1 Kings 8:47-50
John Lennox in “Against the Flow” writes:
“The first chapter of the first half of Daniel parallels the first chapter of the second half. They both describe court scenes in the city of Babylon, involving different regimes; chapter 1, the Babylonian; chapter 6, the Medo-Persian. They both involve protest;
Chapter 1 tells us how Daniel and his friends refused to partake of the food and wine in the palace, presumably because of their association with idolatry (as witnessed in Daniel 5);
In chapter 6, Daniel refuses to obey the emperor’s edict banning prayer to all but himself. The protests are not quite the same, for if I understand it correctly chapter 1 involves refusal to compromise with idolatry by getting involved in any pagan ceremony.
The same issue also dominates Daniel 3; refusal to bow down to Nebuchadnezzars idolatrous image. However, at no state do we read that Nebuchadnezzar tries to stop Daniel and his friends practicing their own religion according to their conscience.
That step is taken by Darius in chapter 6. Here we have the first (but not the last) occasion recorded by Daniel where A PAGAN MONARCH BANS THE WORSHIP OF GOD.
The instrument that the jealous civil servants used to attack Daniel was the LAW OF THE MEDES AND PERSIANS.
This phrase occurs three times here, indication that the central topic of this chapter is the imposition of law to deny Daniel the right to practice his own faith and worship God ACCORDING TO THE LAW OF MOSES.”
Once again John Lennox comments on this section:
“The plan itself was calculated to appeal to Darius’s self-esteem, as a way of consolidating his power. After all, he was the king and the official representative of the gods. Surely it was but a small step to focus the worship of the people on himself as a god. If it were only FOR A MAN, it would not lead to a religious backlash from the priests or the people. It was all for the good of the state and the unity of the nation. And so on and so forth… We should not fail to notice a progression here. Belshazzar, in his blasphemous act, had worshipped his gods of metal and wood. He had not quite set himself up as a god to be worshipped. Darius did. Although he did not insult God in the way Belshazzar had done, it represents a deterioration. It was part of a trend that has continued through history, and will be sustained in the future – the move towards the deification of man (see 2 Thessalonians 2:4).”
John Lennox once again comments:
“Undoubtedly there are many intriguing questions connected with these periods of time, and various answers have been given to them. Whatever those answers are, it is surely fair to say that when there is discrimination, oppression, and persecution, the uppermost question in the minds of those immediately affected is “How long will this last?” The very fact that the conspirators suggested a time limit of thirty days may indicate that they suspected it would not be long before Daniel disobeyed the edict, and then they would have got him. The lions would make a meal of Daniel long before the thirty days had run out.”
“Take for instance, this statement of Judge Samuel B. Kent of the US District Court for the Southern District of Texas on his 1995 ruling that any student mentioning the name of Jesus in a graduation prayer would be given a jail sentence: “And make no mistake, the court is going to have a United States Marshal in attendance at the graduation. If any student offends this court, that student will be summarily arrested and will face up to six months incarceration in the Galveston County Jail for contempt of court……Anyone who violates these orders…….is going to wish that he or she had died as a child when this court gets through with it.”