Sermon March 27, 2016 Daniel 6 (Part Two) “Up from the Lion’s Den He Arose!”

Daniel Chapter Six (Part Two)             Daniel Sermon #8                               March 27, 2016

Sermon Series: “The Lord is King”               Resurrection Sunday

Today’s Sermon:  “Up from the Lion’s Den He Arose!”

Pastor Louis Prontnicki             Maple Glen Bible Fellowship Church

Intro: If you could go back in time and be with Jesus Christ for just one day, while he walked on this earth as a man, which day would you chose? The day of his birth? When he delivered the Sermon on the Mount? How about when he raised Lazarus from the dead?  Well, I’ll tell you the day I would pick – I’d chose the day of His resurrection. Do you know why? Because I would have loved to sit in on the two main Bible studies that Jesus led that day.

We read in Luke 24 that Jesus opened the Scriptures with his disciples and from the (Old Testament) Scriptures, he showed them how everything written in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms was written about Him, and how He had fulfilled all those Scriptures! Imagine having Jesus Christ walk you through Genesis through Malachi, and explaining to you how every part of the Bible pointed to Him!

What do you think Jesus would say in His Bible study when he got to Daniel chapter six, the record of how the Lord rescued Daniel from the lion’s den? Here’s what I think…

First, Let’s Recall the Story of Daniel’s Deliverance from the Lion’s Den

Daniel, after faultlessly and faithfully serving in civil government for over 60 years is suddenly sentenced to death and thrown into a den of hungry lions. Why? Not because he had done anything wrong, but because others were both jealous of his success and resentful that integrity would hamper their opportunity for getting rich through bribes and corruption. So Daniel’s jealous enemies had manipulated the king to get him to issue an order that went against Daniel’s Biblical convictions, namely praying to God, three times a day.  Daniel’s enemies figured that this would be the end of Daniel, and with him out of the way, they would be free to steal from the empire and collect bribes to make them rich. So Daniel was thrown into a den of lions, while the king spent a restless night worrying.

But at dawn the next day, as the king anxiously approaches the lion’s den, he is amazed, because he sees that Daniel is still alive! Daniel tells the king in v. 22, “My God send his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in His sight.”    The king is overjoyed! He commands that Daniel be lifted out of the underground chamber, and not a scratch was found on him, despite spending the night with hungry lions! This was a sign of God’s dramatic and complete deliverance.

And then, in a fitting turn of justice, the king commanded that those men who had falsely accused Daniel were themselves to be thrown into the lion’s den, along with their families. But this time, no angel protected them. Rather, the lions overpowered them all, and these animals crushed all the bones of their prey.  And after that display of God’s power, King Darius issues a decree, proclaiming to everyone in his far-reaching empire, that the God of Daniel is to be feared, “For He is the living God, and He endures forever…. He rescues and he saves, and he performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth.” (vv. 26-27)

Second, let’s imagine how Jesus might have interpreted the way in which Daniel’s Deliverance Pointed to and Foreshadowed His own Resurrection

First, let’s think about the similarities between these two events. What was similar?

Both Daniel and Jesus faithful and trustworthy, and both were innocent and above reproach.

Daniel had served faithfully in the government for 60 years, and even his enemies could find no corruption in him. In a greater way, Jesus Christ was the only perfect man, who faithfully did His Father’s will, and even his enemies could find nothing that he had ever done wrong.

Both Daniel and Jesus were plotted against, by those who were jealous of them, and both were sentenced to death by rulers who were not convinced of their guilt. It was Daniel’s fellow administrators who sought to use one of Daniel’s Biblical conviction against him, and it was the Jewish religious leaders who sought to use Jesus’ truths about who He was (God’s Son) against him. And as King Darius agonized with the decision to execute Daniel, so too Pontus Pilate wrestled with condemning Jesus, as his wife had dreams of Jesus being innocent, dreams which caused her to suffer a great deal (Mt. 27:19).

Both Daniel and Jesus were placed in places that were humanly impossible to escape from. Daniel was thrown into an underground den of hungry lions who normally would have torn his body to pieces before it hit the ground, and if that weren’t enough, a stone was rolled over the mouth of the cave, and then sealed with the signet ring of the king and of the nobles, so that it was impossible for anyone to aid in Daniel’s possible escape. Jesus suffered an agonizing and certain death on a Roman cross, and then his dead body was laid in a tomb, a cave, and not only was a large stone rolled across the mouth of the tomb, but out of fear that Jesus’ disciples might try to steal the body, Pilate gave into the Jews’ demand that a seal be put on the stone and that a Roman guard (16 men, ready to die) be placed to guard the tomb.

Yet for both Daniel and for Jesus, the impossible happened! Both men were raised alive out of these certain places of death! The next morning, Daniel was lifted up out of the lion’s den, alive, and Jesus, on the morning of the third day, was raised to life out of the tomb! Note that both men had very early morning visitors: Darius approaches the lion’s den at the first light of dawn, while a few of the women who were Jesus’ followers came to Jesus’ tomb at dawn as well. And what Darius and the women saw and heard amazed them: Daniel was alive, after spending the night with a den full of hungry lions, and Jesus was alive, after having been crucified and buried!

Why these two “resurrection” miracles?  The Scriptures tell us that both Daniel and Jesus were not only innocent; they both trusted in God, and He delivered them. Their righteousness was vindicated by God’s mighty interventions; that is, their “resurrections” proved their righteousness in God’s eyes. God the Father raised Jesus from the dead, because the Judge of all the earth could find no guilt in Him.

Furthermore, both were exalted by God. God exalted both Daniel and Jesus after raising them from the dead. Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and Cyrus (v. 28), while Jesus was given the name above every name, exalted above everyone else (Phil. 2:9-11). And God dealt strongly with their enemies: Those who had plotted against Daniel were thrown into the lion’s den, and their bones were crushed before their bodies even hit the ground. As for Jesus’ enemies, not only was Jerusalem totally destroyed within a generation; all those who hated Jesus would be cast forever into the fiery furnace of hell.  And as Darius proclaimed the triumph and glory of Daniel’s God, throughout his vast empire (vv. 26-27), so too God the Father is declaring Jesus’ glory and victory to all peoples and nations… even through us today.

In summary, we can see clearly that Daniel’s deliverance was a foreshadowing of Jesus’ resurrection!

But Jesus would have pointed out some significant differences between these two events.

When Daniel came out of the lion’s den, there was no mark or wound on him; not even a scratch, and this was to demonstrate God’s complete and total deliverance of His servant. Yet when Jesus was raised from the dead, He chose to keep the marks of His crucifixion on His hands, his side and his feet, even as he showed them to a doubtful Thomas. Jesus chose to keep these marks of his eternal love for us, even on his perfected body!  Indeed, our names are graven on His hands (Isaiah 49:16). Imagine Jesus showing his disciples his hands, as he opened the scriptures?

There are other differences.  Jesus not only suffered the threat of death; he actually tasted death Himself. Jesus was abandoned by His friends and even by His dearest Father, being left in utter darkness, misery, and pain. He suffered the fate that we, the guilty and rebellious ones, deserved.

Third, in His Bible study on that resurrection day, what might Jesus say about the impact of Daniel’s deliverance/ Jesus’ resurrection? Here we see another difference:

Consider this: when Daniel came out of the lion’s den, he came out alone. His deliverance was for him alone. No one else was saved by God’s deliverance of Daniel.

But Jesus’ deliverance was for all His loved ones. You see, when Jesus came out of the tomb, He emerged as the head of a great company of people, those who have been redeemed from the pit of hell, through His sacrificial and substitutionary death on the cross.

When Jesus burst from the tomb on that glorious Resurrection Day, He bestowed the God’s acquittal and righteous standing, upon all those who would be united to Him by faith! We are raised to life through our union with Christ! Therefore, whoever believes in Jesus as Savior and Lord receives the same verdict from heaven that He did, for His righteousness is counted as theirs.

My friends, if we could have listened in to those Bible Studies which Jesus led, on that Resurrection Day, these are the lessons we might have learned.

We also would have understood that unlike Daniel and Jesus, each of us is guilty and sinful, and deserving of God’s wrath and condemnation. We deserve to be eaten by lions. We deserved to be crucified on a wooden cross. But because Jesus died in our place, God has put our guilt and punishment on His Son. In His mercy and grace, Jesus was crucified in our place, and we are raised with Him! In His beloved Son, He has made us more than conquerors (Romans 8:28-39), and He has called us to be His children, his servants, and his ambassadors. This is the glorious message of Christ’s resurrection!

Application:

So let’s go back to the urgent question that King Darius had about Daniel in v. 20 “Has your God been able to rescue you from the lions?”

And this may be the question that you are asking the Lord today: “God, can you rescue me from my sins and addictions? Lord, my life is a mess. I am hopelessly addicted to… drugs, pornography, being unfaithful… or to my fears, my angry, my self-centeredness. I need to be delivered from my idol of what others think of me, or my need to be in control, or to be secure or to be comfortable, etc. I am caught in a quicksand of sin, shame, and guilt, with no escape. Can You rescue me? Can God rescue me from my addictions, from the grip of sin on my soul? Can God raise the dead?”

The clear and certain answer is found in what King Darius said in Daniel 6:27 “He rescues and saves; He performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth.  He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.”

Therefore Daniel’s deliverance was not only a foreshadowing of Christ’s resurrection; it was also a foretaste of our rescue from ourselves, our sins, our guilt, and Satan’s grip on us!

Hallelujah! Daniel was lifted alive out of the Lion’s den! Jesus Christ is risen from the dead! And in Christ, we too are raised to newness of eternal life, and we are given His resurrection power, to work within us!

Therefore, let us trust Him and lean wholly on Him!

Up from the lion’s den He arose!