Daniel 6:24-28; Poetic Justice and Pursuit of the Nations ~ 20220306 ~ Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org
03/06_Daniel 06:24-28; Poetic Justice and Pursuit of the Nations ; Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20220306_dan06_24-28.mp3
Daniel’s confidence in his God was unshaken regardless of his circumstances. What he thought, what he felt, what he did was not contingent on what other people thought of him, or expected of him, or even what they plotted against him.
Daniel 6:10 When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously.
Those who conspired against him had planned well. They understood enough of the character of Daniel to know that he would remain committed to his God no matter what. They knew enough of the king to know that he could be taken by flattery, and their plan to get him to sign his name and then use his own words against him worked. They now had gained the upper hand, their jealousy found vent, and the king must carry out their desire to have their rival executed.
Daniel 6:16 Then the king commanded, and Daniel was brought and cast into the den of lions. The king declared to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, deliver you!” 17 And a stone was brought and laid on the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet and with the signet of his lords, that nothing might be changed concerning Daniel. 18 Then the king went to his palace and spent the night fasting; no diversions were brought to him, and sleep fled from him.
Daniel’s fate, and his tomb, was sealed. The king was greatly distressed, but despite his best efforts, could do nothing to change the outcome. He was driven to his knees.
Daniel 6:19 Then, at break of day, the king arose and went in haste to the den of lions. 20 As he came near to the den where Daniel was, he cried out in a tone of anguish. The king declared to Daniel, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?” 21 Then Daniel said to the king, “O king, live forever! 22 My God sent his angel and shut the lions' mouths, and they have not harmed me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no harm.” 23 Then the king was exceedingly glad, and commanded that Daniel be taken up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no kind of harm was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.
The king’s great distress turned into great gladness. The Lord was indeed able to deliver Daniel. ‘My God sent his messenger.’ Jesus was present with Daniel in the den of lions. And he came out unscathed. No kind of harm was found on him. I don’t know how deep the pit was into which he was cast, but you would think that a man in his 80’s, maybe so full of grit and gristle to be unappetizing to lions, would at least come away from that with a broken hip or ankle. But ‘no kind of harm was found on him.’
He was cast into the pit, but he had already cast himself fully on the Lord his God. He was quietly leaning into the Lord alone, and it was his Lord who delivered him.
Daniel 6:24 And the king commanded, and those men who had maliciously accused Daniel were brought and cast into the den of lions—they, their children, and their wives. And before they reached the bottom of the den, the lions overpowered them and broke all their bones in pieces.
This is a grizzly scene. If there was any question if the lions were too tame or old or overfed to be interested in eating someone, what happened next removed all doubt. The other officials had thought they had gained the upper hand. Even if their open manipulation of the king and the law to carry out their own desires worked in disposing of Daniel, their jealousy had blinded them to the reality that their actions would cause the king never trust them again.
Their plan was carefully crafted, but they didn’t think through the full implications of their actions, and they certainly didn’t believe Daniel’s God would actually deliver him from the lions.
There is a principle we find in Proverbs:
Proverbs 26:27 Whoever digs a pit will fall into it, and a stone will come back on him who starts it rolling. 28 A lying tongue hates its victims, and a flattering mouth works ruin.
This is poetic justice at its best. The one who digs a pit will fall into it. The one who sets a trap for others will himself fall into the trap he has made. This principle is rooted in God’s law against bearing false witness:
Deuteronomy 19:16 If a malicious witness arises to accuse a person of wrongdoing, ...18 ... and if the witness is a false witness and has accused his brother falsely, 19 then you shall do to him as he had meant to do to his brother. So you shall purge the evil from your midst. 20 And the rest shall hear and fear, and shall never again commit any such evil among you. 21 Your eye shall not pity. It shall be life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.
You shall do to him as he had meant to do to his brother. Jesus gives the positive side of this teaching:
Matthew 7:12 “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. (cf. Lk. 6:31)
Whatever you wish others would not do to you, you must not do to them. God will bring about justice. You will reap what you sow. We see this principle throughout the Psalms. Psalm 7 begins with a declaration of trust in God.
Psalm 7:1 O LORD my God, in you do I take refuge; save me from all my pursuers and deliver me, 2 lest like a lion they tear my soul apart, rending it in pieces, with none to deliver.
The Psalm concludes with a description of his adversaries, and the outcome of their evil plans:
Psalm 7:14 Behold, the wicked man conceives evil and is pregnant with mischief and gives birth to lies. 15 He makes a pit, digging it out, and falls into the hole that he has made. 16 His mischief returns upon his own head, and on his own skull his violence descends. 17 I will give to the LORD the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the LORD, the Most High.
Psalm 57 begins the same way, with a declaration of dependence on the Lord for protection:
Psalm 57:1 ….in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by. ... 3 He will send from heaven and save me; he will put to shame him who tramples on me. — Selah God will send out his steadfast love and his faithfulness!
Then he states the danger he is in:
Psalm 57:4 My soul is in the midst of lions; I lie down amid fiery beasts— the children of man, whose teeth are spears and arrows, whose tongues are sharp swords.
He goes on;
Psalm 57:6 They set a net for my steps; my soul was bowed down. They dug a pit in my way, but they have fallen into it themselves. — Selah
And he concludes with worship.
Psalm 57:11 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth!
There is a poetic justice that God will bring about, ultimately to his own glory. Those who dig a pit will fall into the hole they dug. Those who manipulated the king to destroy the blameless are consumed by the very lions they expected would eat Daniel. God is just, and ultimately God will bring about justice.
Parallels between 3 and 6
If we look at the structure of the book of Daniel, we see that chapter 6 is the mirror of chapter 3, and there are so many instructive parallels between this and the fiery furnace of Nebuchadnezzar.
The background of both chapters is the elevation of captives from Judah to positions of authority, and the jealousy of their peers.
In chapter 3, it is the king in his pride who sets up his own image and demands that all bow to pay allegiance. In chapter 6 it is the other officials who by subterfuge manipulate the king to pass a law that feeds his own ego, that all would pay allegiance to him.
In chapter 3 the danger is a sin of commission; the command requires that they do something; to commit idolatry by bowing to the king’s statue. In chapter 6 the danger is a sin of omission; something regularly to be done is now forbidden. The three refused to bow; Daniel continued to give thanks to his God in prayer, as he had always done. In 3, the disobedience is public; in 6 it is private.
In both chapters, the rebellion is observed by the jealous opponents and they ‘draw near’ to accuse them before the king; and the rebellion is framed as personal; they ‘pay no attention to you O king’. In chapter 3, the king offers them another chance to bow, but they decline; in chapter 6, the three times a day disobedience precludes the need for another test.
In chapter 3, the king is furious at the insolence of the rebels and demands that the punishment be exaggerated. In chapter 6, the king is greatly distressed, and seeks to find a way to rescue from the consequences of his own law, but fails.
In chapter 3, the king issues a challenge ‘who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?’ In chapter 6, the king expresses his hope ‘may your God ...deliver you’.
In chapter 3, the three believers confess their unshakable faith that their God is able to ‘deliver’, but even if he does not, they will not be unfaithful to him. In chapter 6, Daniel is silent, and it is the king who offers the hope of deliverance by God.
In both, the offenders are ‘cast’ into a pit. In both, the Son of God is with them in the pit. In chapter 3, Nebuchadnezzar observes the fourth man in the fire, and invites them to come out. In chapter 6, Daniel gives testimony of the one who was with him in the pit, and the king orders him to be lifted out. In both, those who serve their God come out of the pit without the least harm, and those around them are able to inspect them and testify to the miraculous deliverance by God.
In 3 the soldiers inadvertently die in the superheated furnace while obeying the king’s orders, where in 6 those who conspired against Daniel are commanded by the king to be thrown to the lions.
These two episodes are paired in the record of the faithful in Hebrews 11:
Hebrews 11:33 who through faith ...stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the power of fire, ...
What can we learn from this?
-God cares just as much about our private as our public devotion to him.
-Sins of omission (failing to give him thanks) are just as real as sins of commission (worshiping false gods).
-God may not exempt us from suffering, but he is with his people when they go through trials for the sake of his name.
-We learn from their examples that this life is not all there is; they knew that obedience to God, even if it cost them their lives, would be worth it. As Hebrews puts it,
Hebrews 11:13 ...having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. ...16 ...they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. ...
Learning Theology from Sufferers
Both chapters end with an edict; Nebuchadnezzar blessed God and made a decree that no people, nation or language should speak anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego under penalty of death, and he promoted them in the province of Babylon.
Here in chapter 6,
Daniel 6:25 Then King Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth: “Peace be multiplied to you. 26 I make a decree, that in all my royal dominion people are to tremble and fear before the God of Daniel, for he is the living God, enduring forever; his kingdom shall never be destroyed, and his dominion shall be to the end. 27 He delivers and rescues; he works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth, he who has saved Daniel from the power of the lions.” 28 So this Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.
Through this ordeal, Darius began to understand what the true God is like. He learned that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. All people ought to tremble and fear before him. He is the life-giver, the source and sustainer of all that is. In him is life. He is alive and active, at work in this world today. He is eternal, with no beginning or end, he is the unchangeable uncaused cause. He is the ultimate king, and no one can conquer his kingdom. The kingdoms of this earth rise and fall, come and go, but his rule will go on forever.
Not only is he the sovereign eternal living God, but he is the Savior. He is the only one who can deliver and rescue. He can save his people from the power of the lions. He is a miracle worker. He does signs and wonders in heaven and on earth to draw attention not to the signs and wonders, but to himself. He is eternal king and mighty to save. And he wants us to know him.
Darius, like his predecessor Nebuchadnezzar, learned some good theology from believers in this God who simply lived out their faith even in the face of suffering and death.
On Mission to Bless the Nations
Remember, it was not by random chance that God’s people ended up exiled in Babylon; God sent them into exile. And he had multiple purposes for doing so. He was punishing their disobedience, but he was also sending them out on mission with good news to the nations. He chose them and blessed them so that they would be a blessing, and that ‘in you shall all the nations be blessed’ (Gal.3:8). God had a purpose in their circumstances.
What is your circumstance today, and how might God be intending to use that for his glory and to bring good news to the nations?
2022.03.06 Sermon Notes
Daniel 6:24-28 – Poetic Justice and Pursuit of the Nations
Quiet Confidence in the Lord
Daniel 3:16-18; 6:10
Proverbs 26:27-28; Deuteronomy 19:16-21; Psalm 7; 57
Parallel structure: chapters 3 and 6
-public and private devotion
-sins of commission and sins of omission
-God is with us in the trials
-this life is not all there is
Hebrews 11:13-16, 33-34
Learning theology from sufferers
-the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Prov. 9:10)
-God is the life-giver (Jer.10:10; Jn.1:4)
-God is eternal (Is.40:28; 41:4; 43:10; 44;6)
-God is sovereign king (Ps.93:1-2; Lk.1:33; 1Tim.1:17; 6:15)
-God alone saves (Ps.3:8; 62:1-2,5-7 ; Is.63:1 )
On mission to bless the nations
Jeremiah 29:7; Galatians 3:8; Genesis 12:3
Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org