September 14, 2022
Therefore King Darius signed the document, that is, the injunction. Now when Daniel knew that the document was signed, he entered his house (now in his roof chamber he had windows open toward Jerusalem); and he continued kneeling on his knees three times a day, praying and giving thanks before his God, as he had been doing previously. (Daniel 6:9-10)
There is a higher law. Is there a time for the follower of Christ to disobey the direct laws of the government in which they live? The answer is a resounding “yes.”
Believers are called to pray for their governmental leaders, even if they disagree with them (1 Timothy 2:1-2). They are also commanded to obey civil authorities. Jesus told his disciples they were to render unto Caesar what was Caeser’s. The Roman government was completely godless, but overcoming a humanistic government was not Christ’s concern. He worked to bring in His new kingdom in the midst of whatever government was ruling.
But are there moments when believers are asked by the government to do things or stop doing things that violate God’s clear Biblical commands? Things that are foundational to life and godliness such as prayer, reading the Word, sharing the gospel, respecting life, and worshiping the Lord? What should we do when the government commands us to disobey the Scripture?
Daniel was a man who rose head and shoulders above others in his day. Even the king recognized that “he possessed an extraordinary spirit,” and the king planned to “appoint him over the entire kingdom.” But Daniel was hated by those who did not know God. They devised a devious but silly scheme, asking the King to make a decree that no one should pray to any god except the king’s pagan gods, or they would suffer the lion’s den.
Knowing the law, Daniel calmly (with an open window) kept right on praying and kneeling three times a day. He knew what was happening, and jealous leaders and humanistic plans did not threaten him. This was not Daniel’s first rodeo. He had been through many such experiences in Babylon and trusted his sovereign God, who ruled over every king.
You know the rest of the story. Daniel was arrested and thrown into the lion’s den. God shut the lions’ mouths all night. The King was so enraged at the jealous leaders that he threw them into the hole, and the lions ate them up before they touched the ground. Guess they were hungry after a long night of angelic fasting.
FEAR GOD AND NOT MAN
We need not fear men. The principle seems to be that we are to submit in every way possible to the government until we are asked to do something that directly violates Scripture. When Chinese believers were asked to stop worshiping, they continued, sometimes in secret, but always to their peril. When Peter and John were told to stop preaching, they said, “We cannot stop speaking of what we’ve seen and heard.” Faithful Christians, through the ages, have feared no man nor government. Their boldness and even martyrdom have served only to advance the gospel in ways beyond belief.
There are limits for the believer. And when those limits are crossed, we have the encouragement of God and the testimony of Scripture to keep right on serving Him. And “if we perish, we perish” in this life and head to an eternal kingdom with a perfect King.
Father, give me the wisdom to be gracious and submissive to those who oversee our government. Give me a prophetic voice, but also let me exhibit grace and love. Make me bold in my speaking and unwavering in my praying. Help me to persevere when falsely threatened and continue night and day to serve You.
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