Death v. Light

The war for civilization.

Daniel 6:6–9

So these governors and satraps thronged before the king, and said thus to him: “King Darius, live forever! All the governors of the kingdom, the administrators and satraps, the counselors and advisors, have consulted together to establish a royal statute and to make a firm decree, that whoever petitions any god or man for thirty days, except you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions. Now, O king, establish the decree and sign the writing, so that it cannot be changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which does not alter.” Therefore King Darius signed the written decree.

If Darius really knew his favorite governor (or his faith), he would never have signed this decree. The other governors and satraps can lay this trap because they know about Daniel’s prayer life and about his absolute commitment to it.

But Darius doesn’t. The history of Daniel with Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar must not have been known to the invading Medes and Persians.

Notice the stamp of the forces of spiritual evil here. They always want death and they want it as gruesome as possible. This plan has that in spades.

God’s priority? Spiritual awakening leading to knowledge of Him. Darius deserves credit for recognizing Daniel’s talent quickly, but he’s in the dark spiritually.

Light is coming.

The role of the law of the Medes and Persians in this saga is important, but the law itself is worth paying attention to. The existence of a permanent law that even the king must obey means that the nation was more than just a tribe. Permanent law is the foundation of civilization. In this case, they only had one permanent law—not all the laws were permanent—but that’s a good start.

Prior to the development of the concept of permanent law, the law was simply whatever the king said. It could change overnight with a new king. That’s what happened to Israel when Egypt got a new Pharaoh who didn’t know Joseph. Bang! Instant slavery.

The earliest permanent laws, such as the Ten Commandments and the code of Hammurabi, changed all that. Permanent law is what makes civilization civilized.

Permanence makes the law about justice instead of power. It’s the source of many basic principles in our legal system (e.g., ex post facto and stare decisis).

It’s why we post the Ten Commandments on courthouse walls.

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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