My Mom and Dad used to love taking their young grandchildren on adventures. One of their favorite destinations was the Columbus Zoo.
Dad said that one time, while visiting the lion exhibit, my nephew who was about three at the time, got the attention of one of the adult lions. Ryan walked up to the thick glass wall, and the lion met him there, face to face. Ryan walked a few steps to the right, the lion followed. Ryan walked to the left, the lion followed. It soon became a game between boy and lion, and the crowd of people at the exhibit laughed at the silliness.
“Isn’t that cute? The lion likes the boy.”
“Yeah,” my dad said. “For dinner.”
That lion wasn’t playing a game of follow-the-leader with the boy. That lion was stalking its prey. And only the glass wall prevented my nephew from being torn to pieces and savagely eaten by the wild beast.
Do you remember Roy Horn of Seigfried and Roy, entertainers who used white tigers in their act? Roy raised those animals from a young age. He treated them like kittens, loved them, played with them. They were his pets.
But one night, one of those “pets” savagely grabbed Roy around the neck, and began to drag him off stage. Roy sustained life threatening injuries, and his life has never been the same.
A wild animal is not a character in a Disney cartoon.
Throwing Daniel into the lions’ den was sentencing the man to an awful, violent, and terrifying death. But we know he didn’t die.
The story doesn’t end there, however. Darius, the king who had been tricked into condemning Daniel, had the men who deceived him thrown into the den of lions. He sentenced those jealous, evil, conniving low-lifes to the same death they’d planned for Daniel.
Now if that was the extent of it, I’d say they got what they deserved. But the Bible tells us Darius didn’t stop with the men who’d plotted against Daniel. The king had their wives and children thrown into the lions’ den as well. Their wives and children met with the same gruesome end as the men.
I can hear you shouting, “NOT FAIR.”
I’m not going to try to argue that except to say, if you read this you’ll not see God tell Darius to kill those people. I know the God of the Bible takes no pleasure in people dying without Him. He doesn’t want anyone to suffer the agony of hell. In fact, He paid the awful, violent, and terrifying death we all deserve.
But the Bible is also clear: the guilty will not go unpunished. Hell is real. And people who die without honoring God really do go there.
Here’s what occurred to me today: Many people – maybe you although I pray not – are ignoring God, or disobeying Him. Some deny Him or defy Him. The Bible tells us if that’s the case – be prepared for an awful, violent, terrifying existence for eternity, knowing you had a chance to avoid it all.
But I want to ask you – how many of your loved ones are you willing to take down with you?
You might brag like a post I read on FaceBook recently, “Yeah, I’m going to hell, and enjoying every step of the way.” But what is that message saying to your children? You do know, don’t you, that you are the single greatest influence on your children for the good or for the bad.
You might be appalled at the story here in Daniel, when you are doing the exact same thing. Your life does have an effect on your loved ones… an eternal effect. You may be foolishly willing to go to hell. Just understand that that precious child in your lap is watching you, imitating you, learning to think and believe like you.
It’s NOT FAIR of YOU to take them with you.