Our mid-week bible study has been working through the book of Daniel recently. Today was chapter 6 – the one story that everyone thinks they know, but really don’t.
It is the story of how jealous officials convinced King Darius (is it pronounced Dare-EE-us or Dar-EYE-us?) to issue an edict that no one should pray to anyone or any god other than Darius for the next 30 days, and of Daniel who, upon learning of the new law, promptly went to his upstairs room and flung open the windows so that everyone could see him praying to his God, and how he was subsequently thrown into and protected in the lion’s pit.
Our conversation centered on how easy it would have been for Daniel to have avoided the whole issue altogether. He could have prayed in secret. He could have kept the windows closed. He could have just not prayed for 30 days. But no. Daniel purposefully, willfully and with premeditation, broke the law. Flagrantly broke the law.
The commentary I had close at hand had an especially striking quote from John Calvin for this passage: “Earthly princes deprive themselves of all authority when they rise up against God, yea, they are unworthy to be counted amongst the company of men. We ought rather to spit in their faces than to obey them when they …spoil God of his right.”[i]
It’s curious to me how the bible gets all twisted up and used to make Christians into “good little citizens” saluting the flag and pledging allegiance to this or that country. When was the last time any of us spat into the face of our senators? When was the last time we flagrantly broke the law in order to be true to God?