Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Den Of Lions (part 3)

Before moving forward, it’s appropriate to put some flesh and blood on this story.  For all practical purposes, the story of Daniel asks the readers to understand that Daniel has effectively become the second most powerful man in the empire.  He knew his position.  Similarly, it can be suggested that Jesus, in all likelihood knew (based on the events of his life, from what He would have been told were the angelic prophecies of His birth, to His experience at the age of twelve in Jerusalem, to His baptism, to the miracles that attended His ministry), or at least had a strong and abiding hope, that He was the Creator God’s Messiah for Israel. 

Daniel, who is presented as a wise counselor and keen politician, would have been well aware that Darius desired to make him the ruler of the kingdom.  Likewise, if Jesus strongly believed Himself to be the Messiah (to the point that He presents Himself as a messiah-figure, while, according to the Gospel accounts of His life, also used messianic titles, imagery, and language in reference to Himself), then He also strongly believed that He was the one that was to be appointed as King of the coming kingdom of God.  Indeed, Jesus seems to be in a state of almost constant awareness of what awaits Him at the end of His journey, as He is reported to have made regular references to the betrayal and suffering and death and resurrection to which He understood Himself to be headed. 

The picture of Jesus that is presented in the Gospels is one in which He has a complete mastery over all that eventually happens to Him at the hands of His adversaries, especially as He lays down His life willingly.  So it was with Daniel.  In the narrative that bears his name, Daniel exudes an aura of measured control.  In addition, he was by no means a political novice, as before King Darius comes on the scene, he is said to have dealt quite well with the great King Nebuchadnezzar, gaining power and prestige in Babylon in the process. 

Both Daniel and Jesus were astute observers who were well engaged with the machinations of the political machines of their days.  Owing to this, there is very little chance that Daniel was unaware of what was happening, just as Jesus is shown to have known what was going on behind the scenes in the corridors of power, owing to His miracles and His proclamation of the presence of the kingdom of God, with its inclusion of all and sundry peoples. 

Daniel, with the position that he had attained, could quite easily have stepped in and protested the decree that had been proposed.  Had he so desired, he could probably have kept it from being made.  The same could presumably be said of Jesus, as when He is arrested in the garden, He speaks of being able to call upon more than twelve legions of angels to protect Him if that was His desire.  It is easy to imagine that, with the influence and power that he is said to have, Daniel could very well have commanded the loyalty and affection of some of the leaders of the king’s army, attempted a coup, started a revolution, and done any number of things in an attempt to save himself from the repercussions of a decree that was quite obviously directed at him. 

Neither Daniel nor Jesus chose such a route.  Instead, Daniel, just as he had determined to do from the time he reached Babylon, was going to put the Creator God of Israel on display.  More importantly, he was going to put the covenant faithfulness of Israel’s God to rescue His people, on display for all to see.  This too was presumably Jesus’ goal, as He trusted, based on the Scriptural record that was the source of His knowledge of the Creator God, that the covenant God of Israel was going to fulfill His covenant for the world (made with Abraham), through Him and through His death and Resurrection. 

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