I’ve been reading the Jesus Storybook Bible (actually it’s a bit advanced for me, I have been reading it to my daughters). We’ve recently reached the Daniel and the scary sleepover chapter.
We’ve enjoyed the book which is really well written. It manages to communicate what the Bible says in a way that is understandable for children (and parents).
For those of you unfamiliar with the events recorded in Daniel 6, here is a quick summary of the scary sleepover story.
Daniel and his friends had been taken captive from the land of Judah. They were forced to work as servants in the Babylonian empire but they also had the opportunity to gain promotion. Daniel and his friends kept faith in their God even though things in their lives were less than ideal.
If you were taken away to a foreign land against your will would you still follow and worship God?
God had blessed Daniel and he and his friends had found their way into the royal court. During their exile, they had experienced life under different kings but they had continued to find favour and had gained further promotion. At the beginning of the Scary Sleepover story, Daniel had just become the third highest ruler in the empire and then the Persians invaded (don’t you just hate it when that happens).
Under the new Persian King Darius, Daniel was kept on and after a short period of time he was going on the verge of being promoted to the head ruler of the empire. Now think about this from a Persian ruler’s point of view. You have been a loyal follower of your king for years, you have served him to the best of your ability and now when he is at the height of his power he has chosen some random Jew to rule instead of you.
It’s no wonder that the Persians in the royal court schemed against Daniel but they could find no fault in him. Frustrated by his lack of skeletons in the closet, they came up with a plan so cunning that you could stick a tail on it and call it a Weasel. They persuaded the King to pass a new law which stated that no one could pray to anyone except the King and if they did they would have a scary sleepover with some lions. They knew that Daniel would continue to pray and they were right.
What would you have done in Daniel’s position? After all, would God have minded if he had prayed secretly? Daniel’s custom was to pray with his windows open because even though Jews were a minority faith, he wanted to be seen when he prayed. Daniel wanted people to know that God answered prayers and he expressed his confidence in God by the way he prayed. Having made this choice to pray so people could see his faith in action, I can understand Daniel’s reluctance to make it look like he was stopping talking to God. Daniel was also a man of integrity, his enemies could find no fault with him. Daniel wasn’t going to deceive the King, he believed in being honest about what he was doing.
So Daniel prayed, the Persian rulers snuck off to the king like a group of tell-tale school children trying to make themselves look better by belittling others. Daniel was trapped in a cave full of lions because the king had been trapped into passing a foolish law.
As Daniel was being forced into the cave the king said, “May your God, whom you serve so faithfully, rescue you.” How good is that? Daniel had lived out his faith in such a way that it caused the King to pray.
The king was furious about the whole situation, he felt angry with himself for being ticked and he felt angry with those who had tricked him. He couldn’t sleep at all that night and first thing in the morning he hurried to the cave and shouted “Daniel, servant of the living God! Was your God, whom you serve so faithfully, able to rescue you from the lions?”
Daniel was alive, God had kept him safe. YAY GOD!! There is no comment of how Daniel was and whether he had slept or not, the emphasis is on God who had kept him safe.
The King proclaimed that everyone should worship and follow the God of Daniel. Well you would wouldn’t you? You see a miracle as dramatic as this and you are going to believe.
What an amazing story. a few thoughts for us to mull over.
- How will we live out our faith openly without worrying about hostility?
- How do we react when things go wrong. Do tragedies drive us towards God or away from him?
- Do we tell the people who we know about the way that God answers our prayers or performs a miracle? Your miracle may not involve lions, but it is real and relevant to you.
- When we feel like we are the only true believer, do we believe that God is greater? When we feel alone, the almighty God is with us. How can we rely on him rather than being discouraged by our situation?
What else strikes you about this story? It would be great if you could share your thoughts below.