The Bible tells us of a king called Darius who appointed 120 satraps (governors) to rule throughout his kingdom, with three administrators over them. One of the three administrators was a famous Bible character, Daniel. Daniel was originally from Judah but he had been taken captive and transported to Babylon when Nebuchadnezzar was king. Daniel had outlived both Nebuchadnezzar and his son Belshazzar, and it was now the turn of Darius to witness Daniel’s genius. Daniel was so good at his job that he put the other administrators and satraps to shame, and Darius planned to put him in charge of the whole kingdom. This, of course, made the others jealous and they conspired together to rid themselves of Daniel. We’re told in the Bible, “the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent. Finally these men said, “We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God.” (1)
The solution to their problem? They tricked Darius, playing on his arrogance. They convinced him that for thirty days no one should worship any god or man except Darius. Whoever did was to be executed by being thrown into a lion’s den. They did it knowing that Daniel was faithful to his God and would never do what was asked of him. As expected Daniel continued praying to God, and he did it openly by kneeling in front of a window that faced toward Jerusalem, where he could be clearly seen. As soon as he was seen the satraps and administrators rushed to Darius who realised he had been manipulated. Sadly, there was nothing he could do about it. He had made a decree, a law, and they had this thing that the laws of the Medes and Persians can never be repealed. He had to execute Daniel and so he had him thrown into the lion’s den. A stone was rolled over the entrance to the den, and it was sealed with Darius’s signet ring. If anyone dared to move the stone, you can be sure they would be joining Daniel in the den. There was obviously no hope for Daniel, but the next day he was still alive. God had sent his angel to shut the lions mouths.
There are some startling parallels to the life of Jesus in this story. Daniel was exceptional at what he did, and so was Jesus. There’s a passage in the Old Testament that speaks of him as God’s servant. It says, “Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight.” (2) Whatever Jesus did it was the very best that could be done, he could never be faulted. There was no corruption in Daniel, neither was there in Jesus. The Bible says, “He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.” (3) The world has never known a more honest, open and transparent person than Jesus. As Daniel kept his focus on Jerusalem despite the threat of death, so did Jesus. There was a time when he walked to Jerusalem with his disciples, not walking behind them or by the side of them, but walking ahead, keen to get to the end of his journey. He spoke to them on the way and said, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise.” (4) Jesus was going to die for us and nothing was going to stop him.
A stone was rolled in front of the lion’s den to stop people freeing Daniel, and the stone was sealed with Darius’ signet ring. The tomb of Jesus had a stone rolled in front of it, and this stone was sealed with Caesar’s seal. The next morning Darius rushed to the lion’s den and was thrilled to find Daniel alive. Women rushed to Jesus’ tomb three days after his death so they could anoint his body, although they had no idea what they would do about the stone. As it was, the stone had been rolled away and they were able to see the body of Jesus, except his body wasn’t there. He had told his disciples that he would rise after three days and that’s what happened. Mary Magdalene soon saw him and her joy would have far exceeded that of Darius. Jesus died for us, and he rose for us. He is alive today. He is the Saviour we need to deal with our sin. If we come to him in faith and believe that he died for our sins we are saved from the consequence of sin, which is eternal death. The only life saved when Daniel entered the lions den was his own. When Jesus went into the tomb where he was raised from the dead, he saved eternally the life of everyone who has believed in him.
- Daniel 6:4,5
- Isaiah 42:1
- Isaiah 53:9
- Mark 10:33,34