[forthright] Darius' Babylon/My Unbelief

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From: Forthright Magazine <forthrightmag@...>
Date: Fri, 09 Mar 2007 14:48:05 -0600
Forthright Magazine
http://www.forthright.net
Straight to the Cross

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Darius' Babylon by Paul Goddard
My Unbelief by Tim Hall
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COLUMN: Up for the Task

Darius' Babylon
by Paul Goddard

"There are no compacts between lions and men." --Homer
 
Found in the small town of Henderson, Tennessee,
on the campus of Freed-Hardeman University, is a
ferocious-looking African lion. Just walk through
the doors of the Sports Center and peer behind the
staircase. There behind the glass, you will see
it! Killed by Harry Seratt in 1993, this stuffed
beast now serves as a mascot for the university./1

Lions have always been a symbol of bravery and
prowess. Highly prized in Babylon, the Asiatic
lion (Panthera leo persica) was found throughout
the Fertile Crescent until 1942./2 Dating back to
Ashurnasirpal II of Assyria (883-863 B.C.), the
lion motif can be found on numerous ancient
palaces, temples, and tombs.

After the defeat of Belshazzar, in 539 B.C.,
Darius the Mede made Babylon his home (Daniel
5:30,31)./3 Inheriting the spoils of war, which
included captive lions, Darius planned to expand
and consolidate his kingdom. Looking for
exceptional leadership, he decided to appoint a
chief administrator to oversee the entire nation.
Distinguished in service and blameless in conduct,
Daniel was selected to fill this appointment./4

Disliked by those who would be made accountable,
Daniel's enemies tried to find a flaw in his
character (Daniel 6:1-5)./5 Knowing that he was a
Hebrew, they created a scandal by putting him in a
position where he had to choose between his God
and his king. Appealing to the king's desire for a
unified kingdom, the conspirators suggested that
all subjects pray to him for a period of thirty
days. Anyone violating the decree by worshiping
another would be thrown into a pit of lions. King
Darius agreed with this recommendation and signed
it into law (Daniel 6:6-9)./6

Eagerly waiting for the edict to be violated,
Daniel's elated enemies watched as he continued
his daily habit of prayer. Once informed of the
treason, the displeased king realized that he had
been tricked, for he was about to kill his most
faithful servant. Unable to amend the decree, he
followed its provisions and ordered the execution.
As Daniel was being thrown into the underground
cistern, the king called out, "May your God, whom
you serve continually, rescue you!" (Daniel 6:10-
18).

Early the next morning the anxious king returned
to the lions' den to see if Daniel was alive. To
his amazement, he heard his servant call out, "O
king, live forever! My God sent his angel, and
shut the mouth of the lions. They have not hurt
me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor
have I ever done any wrong before you O king." As
Daniel was lifted to safety, the hunger-starved
lions looked up from their enclosure and justice
was served (Daniel 6:19-28).

Daniel could have taken the path of least
resistance, but he did not. He remained faithful
to God. Have you ever faced the jaws and paws of a
hungry lion (1 Peter 5:8-10)? Pray to God for
rescue. Christian, are you up for the task?
 
"O for a faith that will not shrink,
Tho pressed by every foe,
That will not tremble on the brink,
Of any earthly woe." -- W.H. Bathurst
 
__________

1/ Harry Seratt shot this lion near the town of
Panamatanga, in Botswana, Africa. The night
before, it was part of a pride of lions that had
killed a baby elephant. The lion weighed between
400-450 pounds.

2/ These wild carnivores are no longer indigenous
to the Tigris-Euphrates region. The last one was
killed in Dezful, Iran. While in captivity, they
can live up to twenty years and eat up to 15
pounds of meat per day. The Arab name Shir is the
Persian word for lion.

3/ John C. Whitcomb, Darius the Mede (Grand
Rapids: Eerdmans, 1959), 24. The name Darius
("holder of the scepter") may be a title of honor.
Secular history has no record of a king called
Darius the Mede. Since King Darius was incapable
of changing written law, perhaps he was a
subordinate to King Cyrus of Persia (Daniel 6:28).


4/ The name Daniel is a Hebrew word, which means
"God is my Judge."

5/ The title of Satrap is derived from a Persian
word meaning "protector of the realm" (Esther
3:12-14; Daniel 3:2; Ezra 8:36). These vassals
were held in check by governors who reported to
the king.

6/ "In view of the intimate connection between
religious and political loyalty which governed the
attitude of the peoples of that ancient culture,
it might well have been considered a statesmanlike
maneuver to compel all the diverse inhabitants
with their heterogeneous tribal and religious
loyalties to acknowledge in a very practical way
the supremacy of the new Persian empire which had
taken over supreme control of their domains."
Gleason L. Archer, A Survey of Old Testament
Introduction (Chicago: Moody Press,1964), 386.

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COLUMN: Heavenly Connections

My Unbelief
by Tim Hall

A crowd gathered around Jesus' disciples. A demon-
possessed boy had been brought to them, but they
were unable to cast out the devil. When Jesus
appeared, the father rushed to him, desperate for
someone to help his son. "But if you can do
anything, have compassion on us and help us" the
father implored (Mark 9:22, NKJV).

The New King James Version doesn't do justice to
the words Jesus then spoke: "If you can believe,
all things are possible to him who believes" (Mark
9:23). Other translations almost certainly capture
the real response of our Lord: "If you can! All
things are possible for one who believes" (ESV).
In that response, Jesus chides the man for
doubting his power. The problem is not the Lord's
ability; it's lack of faith that hinders what God
might do.

The father's response confirms this view:
"Immediately the father of the child cried out,
and said with tears, 'Lord, I believe; help my
unbelief!'" (Mark 9:24) By acknowledging a
deficiency in his faith, the man opened the door
to divine power.

Do we recognize that our faith may not be where it
should be? True, we are regular in attending
worship and in Bible reading. But how strong is
our faith in God's power in our lives? Could it be
that our doubts might hinder what God could do
through us?

Paul pointed to Abraham as a model for our faith:
"He did not waver at the promise of God through
unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving
glory to God" (Romans 4:20). Was it easy for this
aged man to believe God's promise that he would
have a son? But Abraham put more emphasis on the
power of God than he did on the frailties of his
own body, and his faith thus triumphed.

But that was Abraham. We today don't have the same
ability to be instruments in the hand of God -- do
we? Consider these words before you dismiss the
possibility: "Now to him who is able to do
exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or
think, according to the power that works in us"
(Ephesians 3:20). Do those words still apply to
Christians? Undoubtedly they do, and they affirm
that God's power is still available to do great
things, assuming we don't limit that power by our
unbelief.

Focusing on a material world won't strengthen
anyone's faith. Under those conditions, unbelief
will prevail, and God's power will be shut out.
Those who redirect their attention to the
spiritual realm make themselves available for
God's work. No, it won't be miraculous works, as
in the case of the demon-possessed boy. But God's
influence in a Christian's life will nonetheless
attract the attention of many and will lead some
to glorify God (see Matthew 5:16).

Lord, help my unbelief!

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