those inside the city must leave it, and those in country districts must not take refuge in it. For this is the time of vengeance when all that scripture says must be fulfilled. Alas for those with child, or with babies at the breast, when those days come! ‘For great misery will descend on the land and wrath on this people. They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive to every pagan country; and Jerusalem will be trampled down by the pagans until the age of the pagans is completely over. ‘There will be signs in the sun and moon and stars; on earth nations in agony, bewildered by the clamour of the ocean and its waves; men dying of fear as they await what menaces the world, for the powers of heaven will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand erect, hold your heads high, because your liberation is near at hand.’
How often do we find ourselves convinced by the illusions of life? The illusions that are born out of ego driven self-interest. The illusion of self-delusion that accompanies our idealizations of ourselves – the sense we have of ourselves which pride promotes and which humility brings back down to earth. The protective self-image that helps me to experience myself as good and worthwhile.
The inflated self-image of King Darius, soon falls to earth. Darius considers himself as beyond God with his edict that no one is to pray except to himself for thirty days. On the other hand, Daniel declines the seduction of power, prestige and pride, that is offered to him by Darius in payment for his wisdom – and knows that his true identity and his wisdom, finds its source in his God.
Jesus says, “your liberation is near at hand Christ”. The liberation that comes to us through him is from the illusions we have of ourselves and the world around us through the lens of these prides and idealizations.
Our worth is found not in our own merits or achievements or our perceptions of ourselves, but wholly in how God sees us. I am created in the image of the Creator.