The LORD observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil. – Genesis 6:5
3 Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient. We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy, and we hated each other.
4 But – When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love,
5 he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.
6 He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior.
In Independence Day, Roland Emmerich’s 1996 film, are aliens seeking to destroy Earth. Independence Day was a classic of its time. As Captain Steven Hiller, Will Smith is entrusted with leading the charge against these alien beings with malicious and murderous intent.
Will Smith is puzzled as to why the aliens are in the attack mode. He says incredulously, “Look, I really don’t think they flew ninety billion lightyears to come down here and start a fight, get all rowdy.”
What he underestimated was the malicious intent of pure evil.
REFLECT & PRAY
It seems so tragic that everyone under the sun suffers the same fate. That is why people are not more careful to be good. Instead, they choose their own mad course, for they have no hope (Ecclesiastes 9:3).
Father thank You. Against all odds, You have continuously managed to do what is impossible with people. Indeed all things are possible with You. May Your will indeed be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Malicious intent can often be driven by greed, jealousy, prejudice, the desire for personal gain, or simply to get one’s own way. People who are corrupt and want what they want at any cost. They will use any means necessary to achieve their goals. Indeed for them, “Everything is on the table.” They probe for weaknesses and seek advantages. If they find none, they will cleverly devise a trap to ensnare those that stand in their way. So it was with Daniel.
Daniel had an extraordinary reputation from his service record to the kings of Babylon. He was intelligent, wise, honest, above reproach, and had an uncanny ability to see and interpret things that other people could not. He was known for his integrity and loyalty since he was a youth. Daniel had been careful to keep his personal life pure in every way. Try as they might, his enemies could bring no charge against him.
What could they do to get rid of him? They deviously plotted. They contrived to create a law that was not intended to be kept, but rather broken. It was much like a speed trap in American culture. A speed trap is designed to extract revenue from drivers instead of improving safety. Speed traps set the speed limit lower than the prevailing safe, flow of traffic. Violators receive a ticket, and forced to pay a fine which grows the coffers of the local government.
As Daniel’s enemies scrutinized his life, they realized that there was nothing to criticize or condemn. They concluded, “Our only chance of finding grounds for accusing Daniel will be in connection with the rules of his religion” (Daniel 6:5). With malicious intent, they created a civil law which would be at odds with Daniel’s practice of his faith. They are well aware that Daniel would always place his loyalty to the Father above obedience to man-made laws. As they unveiled their plans, they openly lied and deceived king Darius.
They requested that Darius sign into law a decree. It stipulated that for the next thirty days any person who prays to anyone, divine or human, except to him, would be thrown into the lion’s den. It appeared to king Darius to be a win-win situation. It required that each person in the Babylonian Kingdom acknowledge the authority of the Persians in all matters. Darius undoubtedly saw it as statesmanship of the highest order and would contribute to the unification of Persian rule. A one month time limit seemed reasonable. Then the people could resume their regular worship. What a plan!
Without further reflection, Darius signs the decree into law.
Now it is only a matter of time until Daniel is trapped and arrested. They surreptitiously spy on him and catch him in the very act of “unlawfully praying” to his God just as they knew he would.
They nailed him. Daniel was soon to be lion’s food. Now for all practical purposes their unrighteous laws will result in his certain cruel death through the lions clawed paws and voracious jaws.
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.
12 So they went straight to the king and reminded him about his law. “Did you not sign a law 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?” “Yes,” the king replied, “that decision stands; it is an official law of the Medes and Persians that cannot be revoked.”
Through their collusion, they created a law that was only meant to be broken. They had planned just how it would be broken and Daniel’s certain death.
Well things did not work out quite as they had meticulously planned. Their malicious intent came to naught. Their political ploy had not taken into consideration the reality and the supernatural power of the living God Whom Daniel served.
The roars of the hungry lions filled the air. Despite their captivity, they were still lions, doing what lions do. Their roars demanded food. Hunger was their recurrent companion and they seemed to smell a meal in the air. The commotion at the top of the pit had stirred them up. They could be heard leaping and clawing at the steep den walls, all the while roaring their displeasure (Foretold, Rodgers and Holtzman).
I can imagine Daniel’s prayer went something like this, “O Lord God my Savior, my protector. Save me now as you did with Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. For your glory, O Lord, show your power over these beasts. Please don’t let me die this way, but your will O my God be done, not mine. Strengthen me. Help me in my hour of need. If this is my last hour, let me go serving you in the way you choose” (Foretold, Rodgers and Holtzman).
The Father answered and sent His angel. You know the rest of the story. The Father sent His angel to protect Daniel through the night. Darius was impressed and furious. He saw to it that Daniel’s enemies were fed to the lions in his place. Then Darius issued a decree.
25 Then King Darius sent this message to the people of every race and nation and language throughout the world: “Peace and prosperity to you!”
26 “I decree that everyone throughout my kingdom should tremble with fear before the God of Daniel. For he is the living God, and he will endure forever. His kingdom will never be destroyed, and his rule will never end.”
27 “He rescues and saves his people; he performs miraculous signs and wonders in the heavens and on earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.”