This is a message that is relevant for us all and a help to us in our Christian lives. This passage of scripture, Daniel in the Lion’s den, suffers from familiarity. We are going to see Daniel as an historic man, seeing the experience of his life. We will also see him as a fellow man, a fellow believer, like us, whom we can learn lessons from and help us to approach our life. Thirdly, we see Daniel as what theologians call a type of Christ. There is only one Christ but in the Old Testament we see pictures of Christ in well-known people, such as Joseph. We see Daniel as a type of Christ, as lone who did his people good and remained faithful in difficult situations.
1 Corinthians 11 tells us to, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1). Be imitators of Daniel, as he was of Christ, as he was in preparation for Christ. David lived and prepared for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 11). We see a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ in the Old Testament and see Him there in the life of Daniel as he faced the trials and pressures of his life.
“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” (2 Peter 3:18). Both Peter and Paul are saying, ‘Look, I want you people to change and become more like the Lord Jesus Christ.’ I want to show you Daniel as a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ, as an example of how we can live our lives in a hostile world.
We are shocked when trials come but we should not be surprised. Daniel was a man who knew real trials. The first thing I want to show you is Daniel and the Lord Jesus Christ were unique men (Daniel 6:3). Daniel had been in exile since his teenage years. Even as a teenager he stood out. Friends, our Lord Jesus Christ is a unique man. Daniel was different but he was tempted in all points, like we are, yet he stood against the crowd. The Lord Jesus Christ, even in his first sermon, taught with authority, and not as one of the Scribes or Pharisees. As Christians, we are to be different, we are to be unique, we are to stand out from the crowd.
Daniel, in verses 4 and 5, is described as faultless. “He was faithful and no error or fault was found in him.” We see what made Daniel unique. Although, now in his seventies, he has remained faithful to his God. He has remained a prayerful man, a faithful servant of Babylon, the Medes and Persians. Some Christians give the impression we should stand out against the government of our land. Daniel is a refugee, yet he remains faithful to his God and to his earthly rulers. (Hebrew 4). The same thing is true of our Lord Jesus Christ. He Himself said, as people accused Him, “What is it you accuse me of? Who can actually charge me with sin?
For us, this may seem a very high bar. How can we, who are born in sin and shameful iniquity, holy people, be faultless? We can’t. Sin dwells within us. But God says to each of us as Christians, “Be holy, even as I am holy.” I don’t believe that we, as evangelicals, preach this enough. We preach the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are saved entirely by the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, not works, lest any man should boast. It is the gift of God. Friends, I want to do nothing to undermine the fact that we are saved completely, utterly, and entirely by the work of the Lord Jesus Christ. But the same Lord Jesus Christ said to His disciples, “If you love me you will keep my commandments.” We are to be holy people.
Daniel was an opposed man. He was unique, he was faultless, but people didn’t like it. Daniel and the Lord Jesus Christ both had an effect on people that may seem strange. In the world we have different parties which are opposed to each other. In verses 6-7 we read, “O these administrators and satraps went as a group to the king and said: “May King Darius live forever! The royal administrators, prefects, satraps, advisers and governors have all agreed that the king should issue an edict and enforce the decree that anyone who prays to any god or human being during the next thirty days, except to you, Your Majesty, shall be thrown into the lions’ den.” (Daniel 6:6-7).
The people, because of the reality of human nature, were opposed to each other. When someone gains promotion, others want to cut them down (known as ‘Tall Poppy Syndrome in Australia). We find the same thing in the day of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Jewish leaders came together, with the authority of Rome, to cut down the Lord Jesus Christ. Daniel knew exactly the same thing. Have you ever known that experience in life? You are doing all you can to help people and even though you’re giving yourself to the Lord Jesus Christ, people want to cut you down.
David was an orderly man, “Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.” (Daniel 6:10). The law of the country had changed. It didn’t ruffle him one iota. Our Lord Jesus Christ was exactly the same. In Luke 4 we see He went to the synagogue, as was his custom. He had a pattern to His life because it would give Him time in God’s presence. David had a pattern to his life. Three times a day he turned to Jerusalem to pray. He was an exile. He was looking not simply to Jerusalem but to the God of Jerusalem. He had not forgotten the covenant promise of God.
Notice how David prayed. He got down on his knees. I’ve never placed a lot of emphasis on my position in prayer. But it is interesting to look at David, and also the apostles in Acts 9, the Lord Jesus Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane on His knees, humbled in the presence of God. I’m not going to tell you how to pray, but do you see the order, the discipline?
David was a humiliated man. Notice how Daniel is described, “Then they said to the king, “Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, Your Majesty, or to the decree you put in writing. He still prays three times a day.” (Daniel 6:13). What a disgrace. This man, like Joseph in Egypt, who had done so much for the Babylonians and the Medes, is described as ‘an exile,’ a refugee, an asylum seeker. This man was used of God
Jesus Himself was humiliated. There were times when Jesus could do no miracles in His own land. But friends, let me take you to Calvary, through the prophet Isaiah, “He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.” (Isaiah 53:3) The Lord Jesus Christ, the King of glory, the man who, on two occasions, had heaven opened up and the glory of heaven revealed as God spoke and said, ‘This is My Son.’ He was despised and rejected. Friends, it hurts when people turn round and say, ‘Holy Joe,’ ‘Do-Gooder.’ We will be humiliated if we follow the Lord Jesus Christ. People will look down their noses at us.
David was a buried man, in the hope that he would never rise again. “A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the rings of his nobles, so that Daniel’s situation might not be changed.” (Daniel 6:17). In reality, the lion’s den was the grave of the victims; no-one came out alive (Daniel 6:24). The Lord Jesus Christ, when He was buried, His opponents wanted an assignment of soldiers to guard the tomb. The authority of Rome was given to Jewish leaders and they sealed the tomb. David, like the Lord Jesus Christ, was buried in the hope they would never rise.
The king goes back to the tomb the following morning and he asks, ‘Are you ok?’ “Daniel answered, “May the king live forever! My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, Your Majesty.” (Daniel 6:21-22). God sent an angel to close the mouth of the lion. He didn’t take Daniel out of the den. Remember, in the Garden of Gethsemane an angel came and comforted Jesus. On Resurrection morning an angel came and tolled away the stone. Sadly, as Christians, we have no real sense of the spiritual world around us. Friends, we live in two worlds – the physical and the spiritual world. There are angels that God uses according to His purpose.
“The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.” (Daniel 6:23). Nothing had happened to Daniel. But I want to take you to the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. I want to take you to the Upper Room a week later. That week later, after Jesus had risen from the dead, He held out His hands and He said, ‘Behold My Hands. Behold My side.’ Daniel was buried but he rose unharmed. Jesus was buried and the only scars that will be seen in heaven are the scars that bore your sin and my sin.
David was an ascended man. The Lord Jesus ascended, “After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.” (Acts 1:9). Revelation tells us, “At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne.” (Revelation 4:2-3).
Friends, today we worship a crucified, risen, ascended, glorified Saviour. Why? Because He was despised and rejected, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Friends, do you know Him? Do you love Him? Is He your Saviour? Has He gone to the cross, the grave, in your place? Many of you have nodded, saying ‘Yes, you do know Him.’ Are you walking in His ways? Are you prepared to be different? Are you prepared to be holy? Are you prepared to let God give a new order to your life? Can you cope with the humiliation? Are you prepared to be buried in order that one day you will be raised and enjoy eternity with Him? We used to sing, ‘Dare to be a Daniel, dare to stand alone.’ Will you stand alone with your God?