as told by Parsnip
I wonder if you have ever seen a lion - maybe in a zoo, or safari park? What did you think of them?
You might think that I'm biased, but I think that we're rather majestic creatures. After all, there must be a reason that a lion is called the king of the jungle.
I suppose we can look a bit scary too. We do have sharp teeth, so we can eat, and it's true that we have quite a loud roar sometimes. That's how we talk to other lions; you should hear the things we talk about sometimes, though.
Anyway, I want to tell you the story of someone called Daniel.
Daniel was a Jew and believed in God. But one day, some soldiers from another country came, invaded their land and took Daniel, and many others, off to another country, called Babylon.
Most people in Babylon didn't believe in the God that Daniel and his friends believed in. Daniel got a job working for the king of this country and he was very good at it. In fact some of the king's other workers became jealous of Daniel and wanted to get rid of him. The way they decided to do this was through Daniel's faith in God.
They told the king, a man called Darius, that they wanted the king to make a law which said that for the next 30 days, everyone had to worship the same god that the King worshipped. They said this because they knew that Daniel wouldn't agree. Daniel believed that there was only one God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; the God who had appeared to Moses and rescued the whole country of Israel when they had been slaves in Egypt. The king's men didn't really care which god people worshipped, they just wanted to get rid of Daniel. And they persuaded the king to agree to this.
The king's men were right; when Daniel heard about this law he continued to pray 3 times a day to God, just as he always had done. He used to pray in his house, in a room upstairs which had windows which faced towards Jerusalem. Jerusalem was in Daniel's own country and was where God's holy temple stood. Daniel, his friends and the other Israelites hoped they might be able to go back to their country one day and worship God in the temple again.
I don't know if the king's men were spying on Daniel, or if they saw him praying because he was by a window. But whichever it was, they went straight off to the king and told tales,
"didn't you make a law which said that everyone should worship the same god as you?" they asked. "Well Daniel's breaking that law."
The king was very upset when he heard this - not because Daniel believed in a different God from him, but because he liked Daniel and didn't want to punish him. Maybe he realised that his own men had tricked him. He was so upset that he stayed up all night , looking for a way to save Daniel.
In the morning, the king's men went back to him and said, "don't forget about the law you made. This law can't be changed by anyone, not even the king, and Daniel's broken it." Then the king gave the order and these men took Daniel and threw him into a den which was full of hungry lions. They put a stone over the top of this den, so that no-one could get out, and they sealed the stone with the king's own seal. If they later found that that seal had been broken, it would have meant that someone had tried to move the stone to rescue Daniel - and that person would have been in trouble themselves.
I don't think that anyone expected to see Daniel again. The king was so upset that he wouldn't eat, and couldn't sleep, for the rest of that day. In the morning, he practically ran to the lion's den and called out,
"Daniel, are you there? Was your God able to save you?"
"Yes", Daniel replied, "God sent an angel to shut the mouths of these lions so they could not harm me".
The king was so pleased!
He told the men to pull Daniel out of the den and found that it was true; Daniel didn't have a mark on him. Then the king ordered these men who had tricked him and told tales about Daniel, to be thrown into the den themselves. by this time, the lions were all very hungry, and there was not such a happy ending for them.
So what really happened in that den?
I've heard people say that the lions had actually all been fed beforehand, weren't very hungry and just lay down and went to sleep. I've also heard people say that Daniel hypnotised them, or even preached to them, so that they just didn't want to eat him.
Well, even though I'm a lion, I don't know for certain. What I do know though, is that the God that Daniel believed in is the same God who created us. He looks after us, gives us food and takes care of the females and baby lions. So when an angel, who is a special messenger of God, told those lions not to hurt this man who also loved God; they didn't. And that proved to the king that Daniel's God was the real God, and that he could keep safe people who believed in him.
I don't expect anyone has ever tried to throw you into a den of lions, but maybe you get teased sometimes for believing in God or going to church?
I wonder if you have ever asked God to help you to do the right thing, and asked him to keep you safe?