By REV. LUNA L. DINGAYAN
“If the God whom we serve is able to save us from the blazing furnace and from your power, then he will. But even if he does not, Your Majesty may be sure that we will not worship your god, and we will not bow down to the gold statue that you have set up. ” — Daniel 3:17-18
One of the most interesting parts of Rodolfo Noel “Jun” Lozada Jr.’s testimony in the Senate hearing on the National Broadband Network (NBN) deal is about his experience with the “ugly side of the state.” According to him, the death threats he has been receiving as a star witness in the corruption controversy surrounding the NBN deal is not the first time that happened to him. His brother Fernando was brutally killed by police authorities in May 17, 2001 in a case of mistaken identity.
In his testimony he said: “I have seen the ugly side of the state. When I was the one who was pursuing justice for my brother, I was receiving all of those death threats. It came to a point when I was shot at along EDSA. So I know what it means to be on the receiving end of the ugly side of the state.”
But is there a beautiful side of the state? Is it not that by its nature and origin, the state is an instrument of the elite to rule and dominate the masses? Is it possible for the state to be on the side of the people?
Daniel and His Friends
There is a beautiful Biblical story among the Apocalyptic writings in the Old Testament, particularly in the Book of Daniel (chapter 3), that talks about the ugly side of the state. Nebuchadnezzar was the powerful king of Babylon. He set up a gold statue and forced the people to bow down and worship the statue as their god. Anyone who would go against this decree will be put to death in a burning furnace.
But Daniel’s friends, namely: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, defied the king’s order, for they worship only the living God of Israel who made the heavens and the earth. Angered by their actuations, the king summoned them before his royal court. Before the powerful king, the three friends of Daniel testified saying: “If the God whom we serve is able to save us from the blazing furnace and from your power, then he will. But even if he does not, Your Majesty may be sure that we will not worship your god, and we will not bow down to the gold statue that you have set up.” (Daniel 3:17-18).
The king lost his temper and ordered the three friends of Daniel to be thrown into the blazing furnace. Miraculously, the three came out of the blazing furnace unharmed. And so the king said, “Praise to the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego! He sent his angel and rescued these men who serve and trust him. They disobeyed my orders and risked their lives rather than bow down and worship any god except their own. And now I command that if anyone of any nation, race, or language speaks disrespectfully of the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, he is to be torn limb from limb, and his house is to be made a pile of ruins. There is no other god who can rescue like this.” (Dan. 3:28-29).
The story ended saying, “And the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to higher positions in the province of Babylon.” (v. 30).
Faith and Courage
The story of Daniel’s friends tells us that the best antidote to any tyrannical, corrupt and abusive rule is faith and courage. It is the faith and courage of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego that exposed the ugly side of the state and the futility and bankruptcy of King Nebuchadnezzar’s rule. It is also the faith and courage of Jun Lozada that exposed the ugly side of the state and the corrupt system of governance of the Arroyo Administration.
The death threats on Jun Lozada’s life and family and the fears and anxieties he is subjected to are like the blazing furnace to which Daniel’s friends were thrown into. The nuns and priests who surround and protect him are like the angel who rescued Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. It is our hope and prayer that “Lozada’s angels” will continue to protect him until such time that the powers-that-be will confess the truth.
King Nebuchadnezzar had realized and confessed the truth that the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego is the true God, indeed, whom they should worship and obey. When will the powers-that-be in the Arroyo Administration accept and confess the truth that our nation is indeed going to the dogs due to graft and corruption and do something about it?
It is only when leaders of nations recognize that there is a power beyond themselves that they are able to show the beautiful side of the state. Leaders of nations can make the state serve the interest of the masses of people if and when they realize that power and authority ultimately comes from God. #