| Of course
this is a questionable connection. A few tame dogs are nothing in
comparison to wild, hungry lions.
And yet a certain question remained to occupy me,
"Why was Daniel not bitten by the lions?"
To begin with, here is the story of Daniel:
So the king gave the order, and they brought
Daniel and threw him into the lions' den. The king said to Daniel,
"May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!"
A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den, and the
king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the rings of the
nobles, so that Daniel's situation might not be changed. Then the
king returned to his palace and spent the night without eating and
without any entertainment being brought to him. And he could not
Back to my question:
At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions'
den. When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished
voice, "Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom
you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?"
Daniel answered, "O king, live for ever! My God sent his angel,
and he shut the mouths 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." The king was overjoyed and gave orders
to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the
den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.
At the king's command, the men who had falsely accused Daniel were
brought in and thrown into the lions' den, along with their wives
and children. And before they reached the floor of the den, the
lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones. Then King Darius
wrote to all the peoples, nations and men of every language throughout
the land: "May you prosper greatly! I issue a decree that in
every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God
of Daniel. For he is the living God and he endures for ever; his
kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end. He rescues
and he saves; he performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on
the earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the Lions.
Daniel 6, 17 -27
"Why was Daniel not bitten by the lions?"
Some will say, the text says that "God sent his angel, and he
shut the mouths of the lions." Others will say it is because
"Daniel trusted in his God."
But is it that simple?
I would like to take my question back to the story of creation:
Now the Lord God had formed out
of the ground all the beasts of the fields and all the birds of
the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them;
and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name.
So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air
and all the beasts of the field.
God brings his creatures to the man. None of the animals run away
from him. They neither eat each other nor do they bite the man.
Genesis 2, 19-20a
And the man is allowed to name each creature: "You are to be
called lion, and you elephant, and you horse etc.."
In the Bible, to give someone or something a name is something not
to be taken for granted. There is much more connected to giving a
name (or a new name: Abraham, Israel, Paul...). In a sense it means
a claim to possession or the acceptance of responsibilty, love, trust,
caring and many other things which could be named here.
Perhaps this will be easier to understand when we remember what it
is like when God calls us by our own name by saying, "I have
called you by your own name, you are mine".
God assigned the task of naming HIS creation to the man.
Here is another text from the Old Testament:
The Lord then said to Noah, "Go
into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you
righteous in this generation. Take with you seven of every kind
of clean animal, a male and its mate, and two of every kind of unclean
animal, a male and its mate, and also seven of every kind of bird,
male and female, to keep their various kinds alive throughout the
earth. Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth for forty
days and forty nights, and I will wipe from the face of the earth
every living creature I have made." And Noah did all that the
Lord commanded him. Noah was six hundred years old when the floodwaters
came on the earth. And Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons'
wives entered the ark to escape the waters of the flood. Pairs of
clean and unclean animals, of birds and of all creatures that move
along the ground, male and female, came to Noah and entered the
ark, as God had commanded Noah.
I recall the pictures I saw at Sunday School: The wooden Ark and the
animals going into it: elephants, giraffes, cattle, dogs, cats and
all other creatures.
And again the same question arises: Why didn't any of the animals
bite Noah? Why did they go into the ark with him and not run away
from him? Why didn't they eat each other up whilst they lived together
in the ark? And why were they satisfied to eat what Noah had stored
up for them in the ark?
"My question was:
"Why was Daniel not bitten by the lions?"
I can imagine that you know the answer by now. These three biblical
stories witness that:
God himself was nearby in each case!
The curse of sin and debt was not present at the time when Adam was
allowed to name each creature. And in the cases of Noah and Daniel
neither sin nor debt were apparant or evident.
In a Christmas Carol written by Isaac Watts to a tune from George
Frederik Handel there are the words:
All sins and debts were paid by
and peace shall rule the land
For God's salvation frees us all
And His rich blessing fills the world
Removes the curse of sin.
In this verse I find myself in the centre of the Bible text where
God is again very close to people - to us - to me: At the birth of
In those days Caesar Augustus
issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman
world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius
was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register.
Again God is close to people.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea,
to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house
and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was
pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they
were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave
birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed
him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields near by, keeping
watch over their flocks at night. An Angel of the Lord appeared
to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were
terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I
bring you good news of great joy that will be for all The people.
Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is
Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby
wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the
angel, praising God and saying,
»Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on
whom his favour rests.«
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds
said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing
that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who
was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the
word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all
who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But
Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the
things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been
It is - just as the artist has shown in the picture Daniel - once
more the clarity and the light of God that is shining around the shepherds.
And again the angel of the Lord is present. But there is also the
dirty stable with horse dung and cow manure, the drooled over manger
in which the Saviour of the world is lying.
Yet despite all that the Evangelist John can still say:
The Word became flesh and made
his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory of the One and Only,
who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
There angels sing for joy and speak to people about this wonderful
thing that has happened.
There shepherds and wise men kneel before the manger in the stall.
And yet funnily enough the Evangelist, Luke, does not mention creation.
Is creation to be an exception?
Is this why people began to think up stories and fables?
Why there are countless Christmas tales in which animals can talk
to people or themselves? Animals who are good and kind.
Are these wishful dreams?
The Bible itself does not require fairytales and fables ...
Another German writer of hymns points to the bible as he says:
A shoot growing
I find this text in the book of the prophet Isiah:
from a tender root,
just as our ancestor sang;
a descendent from Jesse.
And it has blossomed
in the midst of a cold winter
half of the night long.
A shoot will come up from the
stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit
of the Lord will rest on him - the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and
of the fear of the Lord - and he will delight in the fear of the
Lord. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide
by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness he will judge
the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the
earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with
the breathe of his lips he will slay the wicked. Righteousness will
be his belt and faithfulness the sash round his waist. The wolf
will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat,
the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child
will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will
lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The
infant will play near the hole of the cobra, and the young child
put his hand into the viper's nest. They will neither harm nor destroy
on my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledghe
of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
This piece of the scriptures describes a time in which God, people
and the whole of creation shall once more be very close to each other:
The time of Jesus Christ's second coming.
Isiah 11, 1-9
Paul writes in his Letter to the Romans about his longing for God.
He includes all creatures and creation in this longing. Creation must
suffer under the curse caused by the sin of mankind. Yet it longs
to be set free.
I consider that our present sufferings
are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in
us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God
to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not
by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it,
in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage
to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of
People and creatures long for this freedom, long for the curse of
sin to be taken away. Long for things to be as they were. And long
for God himself to be present.
We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains
of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we
ourselves, who have the first fruits of the spirit, groan inwardly
as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemtion of our
bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is
no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope
for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
Romans 8, 18-25
And I recall what it will be like to be set free again. To be close
to God once more. Not to have to hide from him anymore. To meet those
chosen ones - the "cloud of witnesses" - again. Those whose
names are written down in the book of life.
And perhaps then - whilst I am praising and thanking God - I will
be stroking the beard of a lion, or my daughter will be playing with
a pack of wolves.