Friday, March 25, 2011

He prayed three times a day, just as he had always done

Dan. 6: 1-10 NLT
   1 Darius the Mede decided to divide the kingdom into 120 provinces, and he appointed a high officer to rule over each province. 2 The king also chose Daniel and two others as administrators to supervise the high officers and protect the king’s interests. 3 Daniel soon proved himself more capable than all the other administrators and high officers. Because of Daniel’s great ability, the king made plans to place him over the entire empire. 
   4  Then the other administrators and high officers began searching for some fault in the way Daniel was handling government affairs, but they couldn’t find anything to criticize or condemn. He was faithful, always responsible, and completely trustworthy. 5 So they concluded, “Our only chance of finding grounds for accusing Daniel will be in connection with the rules of his religion.” 
   6  So the administrators and high officers went to the king and said, “Long live King Darius! 7 We are all in agreement—we administrators, officials, high officers, advisers, and governors—that the king should make a law that will be strictly enforced. Give orders that for the next thirty days any person who prays to anyone, divine or human—except to you, Your Majesty—will be thrown into the den of lions. 8 And now, Your Majesty, issue and sign this law so it cannot be changed, an official law of the Medes and Persians that cannot be revoked.” 9 So King Darius signed the law. 
   10 But when Daniel learned that the law had been signed, he went home and knelt down as usual in his upstairs room, with its windows open toward Jerusalem. He prayed three times a day, just as he had always done, giving thanks to his God. 11 Then the officials went together to Daniel’s house and found him praying and asking for God’s help. (continued next time)

Faithful Daniel, having served generations of kings, next became a senior official in the reign of the very king that had, at God's planned time, defeated Babylon's silly latest king who dared to challenge God. The messages about the miracles performed by God where kings were concerned was, no doubt, circulating around the empires so the stories of the fiery furnace, and of Nebuchadnezzar's seven years in the wild outback, surely were widely told. Now a new king, Darius, over the Meado Persian empire, who had just defeated and assumed rule over the Babylonian empire was to learn the lesson of humility and of the power of God.

It is always the case that people in high power positions are surrounded by others who want to manipulate them for personal gain. Darius had appointed Daniel to be one of three to rule the kingdom and was about to become prime minister-- a position he had fulled well under Nebuchadnezzar for decades. The other leaders and their supporters probably Meado-Persians and not all that familiar with the events in Babylon, where Daniel and the Hebrews were concerned, began the same old scene. Let's trick the king into making a harsh law that will only serve to single out and remove Daniel-- his favorite-- from being over us. Foolish arrogance, to be sure!

Their proposal may have made sense as this was a time when Darius should be consolidating his leadership control over the newly gained part of his empire. Flattery and deception go hand in hand where politics are concerned. Others in the political tree also joined into the plot so that many top officials proposed the idea. Darius should sign a law (irrevocable under their culture) saying that only the Emperor might be worshiped, prayed to, or otherwise adulated for the following 30 days.

For sure Darius was smarter than it might seem, but in such a culture, a top leader is often susceptible to the influence of flattery and can be turned in a direction that he or she will eventually regret. This is a reason to make our leadership founded deeply on humility in fully surrender to the Lord Jesus Christ. We ought to make our daily prayers, as leaders, asking that we do only that which is aligned with the will of God, rather than our own.  We will be more effective as leaders and we will be more helpful to clients, constituents, and colleagues.

Next time we shall 'the rest of the story.'  For now, the great lesson is in Daniel's response to the obvious plot. It was not new to Daniel, he had experienced it all before. His response was to be very deliberate about his praise and worship of God first. Regardless of what others said, thought, or did, Daniel had always worshipped God and would continue to do so. Oh that we can be as faithful under pressure as was this great leader whom God had prepared across the years.

Your servant,

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