“Dare to be a Daniel”.
Pretty much since I have heard of Daniel, I saw him as a man with the utmost courage who never gave in to fear. Who openly worshiped the Lord even under threat of brutal death. Daniel is one of a very small number of men with no record of their sins in the Old Testament.
And then there are Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. I love to read how they boldly proclaimed to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.”
While hearing of their faith can be encouraging, when I let fear haunt me or I fail in some way, it is easy to get discouraged, feeling that I could never live up to the example they left. . .
Of Fire and Lions
by Mesu Andrews
Publication Date March 5, 2019
Genres: Biblical Fiction, Christian Fiction, Action/Adventure, Historical Fiction
Setting: Babylon 732 - 539 BC
Written for: Adults
The Old Testament book of Daniel comes to life in this novel for readers of Lynn Austin's Chronicles of the Kings series or Francine Rivers' Mark of the Lion series.
Survival. A Hebrew girl first tasted it when she escaped death nearly seventy years ago as the Babylonians ransacked Jerusalem and took their finest as captives. She thought she'd perfected in the many years amongst the Magoi and the idol worshippers, pretending with all the others in King Nebuchadnezzar's court. Now, as Daniel's wife and a septuagenarian matriarch, Belili thinks she's safe and she can live out her days in Babylon without fear--until the night Daniel is escorted to Belshazzar's palace to interpret mysterious handwriting on a wall. The Persian Army invades, and Bellili's tightly-wound secrets unfurl with the arrival of the conquering army. What will the reign of Darius mean for Daniel, a man who prays to Yahweh alone? Ultimately, Yahweh's sovereign hand guides Jerusalem's captives, and the frightened Hebrew girl is transformed into a confident woman, who realizes her need of the God who conquers both fire and lions.
I would like to thank Mesu Andrews, Netgalley, Waterbrook & Multnomah for giving me this copy of the book. This gift did not influence my opinion or review.
Mesu Andrews brings the book of Daniel to life in this exciting tale. Not content to have her characters molded perfectly, without flaw, for her readers to wish they could emulate, she carves them out of flesh and blood and makes them fully human. She took the Biblical account and made it come to life for me more than than it has in the past as I considered even more the things the captives would have seen and experienced.
Belili, also known as Abigail, was one of the captives wrested from her life in Jerusalem and brought to Babylon in the company of Daniel and three other princes to whom she became a handmaiden. Despite an amazing encounter, when she later found herself deserted and alone, she allowed fear to dictate her choices and lead her into a life which she wished she could tuck away and hide from. And for decades she was able to do just that. Her fears and shame controlled her and the secrets she couldn’t share caused her children to despise her.
The author’s portrayal of Daniel was simply amazing! I hesitate to say much, not that I think you don’t know his story, but because I don’t want to give away the things you wouldn’t know about this story. The way she made him both more human and more admirable was nothing short of masterful. And quite encouraging.
I imagine one of the hardest things about writing historical fiction is potentially taking people’s preconceived ideas and tossing them out the window. There were a few things, especially at the beginning when Abigail is escaping from the palace at her Ima’s command, that made me think “but that’s not possible!” “If she had done that. . .” And yet I could also think of why it could be possible after I stopped to consider. Because of what David. . . And what the Babylonian soldiers did. . .
Early on, I determined to read without judging too quickly and to see where the author was going with this. I know that she has studied the events and the history surrounding this period much more than I ever have. I’m not saying I threw out everything I know. I balanced what I read with what I know of Scripture and of God’s nature. As long as there was nothing contradicting these two things, I would not stop reading.
And once I made that determination, I found myself getting wrapped up deeper and deeper in this incredible story that had me pondering things I have not pondered before. Potential reactions and motivations. And where was Daniel when his friends refused to bow to the image? Why wasn’t he cast into the furnace with them? The author’s suggestion was actually quite surprising.
While it was all extremely touching, one of the most impacting passages in this story for me was the depiction of the events during the seven years King Nebuchadnezzar was transformed and of when that time was over, I was nearly brought to tears.
One of the themes I keep seeing in my Bible reading this year, more than any other, is God’s longsuffering and the way He forgives again and again and again and again. The story of His faithfulness to His people even as they were in the exile imposed on them for their faithlessness is one that should have all of us humbled and awed – because isn’t that our story as well? Of Fire and Lions shows so clearly God’s patience with us and His love that is always ready to accept our repentance and forgive.
This story of fiery trials, shame, guilt, treachery, forgiveness, and faith is one that should not be missed!