September 11, 2020 

Daniel 6:8-9, 16-17

16 So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions’ den. The king said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!” 17 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. 

18 Then the king returned to his palace and spent the night without eating and without any entertainment being brought to him. And he could not sleep. 19 At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den. 20 When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?” 

21 Daniel answered, “O king, live forever! 22 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, O king.” 23 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. 

There is something very conflicting about the story of Daniel in the lion’s den. The moral of the story, if that is how we are to see it, is if we trust God then nothing bad will happen to you. But we know from reading the gospels and from understanding the writings of the Apostle Paul that bad things still happen to people who believe in God, to people with real faith. 

Jesus said in John 15:18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. 

So how do we interpret the story of Daniel? Is the story about Daniel or is the story about someone else? I have concluded that this is a story about 2 people. Darius the king represents the unbelieving world, they are hostile towards us, but watching everything we do.  Daniel represents Jesus who was also placed into a den, he also had a stone rolled across the entrance, he also has a seal placed on the entrance, he also was left for dead. 

So, what do we learn about Darius? First of all, he has been affected by the faith of Daniel. Jesus said we have been called to be salt to the world. We can make a difference.

When Jesus says, “You are the salt of the earth,” that is very suggestive. You see Jesus as salt. You see him touching, embracing, engaging the marginal, outsider, the foreigner, the leper. Jesus is salt. 

The purpose of salt in the ancient times was preservative. Today we use salt, of course, to flavor, but that’s not mainly the way they used salt. It was almost too valuable for that. You put salt in things that go bad. You put salt in things that fall apart so they don’t fall apart. 

What that means is Christians are to be salt. It means we go places that would fall apart or places that would decay or go to disorder without us. Daniel was salt in the Kingdom of Babylon and now he is salt in the Medo-Persian empire. 

Daniel is making a difference. Darius is beside himself all night. He is caught up in a political turmoil, but he is hoping that what Daniel believes about God is indeed true. He is hoping God is all powerful, he is hoping God saves. 

God has brought the King to need the salvation of God. Darius wants it to be true, he doesn’t yet believe, but he wants to believe. This is the hope of the gospel. That when we come to the end of our own personal power, when we realize we are helpless and in need of a savior, we fall into anguish and cry out… not for Daniel… but for Jesus.

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