Letter to Daniel – Power Without Responsibility

Dear Daniel,

I have a message for you; more like a question if you will. But before I deliver the Lord’s message, allow me to drool all over you.

Daniel in the lion's den.

If you lived today we would call you a mega star; and that’s not to say you missed out on celebrity in those days long ago. We read that kings fell over one another to bow before you. Considering that you were a slave, a Hebrew slave in a world almost timelessly anti-Hebrew, from the days of the Pharaohs through to Herman, it is surreal to imagine gods of empires bowing before you. Lions became so star-struck that they denied their most basic instinct to tear you apart. They opted rather to catapult you into mythic realms. There was nothing like it before you. There’s been nothing like it after you.

Question is: How did the struggle to rebuild Jerusalem and restore Jewry from captivity benefit from your political influence?

You are everyone’s pin-up, a model transcending all Semitic religious borders.  Christianity adores you, Islam acknowledges you, something they wouldn’t freely accord Jesus Christ. Judaism, well that’s right up your alley. Even the idol worshippers of your time confessed you had the spirit of the gods in you (can’t tell which gods those were). For a man who was introduced to the pages of scripture in chains, you conquered the ancient world with the power of dreams, transcendent wisdom, transparent honesty, a spirit of excellence and faith in Jehovah.

It was in the middle of this perennial oohs and aahs at a Redeemed Camp bible class section that the Lord whispered a question in my ears. He was in effect asking me to spoil a rather good party. Unheard of. Isn’t it written that the heavens loved you? So I thought why this? Why now? Why me? I decided rather to challenge the spirit that spoke to me than risk upsetting your mythic image. I ran through scripture in search of something to deflect this cup. Scripture failed me. The cup admitted no wave. So ask I must.

Question is: How did the struggle to rebuild Jerusalem and restore Jewry from captivity benefit from your political influence?

You were Vice President and foremost counsellor to most of the kings that ruled over Israel in captivity. You knew how to read the times and knew when the years of captivity would end according to the prophets. You prayed, to be sure, but as a famous Bishop one admonished his congregation, you can’t fast your way out of making decisions and living up to challenges.

There was Nehemiah, he prayed, he toiled, he fought, he did all but give up on the dream of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. As far as accounts go, he was not as influential as you. There was Ezra, Zerubbabel, Joshua the son of Jozedech, Prophets Haggai and Zechariah and others too numerous to name, but no less important in the struggle. God Almighty realised the challenges they faced and promised to bring down mountains for them 1Zechariah 4:6-7 and when they allowed themselves to cave under pressure, He made things unsavoury for them. 2Haggai 1:2-11

In the face of detractions and distractions, let and hindrances, threats of violence and executive reviews, Jewish leadership made representation to kings, most of whom you served. But records of your involvement are scarce, even in palaces where your wisdom and gifts were peerless and much sort after.

It may well be that there are hidden or lost pages in our history and the canonized bible may not be the whole deal (You can bet I’ll get kicked about for implying any thing less than sanctimonious about the bible). I thought well, the Lord ought to know all that before leading me this way. However going by what we have, you did not appear to have walked in the footsteps of past heroes.

Your history is full of people who were willing to give whatever it took to sanctify a faith borne in struggle.

Your faith was a movement that grew out of a struggle for liberation. The main protagonist of that movement, Moses, was a privileged prince of a foreign kingdom, much like you. Out of good conscience, he sacrificed all to identify with and eventually take up the cause of an afflicted people, his people. He stood up to a kingdom that wanted his head for the crime of murder and demanded that they released the slaves upon whose shoulder (not to talk of sweat and blood) the economic strength of that kingdom rested. No mean stuff. He was not at the time nearly as educated in the ways of Jehovah as you were. In fact he took a stand long before he met that God.

Your history is full of people who were willing to give whatever it took to sanctify a faith borne in struggle. The more privileged among them were reminded that their status might well be as a result of divine providence in the pursuit of just causes. That was Mordechai’s response to an Esther fearful for her life when asked to break royal protocol for the sake of her people: an indiscretion that attracted capital punishment:

“For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; and thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed; and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this.3Esther 4:14

The Lord our God appreciates people getting involved with him to deal with situations that require direct action. Once at the time of Prophet Isaiah people felt all the pious needed to do was bend their knees and starve themselves in mournful supplication. God said: “No”.

In His words:

“Is not this the fast that I have chosen? To loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?  Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy reward.” 4Isaiah 58:6-8

God grants power and privilege for the breaking of yokes and the alleviation of suffering. Power without responsibility is vanity.

I do not think that a man your age (I imagine you were a very old man by the time Cyrus issued his decree) should carry brick and mortar, fetch wood and stones nor get rough and dirty in the grinding work of rebuilding. But a word in the right ear, and you had all the important ears widely open to your wisdom) might have lent weight to the positions of these Jewish patriots. Your political influence might have helped them to overcome some of the barriers some gentiles erected against their aspirations and teach the world that God grants power and privilege for the breaking of yokes and the alleviation of suffering. Power without responsibility  is vanity.

I say this in all honesty that what I have written here does not in any way diminish the honour in which I continue to hold you. Continue your rest.

Shalom.

References

References
1 Zechariah 4:6-7
2 Haggai 1:2-11
3 Esther 4:14
4 Isaiah 58:6-8

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