By Karen Thompson
One of Two
God’s Laws of Judgment
The accounts of what happened to the Jewish people in the first six chapters of the book of Daniel contain what I call God’s “Laws of Judgment.” These accounts reveal to us how God judges behavior: He rewards the good and punishes the bad. These stories are about what happened to the Jewish people when they found themselves exiled from their nation and forced to live in a foreign land under the rule of a megalomaniac king who built a giant golden image and forced all to worship it under the threat of death. When the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar invaded Jerusalem and forced thousands of its citizens to live in Babylon, it began a period of time called the “Times of the Gentiles.” It’s a period of time when the Jewish people lost their autonomy and fell under Gentile rule. Here’s the interesting part. The Times of the Gentiles will end like it began. In the end times, Jerusalem will be invaded and overpowered by a Gentile megalomaniac king who will also build an image and force all to worship it under the threat of death. Having that understanding, the experiences of the Jewish people in Daniel are to be seen as examples for the Jewish people who are alive in the end times when they find themselves under the rule of Antichrist. These examples should be used as both encouragement and guidance. The laws of judgment in all these stories are clear, but the most interesting law of judgment is found in the story of Daniel in the lions’ den. That’s what our next series is about.
Daniel Chapter Six: The Persecution of Daniel
Daniel was a prophet, but as you study Daniel’s life, you will discover that he didn’t suffer the same kind of persecution like other prophets experienced. The persecution he suffered was unique in that it came as a result of his peers in government being jealous of him when he was promoted over them. So they set a trap to get rid of him. It was because of this jealousy that Daniel ended up in a den full of lions.
At first glance, the most obvious law of judgment we see is that God rewarded Daniel’s faithfulness by shutting the mouths of the lions. But when you look at it from another perspective, you see another law of judgment in action—a law that virtually permeates the entire Bible, from beginning to end. With that in mind, let’s review the story of Daniel in the lions’ den.
How Daniel Ended Up in the Lions’ Den
Darius, the Medo/Persian king and now ruler over Babylon, had plans to appoint 120 satraps (governors) to rule over his entire kingdom. Then he was going to appoint three commissioners (Daniel being one of them) to be in charge of the 120 governors. Because Daniel had an excellent spirit, he stood out from all the other rulers and so the king decided to scrap his plan to appoint three commissioners over the 120 satraps. Instead, he decided to put Daniel in charge over his entire kingdom, serving directly under the king!
That didn’t sit well with the other satraps and commissioners. They began to look for skeletons in Daniel’s closet in order to disgrace and discredit him before the king. But Daniel was a decent and godly man, and they couldn’t find anything with which they could accuse him. So they did the next best thing. They framed him!
They said, “We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God” (Dan. 6:5). So they came up with a devious scheme that would trap Daniel and get rid of him altogether. They used his most positive trait, his uncompromising faithfulness to God, against him!
They came to the king and said, “King Darius, live forever. All the presidents of the kingdom, the governors, and the princes, the counsellors, and the captains, have consulted together to establish a royal statute, and to make a firm decree, that whosoever shall ask a petition of any God or man for thirty days, save of thee, O king, he shall be cast into the den of lions. Now, O king, establish the decree, and sign the writing, that it be not changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not” (Dan. 6:6–8).
Using flattery, they tricked the king into creating a law that said no one could pray to any god except the king for 30 days. If people prayed to a god other than the king during those 30 days, they’d be thrown into the lions’ den. They knew Daniel prayed every day—morning, noon, and night. When Daniel heard that the king had signed the new law, he did not change his prayer discipline. The Bible says Daniel, “kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime” (Dan. 6:10).
Daniel’s enemies wasted no time and went to the king to accuse him of wrongdoing. They said to the king, “Hast thou not signed a decree, that every man that shall ask a petition of any God or man within thirty days, save of thee, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions? The king answered and said, The thing is true, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not” (Dan. 6:12).
Then they told the king “that Daniel, which is of the children of the captivity of Judah, regardeth not thee, O king, nor the decree that thou hast signed, but maketh his petition three times a day” (Dan. 6:13). When the king heard this, he was “deeply distressed” because he was very fond of Daniel. He immediately began to look for a way he could spare Daniel’s life. The king couldn’t simply reverse his law because kings are supposed to be infallible. Reversing the law would be to admit that he made a mistake. Daniel’s enemies reminded the king “that the law of the Medes and Persians is that no decree nor statute which the king establisheth may be changed” (Dan. 6:15). They insisted the king enforce the law.
The king had no other choice but to give the order to have Daniel cast into the lions’ den. Before Daniel was lowered into the den, the king said to him, “Thy God whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee” (Dan. 6:16).
The king was so distressed over Daniel that he couldn’t sleep the whole night. As soon as the sun came up, He went immediately to the lions’ den. He cried out, “Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions?” (Dan. 6:20). And to the king’s delight, Daniel answered and said, “My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt” (Dan. 6:22).
The king had Daniel lifted up out of the lions’ den. Miraculously, Daniel sustained no injuries whatsoever. As soon as Daniel was out, the king wasted no time and immediately gave the order to bring the men that had “maliciously accused” Daniel and had them cast into the den. The same lions that didn’t harm Daniel tore his accusers apart before they hit bottom.
Measure for Measure
Can you see the principle of judgment to be learned in Daniel chapter six? God caused Daniel’s enemies to suffer the very fate they had intended for him. They designed a fate for Daniel to be tossed into a den of lions to be torn apart, but they, instead, were thrown into the lions’ den and were torn apart. If you’re observant, there are many examples of this law of judgment throughout the Bible. Whatever evil you have planned for someone, that evil will be done to you.
I was so excited when I saw this Bible principle. I truly thought I had discovered a great truth, but then all the air was let out of my tires when the book I just happened to be reading at that time informed me that this principle of truth that I had discovered was actually common knowledge. I was reading “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Jewish History and Culture” by Rabbi Benjamin Blech. I was reading the section entitled, “Let My People Go: The Birth of a Religion.” He was talking about how God called Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt and how God persuaded the Pharaoh to let the Israelites go by sending the 10 plagues on Egypt. Rabbi Blech said:
With the plagues upon him and his people, Pharaoh had to say yes to Moses, and the Jews were set free. Then when the Egyptians chased after them after a change of heart, they were drowned in the Red Sea. A fitting end for those who had formerly drowned Jewish babies. Gilbert and Sullivan’s line that “the punishment fits the crime” is really a rephrasing of the biblical principle that wicked people get punished “measure for measure,” in the very way in which they committed their crime.
The principle that I thought I had discovered is called “measure for measure.” Whatever you do to others, will happen to you. When I began to search this principle of measure for measure, I came across an article a Jewish person had written about this very principle. She recalled a quintessential example of this principle on the evening news. She said a couple had taken up a hobby of making roadkill films. They would release animals on a busy highway and film them as they were run over by oncoming traffic. That’s how this couple died. While making their sick little films, they too were hit and killed by oncoming traffic. It was on film on the six o’clock news. Measure for measure.
Measure for measure: how you treat others, good or bad, the same will happen to you. This principle is not exclusive to the Old Testament. It’s in the New Testament as well. Christians know it as “you reap what you sow.” You can see in the following passages, both phraseologies—“measure for measure” and “you reap what you sow”—are found in New Testament scripture.
“For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again” (Matt. 7:2).
“Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again” (Luke 6:38).
“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting” (Gal. 6:7–8).
The truth of this principle is embedded into the culture of our present-day psyche. It is evidenced by the many colloquialisms in our everyday language. How many times have you heard one or more of these sayings? “What goes around comes around.” “You reap what you sow.” “Judge not lest ye also be judged.” “That’s bad karma.” “That will come back to bite you.” “The punishment fits the crime.”
The principle of measure for measure is not a hidden principle. From the beginning, God has declared in the plainest language that He will deal with you as you have dealt with others. In fact, the Bible nearly shouts it simply by the magnitude of repetition. Unfortunately, I’ve run out of space, so in the next post, we’ll go over several Bible examples of measure for measure.
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