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to his palace, and passed the night fasting: he could not sleep, and early in the morning he went unto the place where the prophet was shut up with the wild beasts: “and when he came to the den, he cried with a lamentable voice unto Daniel: and the king spake, and said to Daniel,-0 Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions?" - Then said Daniel unto the king, O king, live for ever;(46) my God hath sent His angel, and hath shut the lions' mouths, that they have not hurt me.” “Then was the king exceeding glad for him, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den:" and when he was taken out, “no manner of liurt was found upon him, because he believed in his God!” Thus did the Almighty once more preserve the life of his servant; and may we never, in word or action, be tempted to deny a God who both çan and will protect those who trust and believe in Him.
King Darius then commanded that those men who had accused Daniel should be brought, and with their families thrown into the den of lions; and when they were çast in, God no longer kept back the rage of the animals, for they brake all their bones in pieces before they reached the bottom of the den. Thus we have for our Heavenly Father, a God who can say to the raging waves, “Peace, be still;” or tame the wildest beast of the forest, and make him, when He pleases, gentle as a lamb: yet, for the punishment of those who have hardened their hearts against Him, or offended any of His little ones, He can cloud the bright and bounding sea with storm and tempest, and give unto the lion all his strength and fury.
The captivity of the Jews lasted seventy years, when they were sent back to their country by Cyrus king of Persia, who gave out a command that all who were of Judah should go up to Jerusalem, because the Lord had told him to build a temple there to His name. Here we again see the power of that God who rules the world: Hemade Nebuchadnezzar the means of punishing His people for their sins, by laying waste their country, and carrying them into bondage; but, when the time of His wrath was over, He caused Cyrus to turn his thoughts towards this people, and restore them to their country.
This prince helped the poorer sort on their journey, and gave to the people all the vessels which had been taken from Solomon's temple. They were to be governed by their own laws, and in the second year after their return, they began to build a house to the Lord God of Israel: but how unlike the raising of the first temple by Solomon, which took place in a time of peace and joy, when their country was under the reign of a wise and mighty prince, and they were favored with the approbation of the King of kings. Now they were a poor remnant of those who had left their once happy country, yet subject to the more powerful nations around them, and troubled by the Samaritans, who tried to prevent their work by sending a letter to king Artaxerxes, who forbade them to go on; but after awhile their prophets persuaded them to begin again, and the decree of Cyrus was found wherein he had set them about the work;"
After the temple was finished, Nehemiah caused the people to rebuild the wall of the city; but they had to work - with their tools in one hand and a weapon in the other, to protect them from their enemies. When this was done, the people made a solemn fast, humbled themselves before the Lord, and owned Him for their God, saying, “Thou, even Thou, art God alone.” They praised Him who chose their father Abraham; made him faithful; had pity upon the afflictions of their fathers in Egypt; led them, by the pillar of cloud and fire, through the desert; fed them from heaven; gave them water to drink; brought them into the promised land, and forgave them many times, when they sinned against Him: the people at this time prayed of Him, who had given their enemies power over them, yet, because of His mercy, had not quite cut them off, that He would once more be with them, and have pity on His servants.
The Jews were for many years subject to the Persians, during which time the whole nation were very near being cut off,
by the power of a man named Haman, who was in great favor with the king; but He who had so often cared for His people, miraculously prevented it.
The king's wife, queen Esther, was a Jewess, and she had a relation named Mordecai, who sat in the king's gate,(?) and had been the means of saving the life of Ahasuerus: now this man was not liked by Haman, because he did not bow to him, and did not do him honour whenever he went in and out before the king: his vanity was hurt, and he wished for revenge, but he did not care to have it upon Mordecai alone, but made up his mind that all his nation should suffer, for he had found out that he was a Jew; for which purpose he spoke evil of them to the king, and begged that they might all be put to death; to which Ahasuerus agreed, for he did not know that the queen his wife was one of this despised people. Think what a hard-hearted, cruel man must Haman have been, who, because one man refused to flatter his vanity, could seek to kill and destroy a whole nation.
When Mordecai heard what had been done, he sent word to Esther, who commanded that all her people should fast