Malice (by Carley Evans)

King Darius is tricked by his own administrators into signing an edict forbidding anyone to petition any other king or any god for 30 days. The person who disobeys this edict is to be thrown into the lions’ den.

The king’s administrators are determined to do away with Daniel, but they are unable “to find any charge or corruption, for he is trustworthy.” (Daniel 6:4, HCSB) They decide to “find something against him concerning the law of his God.” (Daniel 6:5) This is the reason they persuade King Darius to establish the edict essentially forbidding prayer.

King Darius doesn’t catch the impending trap. He signs the ordinance.

As soon as Daniel becomes aware of the edict, he disobeys it. He faces Jerusalem and prays three times that very day, “just as he has done before.” (Daniel 6:10)

As a group, the administrators approach Darius and report Daniel’s behavior. They insist that the law be honored. Although Darius is displeased and “sets his mind on rescuing Daniel and makes every effort until sundown to deliver him,” eventually he must place Daniel in the lions’ den overnight. He even seals the den with a stone and multiple royal and noble signets. (Daniel 6:14) He seems, at this point, to believe he is not above man’s law; also he does not fully understand God is.

Through the night, King Darius fasts and prays for Daniel’s deliverance. In the morning, he asks through the stone, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God whom you serve continually been able to rescue you from the lions?” (Daniel 6:20)

And Daniel says, “Absolutely!” Overnight, God sends His angel to shut the mouths of the lions so they do not harm Daniel.

King Darius then has the malicious administrators, their wives, their children all thrown into the den where the lions “overpower them and crush all their bones.” (Daniel 6:24) He no longer cares about the edict he signed for God is above the law.

Father God, protect us from the malice of others for there are persons who plot wickedness against those who are loved by You. Help us not to be afraid of these persons, knowing that You work all things together for good to those called according to Your purposes. Thank You that malicious people are infrequently present in our lives; that most people only take advantage of situations to the detriment of others; most people do not plot against others. Help us to always put You in the first place in our hearts, minds, lives. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

“Go, Get Out Of Here” (by Carley Evans)

Jesus has appointments — specific times and certain places He must be. Pharisees locate Him as He travels between towns on His way to Jerusalem. They warn Jesus, “Go, get out of here! Herod wants to kill You!” (Luke 13:31, HCSB)

But Jesus responds, “Go tell that fox, ‘Look! I’m driving out demons and performing healings today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will complete My work.’ Yet I must travel today, tomorrow, and the next day, because it is not possible for a prophet to perish outside of Jerusalem!” (Luke 13:32-33)

Jesus is determined to make His appointment. He is not going to be early and certainly will not be late. In the meantime, He goes about His usual business of “driving out demons and performing healings” while He travels to His final destination — Jerusalem and the cross at Golgotha.

Dear Heavenly Father, we are grateful to Jesus, Your Son, for His willingness and yes — determination — to make His appointment. We thank You that You gave Him up for us, and that He loved You so much that He willingly died a cursed death  for our salvation. To You be the glory. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Blessed If Not Offended

Herod is excited. Pilate is sending Jesus to him because Jesus is a Galilean and therefore under Herod’s jurisdiction. To make matters even easier, it happens that Herod is in Jerusalem “in those days.” (Luke 23:7, HCSB) Herod is anticipating a thrilling encounter, having heard a lot about Jesus. Above everything else, Herod wants to see a miracle!

When Jesus is brought before him, Herod asks Him many questions; but Jesus does not answer any of them. At the same time, somewhat on the sidelines, the chief priests and scribes are taunting Jesus. You can almost hear them as they spit out vehement accusations.

Eventually, Herod realizes Jesus is not going to perform a miracle. Likely frustrated and angry, Herod — in conjunction with his soldiers — treats Jesus with contempt. Herod mocks Jesus, and has Him dressed in a colorful robe. Disappointed in the proceedings, Herod sends Jesus back to Pilate.

Jesus says, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you do not believe.” (John 4:48) And the Son of God prays, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because You hide these things from the wise and learned and reveal them to infants. Yes, because this is Your good pleasure.” (Matthew 11:25-26) Jesus speaks to the crowds about John the Baptist, “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swaying in the wind? What did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothes? Look, those who wear soft clothes are in kings’ palaces.” (Matthew 11:7-8) “If anyone is not offended by Me, he is blessed.” (Matthew 11:6)

Father God, keep us from needing to see signs and miracles in order to believe. Help us to trust the ordinary events of our days as within Your sovereign will. Help us to know the real person of Jesus Christ, crucified, resurrected, and glorified. In Jesus’ Name, amen.