1 December 2023Daniel 6:6-23
'Now, O king, establish the interdict and sign the document, so that it cannot be changed, according to the law of the Medes and the Persians, which cannot be revoked.’ (v. 8)
This is probably the best-known passage from the whole of the book of Daniel and one of the most told Old Testament stories in children's work. As such we might suffer from a sense of over-familiarity with it which might reduce its impact. As a Methodist I want to suggest three points from this passage:
First, God saves. This is the most obvious point made to children. Daniel is saved from the lions by God and Christians connect this with Jesus as saviour, the one who saves us. Yet, the two understandings can be quite different, although this will vary across Christian traditions and theologies. In particular, there is a wide range of understandings of Jesus as saviour. Some will understand Jesus as saving us from a broken relationship with God caused by our sin. Others will extend this to Jesus saving us from physical things, some will understand Jesus as one who saves us from cancer, poverty etc. If we have known this story for a long time then we might have assumptions about what it means for God to save. It would be healthy to reflect on what we think: have we grown in our faith and understanding?
Second, living faithfully has consequences. Living as a disciple can require standing out in society, not following social norms and, in the case of Daniel, it can mean breaking the law. Again we see a wide variety of Christian understandings of this and it can mean there are those willing to break the law to avoid taxes funding wars; to protest against injustice; and to put their careers or lives at risk to serve the vulnerable.
Third, we see the terrible consequences that ensue from a system built upon never making a mistake or changing one's mind. There are too many cases in scripture where leaders were considered infallible or that it was impossible to change their mind or a law. The consequences are terrible and the fundamental causes are pride, love of status and a lack of self-awareness. A key lesson is that we can prevent a lot of harm if we are willing to admit we make mistakes and if we make changes and do not let others live with the consequences.
- How do you understand the phrase 'Jesus saves'? Has your understanding of it changed, and, if so, how has it changed?
- What consequences does living faithfully have for you? How do you feel about that?
- Where have you admitted you got things wrong and changed to avoid hurting others? Where might more changes be needed?