Text: Daniel Chapters 4-6
OBSERVE: In chapters four and five, we see the pride and fall of two kings; Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar. The latter is killed as the Babylonians were defeated by Darius the Mede who took reign over the kingdom. Darius would then soon find himself in a very difficult predicament in chapter six, as he is fooled into signing an unjust law that stated that anyone who prayed to a god other than him would be thrown into a den of lions. Darius never expected that the one caught in the trap of this law would be his most trusted and intelligent administrator, Daniel. But Darius could not revoke the law as it was: “an official law of the Medes and the Persians that cannot be revoked” (Daniel 6:8). So despite the regret of Darius, Daniel was thrown into the den of lions with the king exclaiming “May your God, whom you serve so faithfully, rescue you” (6: 16).
INTERPRET: And we read that God did in fact rescue Daniel as is witnessed the next morning when Darius opened the den. Daniel appears to Darius and says “My God sent his angel to shut the lions’ mouths so that they would not hurt me, for I have been found innocent in his sight” (6: 22). This story clearly foreshadows another (Jesus) who would come centuries later, who also was a victim of an unjust law. Those who would hate Jesus could find nothing to charge him with and so they accused him of blasphemy. And just as the law could not be set aside for Daniel, neither could it be changed for Jesus. So Jesus was cast into the ultimate den of death and placed in a sealed tomb. He, too, entrusted himself to God.
APPLICATION: There is one big detail that makes all the difference between the two stories. No angel came to rescue Jesus from death despite having all the angels at his disposal. Rather than being rescued, Jesus told Peter when he tried to defend Jesus from those who came to arrest him: “But how than would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen this way?” (Matthew 26: 53-54). Why does Jesus say it “must” happen? Because of God’s perfect justice, punishment must be carried out. The lion of God’s justice must roar against sin. And so that we can be rescued from the jaws of the justice we deserve, Jesus endured the violence of the Lion’s wrath.
Today, we are to have faith like Daniel in the promises of our God knowing that God has entered the lion’s den for us and has come out victorious. Because Jesus was innocent, we too will escape the punishment we deserve. Let us live in confidence knowing death will not be our end and that we will emerge from the grip of death just like Daniel did.
REFLECTION: Knowing that death has been defeated, are you able to face your giants with confidence?
PRAYER: Jesus, Innocent One; you were sealed in the den of death in my place and emerged from the tomb triumphantly. I pray for faith like Daniel in the hope of the resurrection and the promise of eternal life with you. AMEN.
SONG: Confidence by Sanctus Real
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.