This devotion is part of the Jesse Tree Advent devotion series.
Scripture reading: Daniel 6
Don’t mistake Daniel 6 for a children’s story. This is the gruesome stuff of nightmares—a sinister plot to trap Daniel in his singular devotion to the God of Israel, a pit full of hungry wild beasts, and in the end, the mauling and death of whole families, including children, by those lions.
The story reminds us of the risks of following God, of the very real consequences of dogged faithfulness in the face of a cruel, power-hungry world. It reminds us that to be a Christian is a political statement and a political act. The fragrance of Christ is threatening to people who reek of selfish ambition and corruption. Daniel’s insistence on “smelling” like the God of Israel nearly got him killed by people who couldn’t stomach the aroma.
But he didn’t get killed. And that part of the story reminds us of God’s faithfulness to us when we are faithful to him. God has promised that he will be with his people, so he doesn’t shut the mouths of the lions from a distance. He sends his angel to keep Daniel company. In the Bible, angels are more than messengers, delivering God’s words like celestial mail carriers; they are understood to represent God. It’s as if God himself is with Daniel in that den. The Lion of Judah tells those lions of Babylon who’s boss.
What encouragement for us when we feel like we’re surrounded by bloodthirsty lions—whether it’s a competitive work environment, a mental soundtrack that tells you you’re just not measuring up, or an illness that threatens to sap all your strength. God, who delivers and rescues, is with you always.
Living God, your kingdom is not like the kingdoms of this world. You invert the usual power systems and provide a different set of rules to live by. Living in your kingdom can put me at odds with the world around me, but I trust that even when I feel under attack, you are with me. Amen.