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Sabbath: From the Lions’ Den to the Angel’s Den — 7 Comments

  1. The story of Daniel in the Lion's Den is probably one of the first Bible stories you heard as a child. I was taught the story in what was probably kindergarten Sabbath School, sitting around a sandbox with cut-out figures of lions and Daniel and Darius (who looked suspiciously like the same one used for Nebuchadnezzar just a week or two before). The implication was that we should be faithful like Daniel and God would look after us. What did being faithful mean to a four-year-old? Well being a good boy and not annoying Daddy and Mummy too much was the general impression that I got!

    I am not sure that our thinking has moved on all that much from the kindergarten view, except perhaps we talked about being faithful as being true to the doctrines of the church. It is only when we understand that throughout history the number of Christians who were killed by lions and other wild beasts outnumber those who were miraculously saved that you realise that a miraculous escape is not a measure of your faithfulness or moral rectitude.

    As I said when we discussed the Fiery Furnace story just a couple of weeks ago, the miracle was not to save the Hebrews but to set the scene for God's agenda in history. Daniel still had a job to do.

    I reiterate once again that we often pray for miracles with the idea of some personal benefit for ourselves or others, rather than for God's purpose to be fulfilled.

    John's story of the miracle of the blind man makes an important point (Read the whole chapter):

    And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. John 9:1-5KJV

    Being faithful unto death is not about closing the lions mouths or quenching the flames, or turning back the tides. It is about being faithful, period. It is about a relationship that is more important than death, not about rewards and miracles.

    We really need to develop our theology of non-miracles a lot more, because many of us will never experience a tangible physical miracle.

    • Sorry Maurice - but an amen alone was insufficent for me to affirm the signficance and importance of what you are highlighting.

      Thank you...

  2. Many a christian has one/more loop holes in their spiritual life; thereby given our adversaries the opportunity to find fault in us. No fault was found in Daniel. It Is Expedient for us to put on the whole armor of God so that there won't be fault in us.

  3. Hi Maurice
    Do you believe in miracles? Are you saying that we should not pray for miracles? I have experienced a miracle in my life and I also experienced when God did not answer our prayers for my niece who died of cancer at age 34. The only consolation I had when asking God why, was that she trusted God to the end. It is true, sometimes we do not get the answers we would like,but He hears our prayers.

    • The short answer is that I do believe in miracles. But I also believe that there are many claims for miracles that are somewhat spurious - and I have seen far too many of those. Two short stories that illustrate the point:

      When my grand-father-in-law was a little boy he developed tuberculosis. He lived in country NSW and was taken to the Sydney Adventist Hospital by boat and train - roads were dirt tracks in the bush in those days. At the hospital, the doctor told his parents that the best thing they could do was to take him home and keep him as comfortable as possible. They decided to have him anointed before returning home. In Pop's words: "I was sitting on the seat at Waitara railway station wrapped in blankets and propped up with pillows. My parents were busy purchasing tickets and ensuring their luggage was booked in, when I saw something interesting at the end of the platform. Without a second thought, I got up and walked to the item of interest. I remember I had no feeling of sickness or drowsiness, nor did I cough." His parents saw that he had disappeared and were horrified to find him 50m away from the seat where they left him. Pop said that he felt he was cured from that moment on, but his parents were not so sure and wrapped up again for the homeward journey. It soon became apparent that he was happy and, well and as mischievous as any young boy could be. Many years later when screening X-rays for TB became available, Pop was X-rayed and they found this dark spot on his lung. It was the scar tissue he had as a boy. I have to say that Pop became a powerful Christian witness and many families came to an understanding of what a relationship with Jesus really means. Family circumstances meant that Pop and Ma brought up Carmel and her sister and their generosity in doing so left their mark both Carmel and her sister.

      My second story is not so good but it is one that needs telling. When I was a student at College, we had a Week of Devotion run by the 4th year ministerial students. This particular year the leader of this group was a powerful preacher who could make even us cynical science students sit up and listen. A few weeks before the Week of Devotion this speaker let it be known that he had developed cancer and was not expected to live. He was annointed and as the Week of Devotion commenced it was announced that he had been to his doctor and they could find no trace of the cancer. He preached a powerful sermon for Vespers on Friday evening and had some of the students crying with emotion. it was very impressive. Then about a week later, the College Administration made the announcement that this speaker was still in need of our prayers because he had made the whole thing up. The College Administration, in its wisdom, had asked this student preacher for a medical report from his doctor and he was unable to do so. This episode occurred as I was reaching young adulthood and was probably the most cynical time of my life. Somewhere, I remembered the biblical admonition, "Prove all things! Hold fast that which is good!"

      I should add that the miracle I pray for is; that the love of Jesus is reflected in my own life to the people I come in contact with. And if that is the only miracle that personally affects me, I believe I will be quite satisfied.

      • I believe in miracles but miracles are for God’s glory not ours. In the story of Daniel we find God fulfilling the work that Israel was suppose to do before their apostasy. He was revealing himself to the nations around Israel. Darius’ decree after the Lions Den incident, made the God of Israel known throughout the world of their time.

        Not having experienced or seeing a miracle can be a great disappointment. The father of my college roommate, although raised in the SDA church and a very successful businessman, would always come to the same question when discussing religion, “ Why have I not seen a miracle or God revealed Himself to me personally “. I do not know if he was ever satisfied with this inquiry before his death. Despite his doubts about miracles and even the existence of God Himself, he was a good moral man and very well might end up in God’s kingdom. I’ll leave that to God.

        I contrast this very successful businessman who might have overlooked that his business success itself was a miracle, with my Grandmother who had 8 children she raised during the Great Depression years dealing with keeping everyone fed, outhouses, no central heat and the like in central Ohio non the less. She had simple faith in God that she made plain with one sentence I must have heard hundreds of times, “God said it, I believe it and that is good enough for me”. I would have to guess that despite not having much of anything in life, she was the happier of the two.

  4. I think the miracle was not just about being saved from the fiery furnace or the lions den. The miracle was that those 3 Hebrew boys were willing “even if our God does not save us...”, and Daniel, upon hearing of the decree, went home and opened his windows as usual, and knelt down and prayed. It seems that there is such a focus on experiencing miracles and not enough focus on knowing God and His will for our lives. In both of these stories, an earthly king acknowledged the God of Heaven as the only true God. That is the miracle we need to be looking for.


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