2 Peter 3:1-18
Daniel and the lions' den: classic.
Can we just appreciate how TOTALLY AMAZING this story is??
It's one of the stories that kids hear all the time in Sunday School and if you are like me it grew a little old. I had to grow back into it and realize how insane the story really is.
The Bible isn't written like a novel, the story is just told play for play. We have to understand for ourselves how real it is and therefore how insane it is: Daniel was thrown into the hungry lions' den and he survived.
Lions. He spent the night with lions.
How did that go? He's thrown in and probably thinking "well, this must be it." And then he sees an angel? Or he assumes there's a angel because the lions don't attack him? They don't open their mouths, specifically. Did he see the lions? Were they sleeping? Did they just stare at him? What if they started acting like house cats and wanting Daniel to pet them? These are all things that we don't learn in the Bible. All we know is he spent the night with hungry lions who never opened their mouths: dang.
For Daniel I can't imagine the relief and joy that comes with knowing that God spared his life in a majorly miraculous way and to be able to go on living! To leave the lions' den! Reading the story I imagined that relief and then suddenly flipped to: "the men who falsely accused Daniel were brought in and thrown into the lions' den, along with their wives and children. And before they reached the floor of the den, the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones."
Okay, what the heck, why? I'm Daniel and I'm amazed to see what God has done for me and then I hear that the king of Babylon has killed the men who accused me. And their wives. And their children. I cannot imagine how to sit with that.
How would Daniel feel about that? Does it feel like justice to him? Because we do have a just God. Or does it feel like the Babylonian king taking matters of justice into his own hands?
I don't know if I'm the one to say which it is. But if I had to answer, I'd say it's probably a little of both.
It's hard to read these parts of the Bible and wonder about how God allows cruel and harsh things like this to happen. It's tough to stomach. But what Peter said in 2 Peter 3:8-9 was truly encouraging in light of these difficult situations in Daniel. "With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. Instead, He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance."
We can get so caught up in the judgment of God and shake our fists and wonder how He could be so strict. We can look at these Old Testament stories and examples of people being struck down dead for one mistake they made. We can focus on all this and forget the hundreds, thousands, endless chances for grace, forgiveness, and salvation offered.
I can't speak to the specific situations of these men and their families in Daniel, because again we aren't given that many details.
What we do know is that they did not worship God for who He is; they were not repentant.
But what we know more than that is that God is merciful and gracious. He is patient and He wants us. He knows our hearts, He knows who we are, and He waits for us.
He loves us in majorly miraculous ways.