Daniel 6; Jesus in the Lions’ Den ~ 20220313 ~ Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org
03/13_Daniel 06; Jesus in the Lion’s Den ; Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20220313_dan06.mp3
Example or Gospel?
The first six chapters of Daniel give us narratives, accounts of what happened to Daniel and his friends in Babylon, and they have many lessons for us on how to live with integrity in a culture that is hostile to God. The second half of the book is primarily the records of prophetic revelation, visions about future events, given to Daniel. Before we jump into that second half, I would like to pause and look back over the beginning chapters of the book, particularly chapter 6, through a different lens.
We can learn much from Daniel as an inspiring example to pursue; his faithful devotion to his God even when it will cost him everything, his blameless record of integrity before God and man, his uncomplaining submission in the face of injustice, his courageous confidence in his God even to death.
But if we are honest, we have to admit that we don’t live up to this standard. Not perfectly. We all fall short. We are not Daniel. If you’re anything like me, these stories can actually be discouraging, depressing, highlighting our own inadequacies, areas where we are not what we know we ought to be. If you resonate with that at all, I have good news for you today. I want to look today at Daniel, not as an example to attain to, but as a pointer to our need for someone to stand in our place, because we all fall short. The gospel, the good news of Christianity, is good news for sinners who are not good enough, who can never be good enough, who can never live up to God’s perfect standard. We all like sheep have gone astray. We have turned, every one to his or her own way (Is.53:6).
The good news is there is a substitute for sinners, one who stands in our place, lives the righteous life we fall so far short of, pays the debt we owe, and credits us with his perfect record of righteousness. Daniel is a shadow, a hint, a foreshadowing, a pointer to a greater reality, to the good news we find in Jesus.
There are a number of ways Daniel points us to our ultimate hope in Jesus. The message for us is not ‘do’; it’s ‘done’. Not ‘strive’ but ‘receive’; not ‘try’ but ‘enjoy’. So sinners, sit up, lean in, savor the good news about Jesus. Glory in the gospel. Treasure together what you have been freely given.
And here’s the amazing transforming power of the good news; when we stop looking at ourselves, at our shortcomings, at where we need to try harder and what we need to do, and we start looking at Jesus, who he is and what he has done, his amazing self-sacrificial love toward us his enemies, we are undone. We are no longer crushed by the weight of guilt, but that guilt is actually lifted off of us and placed on Jesus. We are freed to be what we were created to be. New desires begin to erupt in our hearts, a passion to live for him who lived and died for us, a readiness to lay down our lives for the glory of the one who laid down his life for us.
So let’s allow Daniel to point us to Jesus.
The Bible is a book that is brutally honest. It paints our heroes with startling accuracy. Abraham, father of the faithful, lies about his wife and allows her to be taken into a king’s harem to save his own skin, more than once. He sleeps with his slave girl, gets her pregnant, and then allows his wife to be abusive toward her and sends her and her son away into the wilderness to die.
Jacob, or Israel, after whom God’s chosen people are named, is a cunning deceiver, who weasels his brother out of his birthright, and then robs him of his father’s blessing, and then has to flee for his life. He ends up having children with his two wives and two concubines and experiences a train-wreck of a family life characterized by competition and favoritism and jealousy, that leads his sons to conspire to kill their spoiled younger brother. They end up selling him as a slave, killing a goat and bloodying his special robe, letting their father conclude he was killed by wild animals.
We also read about Judah sleeping with what he thinks is a prostitute, who turns out to be his daughter-in-law. These are the fathers of the 12 tribes of Israel.
Then we get to King David, man after God’s own heart, who stays home from battle, lets his eyes wander and watches a woman bathing, sleeps with this wife of one of his top trusted military men while he is off fighting David’s war. When she ends up pregnant he tries to cover it up, calls Uriah home from battle, gets him drunk, and because he has too much character to sleep with his own wife while his comrades are out fighting the battle, David sends him back to the front lines carrying orders for his own execution.
The bible is brutally honest that we all, even the great heroes of the faith, have sinned and fall short, and that we all need forgiveness and rescue. So when we get to Daniel, and we read that his enemies ‘sought to find a ground for complaint against Daniel with regard to the kingdom, but they could find no ground for complaint or any fault, because he was faithful, and no error or fault was found in him’ (6:4), we begin to wonder. No sin is recorded of Daniel, and even his contemporary Ezekiel names Daniel twice as a righteous man (Ezek.14:14, 20). In chapter 1, Daniel and his friends are said to be ‘without blemish’ (1:4); this is a term describing a requirement for a legitimate sacrificial animal (Lev.22:20-21). Daniel refused to ‘defile’ himself (1:8), another word that points to sin before God (Is.59:3). In chapter 6, Daniel refuses to commit a sin of omission, refusing even to neglect the good that he ought to do. Daniel, in the record before us, is perfect, sinless, righteous, never failing to do the good he ought to do. Daniel is called ‘servant of the living God, ...whom you serve continually’ (6:16, 20) by the pagan king. He declares from the pit ‘I was found blameless before [God]’ (6:22).
In this, Daniel is pointing us to Jesus, who, when his enemies ‘were seeking testimony against Jesus to put him to death, but they found none’ (Mk.14:55). The Father’s own testimony from heaven, both at the beginning and end of Jesus’ ministry was “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Mt.3:17;17:5).
Daniel points us to Jesus the ‘lamb without blemish or spot’ who ransomed us with his own precious blood (1Pet.1:19).
This would also help explain a rather surprising thing we find in Daniel 2:46, where after interpreting the king’s dream,
Daniel 2:46 Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell upon his face and paid homage to Daniel, and commanded that an offering and incense be offered up to him.
This feels uncomfortably close to worship, and we are surprised that Daniel does not quickly correct the king and reject this act of apparent worship (Ac.10:25-26). But if Daniel is prefiguring Jesus, Jesus rightly receives the worship of his people (Mt.2:11; 14:33; 28:9, 17; Lk.24:52; Jn.9:38).
Not only was Daniel without blemish, God gave Daniel wisdom and understanding (1:17). When he and his three friends were tested, ‘he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters that were in all his kingdom’ (1:20). Repeatedly God gave Daniel wisdom when all the wise men of Babylon came up empty.
When he was a young boy, we find Jesus ‘filled with wisdom’ and speaking with the teachers of Israel, and ‘all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers’ (Lk.2:40,47). Throughout his ministry, everyone was ‘astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes’ (Mt.7:28-29). Jesus truly embodied the wisdom of God.
Nebuchadnezzar recognized in Daniel ‘that the spirit of the holy gods is in you’ (4:8-9,18), and the queen mother and Belshazzar and Darius all recognized that ‘an excellent spirit was in him’ (5:11-12,14;6:3).
Jesus very conception was ‘from the Holy Spirit’ (Mt.1:18-20). At his baptism, the Spirit decended and remained on Jesus (Jn.1:32-33). He was ‘full of the Holy Spirit’, ‘was let by the Spirit’ and ‘returned in the power of the Spirit’ (Lk.4:1,14). He claimed ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me’ (Lk.4:18), and he did his mighty works ‘by the Spirit of God’ (Mt.12:28).
Daniel points us to Jesus, who lived by the Spirit of God.
Daniel was committed to prayer. When faced with the threat of death because the wise men failed to discern the king’s dream, he told his friends to ‘seek mercy from the God of heaven’ (2:18). We have several of Daniel’s prayers recorded for us in the book (2:20-23; 9). Daniel was so characterized by prayer that his enemies were able to entrap him by outlawing prayer. And yet he prayed three times a day, as he had always done (6:10, 13).
We see of Jesus, the Son of God, God in the flesh,
Mark 1:35 And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.
Mark 6:46 ...he went up on the mountain to pray. 47 And when evening came, ...he was alone on the land.
It was his habit to ‘withdraw to desolate places and pray’ (Lk.5:16). On occasion,
Luke 6:12 ...he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God.
Throughout his life and ministry Jesus depended on his Father for everything.
In Daniel chapter 9, Daniel intercedes on behalf of his people, confessing their sins as his own. In John 17, before laying down his life for his people, Jesus prayed to the Father for them, that they would know him, that he would keep them, give them unity, sanctify them, and that through their testimony, the world would believe.
It is interesting that the arrest both of Daniel and Jesus came after praying three times, Daniel in his upper room, Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane (6:10; Mt.26:39, 42, 44)
Why Do the Nations Rage? v. 6, 11, 15
Consumed with jealousy, the other high officials maliciously conspired against Daniel.
Daniel 6:5 Then these men said, “We shall not find any ground for complaint against this Daniel unless we find it in connection with the law of his God.” 6 Then these high officials and satraps came by agreement to the king and said to him, “O King Darius, live forever! 7 All the high officials of the kingdom, the prefects and the satraps, the counselors and the governors are agreed that the king should establish an ordinance and enforce an injunction, that whoever makes petition to any god or man for thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions.
This word ‘came by agreement’ literally means ‘to gather tumultously’, to gather as a mob. This word shows up two more times in this passage (6:11,15); when they gathered to spy on Daniel praying, and when they gathered to demand that the king obey his own ordinance.
The only place in the Bible the Hebrew equivalent to this word ‘gather tumultously’ appears is in Psalm 2;
Psalm 2:1 Why do the nations rage [gather tumultuously] and the peoples plot in vain?
This is a verbal link connecting these two passages. The nations raged against Daniel; they gathered tumultuously. They conspired together, they took counsel, they plotted against him.
If you are familiar with Psalm 2, you know it is messianic, pointing to Jesus.
Psalm 2:1 Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? 2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying, 3 “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” 4 He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. 5 Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, 6 “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.” 7 I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you. 8 Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. 9 You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.” 10 Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. 11 Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. 12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.
Daniel is the one appointed (or anointed if you will) by the king to rule over all his kingdom. The nations rage against Daniel, but they plot in vain. This all points to Jesus, the only begotten Son of YHWH, who laughs at their vain conspiracies, who will crush all his enemies, but who will bless all who take refuge in him.
Daniel and the Cross
We don’t have time to go into detail on all the ways Daniel points us to Jesus, but let me list a few things, and see if they sound familiar.
Both Daniel and Jesus are falsely accused, victims of conspiracy by those whose positions are threatened by them. They are taken while praying in their customary place of prayer. Daniel says nothing in chapter 6 until verse 21, the day after he was thrown to the lions.
Isaiah 53:7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.
1 Peter 2:22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.
At the end of chapter 5, the wicked king who had no respect for Daniel or his God, clothes him in purple and proclaims him third ruler in the kingdom the very night that kingdom fell. Jesus:
Mark 15:17 And they clothed him in a purple cloak, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on him. 18 And they began to salute him, “Hail, King of the Jews!”
Daniel’s innocence and the jealous conspiracy against him was recognized by the king, whose attempt to free him was futile.
John 18:38 Pilate ...went back outside to the Jews and told them, “I find no guilt in him.
John 19:4 Pilate went out again and said to them, “See, I am bringing him out to you that you may know that I find no guilt in him.”
...6 When the chief priests and the officers saw him, they cried out, “Crucify him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him, for I find no guilt in him.”
Matthew 27:25 And all the people answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!”
Ultimately Darius, like Pilate, caved to the pressure and had Daniel thrown to the lions.
Why lions? Wild beasts were threatened in Deuteronomy 32:24 as a consequence for covenant unfaithfulness. Jesus quoted the opening lines of Psalm 22 from the cross, a Psalm that expresses many details of the agony of crucifixion, says
Psalm 22:12 Many bulls encompass me; strong bulls of Bashan surround me; 13 they open wide their mouths at me, like a ravening and roaring lion. ...21 Save me from the mouth of the lion! You have rescued me from the horns of the wild oxen!
The Tomb and the Resurrection
Daniel 6:17 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.
You can’t miss the connection here! Joseph laid the body of Jesus in his own new tomb, and ‘rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb’ (Mt.27:60). At the demand of the religious leaders, Pilate gave them a guard of soldiers, the tomb was made secure and the stone was sealed.
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?”
Not a bone was broken (Jn.19:36).
Luke 24:1 But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. 2 And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. 5 And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? 6 He is not here, but has risen. ...
But here’s a crucial difference: while Daniel was preserved and delivered without a scratch, and his enemies died in his place, Jesus died in place of his evil enemies, he was crushed for our iniquities, and he retains the scars of his sacrifice for eternity. Daniel was rescued from death by his own righteousness; Jesus suffered death on account of our unrighteousness as our substitute.
This is the good news; that although we all sin and fall so far short, we have a perfect substitute who willingly took our place and the punishment we deserve, so we can enjoy him forever. It is finished!
2022.03.13 Sermon Notes
Daniel 6 – Jesus in the Lion’s Den
Example to attain to or Gospel to treasure?
Daniel 1:4, 8; 6:4, 16, 20, 22; Ezekiel 14:14, 20
Leviticus 22:20-21; Isaiah 59:3;
Mark 14:55; Matthew 3:17; 17:5; 1 Peter 1:19
Acts 10:25-26; 14:11-15; Revelation 19:10; 22:8-9
Matthew 2:11; 14:33; 28:9, 17; Luke 24:52; John 9:38
Daniel 1:17, 20; Luke 2:40, 47; Matthew 7:28-29
Daniel 4:8-9, 18; 5:11-12, 14; 6:3
Matthew 1:18-20; 12:28 John 1:32-33; Luke 4:1, 14, 18
Devoted to Prayer
Daniel 2:18, 20-23; 6:10, 13; 9:3-21
Mark 1:35; 6:46; Luke 5:16; 6:12; Matthew 26:39, 42, 44
Why do the nations rage?
Daniel 6:6, 11, 15; Psalm 2:1
Daniel 6:21; Isaiah 53:7; 1 Peter 2:22; Matthew 27:12-14
Clothed in Purple
Daniel 5:29-30; Mark 15:17-18
Daniel 6:14-16, 20-22; John 18:38; 19:4, 6; Matthew 27:25
Daniel 6:17, 19-20; Matthew 27:60; John 19:36; Luke 24:1-6
Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org