- Rev. Bradford G. Olson
Did you know that "Bel and the Dragon" is a book in the Bible?
Did you know that "Bel and The Dragon" is a book in the Bible?
This is the question a very curious and genuine person asked me as I was greeting people after the worship service. We had been doing an overview of the New Testament and I made some comments about books that didn't make it. They seemed pretty sure that they had heard about this book from somewhere credible. My first thought was that they were thinking about a new Disney movie.
I did a little looking, and sure enough there it is! Well, sort of. It is actually in an appendix in some Bibles called the Apocrypha that includes about a dozen books that were written in the time between the Old and New Testaments.
It was written as a 14th chapter to the book of the prophet Daniel. It is only a page or two long, so it is an easy read. It turns out Bel is not a person, but a bronze statue. The King of Persia would worship it and take it flower, meat, and wine as an offering. Daniel showed up and told him that Bel wasn't a real god. The King asked, "If it isn't real, where does all that food go?"
Daniel and the King decided to find out. They sealed a room with the food given to Bel. Sure enough, the food disappeared. It didn't look good for Daniel until he showed the King a secret door and a bunch of footprints of the priests, their wives and children. Apparently, they had been partying at the King's expense.
The Dragon was a creature that the Babylonians revered. Daniel believed that God was the only one who should be worshiped, so he poisoned the dragon. People were so upset that they threw Daniel into a den with hungry lions. This last part of the chapter seems to be a little more of the backstory to how Daniel got thrown into the lions' den.
Now that I have read it, I am feeling pretty good that I don't worship a bronze statue or a dragon. Then, I decided to be a little more honest. Maybe the better question is, "Are there things that I revere more than I should?" I'll admit I am probably more attached to my cell phone than I should be, but do I revere it? I really like it when the sun comes out, but do I depend on the sunshine to determine my attitude more than I should? I like to exercise, but are there times when I let all the mirrors let me get me too self-absorbed?
As I thought about it a little more, I decided that it does ask a really good question: What are the things that are important to me? And, do they draw me closer to God, or do they get in the way of a genuine relationship with the Lord? I do believe is that anything that comes between me and God is closer to me than God, and that is not a good thing.
Thank you for taking the time to wonder a little with me.