As they walked they compared notes, talking lightly in hobbit-fashion of the things that had happened since their capture. No listener would have guessed from their words that they had suffered cruelly, and been in dire peril, going without hope towards torment and death; or that even now, as they knew well, they had little chance of ever finding friend or safety again. –The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, “The Uruk-Hai,” p. 458, 50th Anniversary One-Volume Edition, J.R.R. Tolkien, ©2004, Harper Collins, reprinted by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing, New York, NY, USA
And they brought them [Paul and Silas] to the magistrates, and said, “These men, being Jews, exceedingly trouble our city; and they teach customs which are not lawful for us, being Romans, to receive or observe.” Then the multitude rose up together against them; and the magistrates tore off their clothes and commanded them to be beaten with rods. And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them securely. Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stock. But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. –Acts 16.20-25
…the days are evil…be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord… –Ephesians 5.16b,18-19
Reporting Truth to the Corners of the World
BABYLON—The entire populace of our city is reeling from the news of this morning’s events at the palace. One hundred and twenty-two of the government’s officials have been thrown into the king’s lion’s den. All of Babylon was awakened to the news of the king’s decree that all the kingdom of Babylon must worship the God of his vice regent Daniel.
This new decree abolishes the previous day’s decree condemning anyone for praying to any god other than the king for the next 30 days. The 122 officials are now sport for the hungry lions for their attempt to make sport of Daniel, the king’s vice regent.
Daniel is one of three governors that King Darius appointed to oversee the royal satraps in the Babylonian provinces throughout the kingdom. Our news service learned early this morning that Daniel miraculously survived an entire night sealed in confinement as the only supper for the king’s hungry lions. Daniel’s service in the Babylonian government dates back to the days of King Nebuchadnezzar. The former king of Babylon took Daniel from among the Jewish captives who survived the Babylonian conquest of the two kingdoms of Israel and Judah to the west. The king’s chronicles record that Daniel’s tour of service here has been characterized by uncommon reverence for the leadership of the kingdom. Nebuchadnezzar raised Daniel to a favored place in his court after three of Daniel’s kinsmen miraculously survived the most dreaded punishment in the kingdom: the king’s fiery furnace. The king had sentenced Daniel’s Hebrew compatriots for their refusal to worship the images of our Babylonian gods.
Daniel’s posture toward the leadership of the kingdom has never stooped to militance or treachery in order to gain the king’s favor or to influence the legislative system in Babylonian government. On the contrary, Daniel has honored the king even when his own life was in danger because of a law to which his conscience prevented his obedience. Daniel’s strategy in such instances has consistently been to pray to his God. Sources inside the palace report that Daniel’s habit in his 60+ years of exile has been his discipline of prayer to his God three times daily. The kings of Babylon have become so accustomed to Daniel’s habit of prayer that they consider it one of his duties of state. Every king from Nebuchadnezzar till now has highly commended Daniel of Judah for his loyalty as a subject of the Babylonian Empire. Yet Daniel has never abandoned his identity and spiritual heritage as a citizen of Israel.
Sources inside the palace report that Daniel’s colleagues in government sought to legislate against his right to retain his spiritual convictions. Their objective appears to have been the removal of Daniel from his place of favor in the king’s cabinet. Sources close to King Darius report that their strategy consisted of obtaining the king’s seal on a law that they secretly drafted to condemn to death in the lion’s den every person in the kingdom who prays to any god or man other than the king for 30 days. Their draft of the law became effective 24 hours ago, and it granted authority to these government leaders to levy the death penalty for a period of thirty days from its issue. They knew that once signed and sealed by the king, such a law could not be changed. No one was exempt from this law. Unaware of the objective of his officials, King Darius signed the decree. Shortly afterward, the PRESS received reports that the palace prison facilities were being expanded and more lions were being captured to handle the multitude of prisoners expected from enforcement of such a decree. The result of this decree promised to be a bloody holocaust, the first of the condemned being Daniel of Judah. Palace sources report that Daniel was seized during his habit of evening prayer in his private quarters. That law is now abolished with King Darius’ new decree issued this morning after Daniel’s miraculous exit from the lion’s den.
In an exclusive interview with Governor Daniel, I asked him the subject of his prayers for so many years. He confided that he was compelled to confess his own sins and the sins of his people. He thanks his God for mercies and kindnesses even here in his exile. His most urgent requests have been for his God’s forgiveness of sin, wisdom in leadership and the fulfillment of his God’s plan for the people by blessing or by affliction, in the Land of Israel or in exile. I asked Daniel what motivated him to pray to his God under such a mortal judgment as the latest anti-prayer law. He stated that prayer is like breathing and that even death could not break his communion with his God. If Daniel’s feline companions could talk, I wonder what they would report about Daniel’s prayer and Daniel’s God.
Daniel’s prayer habits appear to have made him a reliable spokesman before kings and before his God on behalf of himself and his people here in their Babylonian exile.
It is written in the Scriptures which Daniel has believed:
If My people who are called by My Name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways; then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.–2 Chronicles 7.14
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem…