Bo Wagner is pastor of the Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, NC, a widely traveled evangelist, and the author of several books. His books are available on Amazon and at www.wordofhismouth.com
Daniel 5:19 And for the majesty that he gave him [Nebuchadnezzar, Circa 562 B.C.], all people, nations, and languages, trembled and feared before him: whom he would he slew; and whom he would he kept alive; and whom he would he set up; and whom he would he put down.
Daniel 6:14-15 Then the king [Darius, Circa 537 B.C.], when he heard these words, was sore displeased with himself, and set his heart on Daniel to deliver him: and he laboured till the going down of the sun to deliver him. Then these men assembled unto the king, and said unto the king, Know, O king, that the law of the Medes and Persians is, That no decree nor statute which the king establisheth may be changed.
Though separated by just a couple of pages in the Bible, the kings and kingdoms mentioned above were radically different. As Daniel spoke to king Belshazzar in first passage, he hearkened back to Belshazzar’s grandfather, king Nebuchadnezzar. He reminded Belshazzar that Nebuchadnezzar was autocratic and unchallengeable. Whatever he said was regarded as law simply because he said it. Written law was subservient to him, not the other way around.
But not many years after, Babylon fell to the Medes and the Persians. And when king Darius took the throne, Daniel found himself elevated to a position of great power in the kingdom. This drew the ire of some very jealous politicians, and they tricked the king into signing a law that they knew would get Daniel into trouble. Barring a miracle it would, in fact, cost him his life.
Darius trusted and valued Daniel. When he realized what had happened and how he had been duped, he “set his heart on Daniel to deliver him: and he labored till the going down of the sun to deliver him.” But by nightfall the conspirators assembled and reminded the king that everyone was subject to the written law, including him.
Had this happened a couple of decades earlier, Nebuchadnezzar would simply have tossed the law out, delivered Daniel, and killed the conspirators on the spot.
Do you see how much better things were under Darius and an authoritative, written code of law rather than under Nebuchadnezzar and law by fiat?
You are, most likely, a bit confused by now. It seems on the surface that the opposite is true. But please allow me to ask a rather pertinent question at this point. Based on the wording of Daniel 5:19, who was afraid and uncertain under the reign and governmental structure of Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon?
In Daniel chapter six under the reign of Darius and the governmental structure of the Medes and Persians, who was afraid and uncertain? Maybe Daniel. But definitely the king himself.
Do you see the difference? Neither system was perfect. The more constitutional form of government was able, with great effort, to be perverted for evil ends directed at one man. But under the autocratic form of government, everyone, everywhere, every day walked about with a veritable sword of Damocles hanging over their own heads instead of over the head of the king. Rule by decree leaves men no security and no recourse when things go bad.
I am a bit fearful for our country, right now. Not just during this coronavirus crisis, but even predating it by many years, there has been a strong shift in governance toward rule by men rather than rule by law. “Czars” are appointed with authority to speak as if their words are law. Ditto all of the agencies within government. And now, “for our own good,” people are being told where they can and cannot go, what they can and cannot buy, whom they can and cannot be with, and what they can and cannot do. And, though we are ostensibly a constitutional republic, I hear very few politicians saying “the Constitution only gives us the right to go to this particular line, and no further,” and then pointing to that line and its matching spot in said Constitution.
I do not want anyone to die. I also do not want liberty to die. I do not want America to be born under the rallying cry “Give me liberty, or give me death,” and then to meekly pass away under the banner, “Give me a mask, a curfew, and a benevolent overlord.”
We ought to struggle just as hard to save liberty as we do to save lives. A virus will soon pass; a political class with a taste of absolute power is much harder to ever be rid of.
Pastor Wagner can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
(Feature photo by Pastor Bo Wagner)