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Sermon #2105 Miscellaneous Sermons
Title: Darius, Daniel, and
the Lions’ Den
Text: Daniel 6:1-28
Subject: The Necessity of the Atonement
Date: Sunday Morning — September 8, 2013
Reading: Daniel 6:1-28
The title of my message is Darius, Daniel, and the Lions’ Den, or The Necessity of the Atonement. My text will be the 6th chapter of the Book of Daniel.
Daniel was one of the Jews carried into Babylonian captivity by Nebuchadnezzar. He had been given unique gifts by the Spirit of God, gifts only God could give a man. By those gifts, Daniel was distinguished from other men and distinctly honored as the prophet of the most high God.
He had told Nebuchadnezzar his dream and its’ interpretation (Daniel 2); and he had interpreted the hand writing on the wall for King Belshazzar (Daniel 5). Belshazzar commanded that Daniel be clothed with scarlet, a gold chain was put on his neck, and he was made the third ruler in the kingdom (Daniel 5:25-29).
“And this is the writing that was written, MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN. 26 This is the interpretation of the thing: MENE; God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it. 27 TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting. 28 PERES; Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians. 29 Then commanded Belshazzar, and they clothed Daniel with scarlet, and put a chain of gold about his neck, and made a proclamation concerning him, that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom.” (Daniel 5:25-29)
That night Belshazzar was slain and Darius became the king (Daniel 5:30-31).
Darius set one hundred and twenty princes over the kingdom. He established three presidents over those princes; and Daniel was made the Chief President. All the other princes had to report to Daniel. The Median king, Darius, so greatly respected and admired Daniel, “because an excellent spirit was in him,” that he planned to set him over the whole realm (Daniel 6:1-3).
“It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom an hundred and twenty princes, which should be over the whole kingdom; 2 And over these three presidents; of whom Daniel was first: that the princes might give accounts unto them, and the king should have no damage. 3 Then this Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king thought to set him over the whole realm.” (Daniel 6:1-3)
The other presidents and princes were jealous. They were green with envy. Their jealousy caused them to despise Daniel, though he had done nothing to harm them. They hated him because they envied him. Their hatred of God’s servant caused them to seek some way to discredit him, some way to make him look bad to the king. But they found no fault with this faithful man.
They finally decided that the only area in which Daniel could be charged would be concerning his love for and faith in the true and living God (Daniel 6:4-9). Though Daniel was in a pagan society and surrounded by idolatrous people, he worshipped, prayed three times daily, and gave thanks before God (Daniel 6:10)
(Daniel 6:4-9) “Then the presidents and princes sought to find occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find none occasion nor fault; forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him. 5 Then said these men, We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God. 6 ¶ Then these presidents and princes assembled together to the king, and said thus unto him, King Darius, live for ever. 7 All the presidents of the kingdom, the governors, and the princes, the counsellors, and the captains, have consulted together to establish a royal statute, and to make a firm decree, that whosoever shall ask a petition of any God or man for thirty days, save of thee, O king, he shall be cast into the den of lions. 8 Now, O king, establish the decree, and sign the writing, that it be not changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not. 9 Wherefore king Darius signed the writing and the decree.” (Daniel 6:4-9)
Pretending to honor King Darius, these wicked men drew up a decree. They called it a royal statute. In the decree, it was required that for thirty days if anyone in the kingdom prayed or asked a petition from any god or man, other than King Darius, that person would be cast into the den of lions.
They knew that this would be a sure trap for Daniel, because they knew him well enough to know that he would not go even a day without prayer. Darius, flattered and fooled by those men, signed the degree “that it could not be changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not” (v. 8).
In verses 10-17, we see that Daniel did exactly as his enemies expected. Daniel prayed and gave thanks to God, just as he did every day.
“Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime. 11 ¶ Then these men assembled, and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his God. 12 Then they came near, and spake before the king concerning the king’s decree; Hast thou not signed a decree, that every man that shall ask a petition of any God or man within thirty days, save of thee, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions? The king answered and said, The thing is true, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not. 13 Then answered they and said before the king, That Daniel, which is of the children of the captivity of Judah, regardeth not thee, O king, nor the decree that thou hast signed, but maketh his petition three times a day. 14 Then the king, when he heard these words, was sore displeased with himself, and set his heart on Daniel to deliver him: and he laboured till the going down of the sun to deliver him. 15 Then these men assembled unto the king, and said unto the king, Know, O king, that the law of the Medes and Persians is, That no decree nor statute which the king establisheth may be changed. 16 Then the king commanded, and they brought Daniel, and cast him into the den of lions. Now the king spake and said unto Daniel, Thy God whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee. 17 And a stone was brought, and laid upon the mouth of the den; and the king sealed it with his own signet, and with the signet of his lords; that the purpose might not be changed concerning Daniel.” (Daniel 6:10-17)
The princes of Babylon reported Daniel to the king and reminded the king of his decree. Darius knew he had been fooled; and he was displeased with himself; but he was trapped by the very law he had made. He was honor bound to abide by the law, no matter the cost. Because he admired Daniel he labored till the going down of the sun to deliver him (v. 14); but there was nothing he could do.
The king commanded Daniel to be cast into the den of lions and said unto him, “Thy God, whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee.”
(Daniel 6:18-28) “Then the king went to his palace, and passed the night fasting: neither were instruments of musick brought before him: and his sleep went from him. 19 Then the king arose very early in the morning, and went in haste unto the den of lions. 20 And when he came to the den, he cried with a lamentable voice unto Daniel: and the king spake and said to Daniel, O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions? 21 Then said Daniel unto the king, O king, live for ever. 22 My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt. —— 23 Then was the king exceeding glad for him, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no manner of hurt was found upon him, because he believed in his God. 24 And the king commanded, and they brought those men which had accused Daniel, and they cast them into the den of lions, them, their children, and their wives; and the lions had the mastery of them, and brake all their bones in pieces or ever they came at the bottom of the den. —— 25 ¶ Then king Darius wrote unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied unto you. 26 I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he is the living God, and stedfast for ever, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be even unto the end. 27 He delivereth and rescueth, and he worketh signs and wonders in heaven and in earth, who hath delivered Daniel from the power of the lions. 28 So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian.” (Daniel 6:18-28)
The Lord did indeed deliver Daniel from the lions. Daniel told Darius, “My God hath sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me.” Then the king brought those men who had accused Daniel and put them in the den of lions.
This very familiar story is another of those beautiful Old Testament pictures of our blessed Savior and of our deliverance from the judgment and curse of the law of God, which we have broken. —— I have no doubt at all that the things here recorded were brought to pass by the hand of God to give us a very clear type and picture of our Lord Jesus Christ, showing us the necessity of atonement by our great Savior’s sacrifice upon the cursed tree. —— O Holy Spirit, give us eyes to see the Lord Jesus here and hearts to trust Him, rejoice in Him, and devote ourselves to Him who devoted Himself to us from everlasting.
Why couldn’t Darius deliver Daniel from the lions’ den? He greatly desired to do so. He loved Daniel; but Daniel had broken the king’s law. If he did not execute the sentence of the law upon Daniel, if he simply issued a pardon to the object of his love, King Darius would have had to disown his own degree, disgracing himself and promoting utter chaos throughout the realm. The law of the Medes and Persians would have become a mockery; and the king could no longer have been trusted or feared. That was Darius’ dilemma.
Darius’ dilemma shows us the necessity of our blessed Savior’s sin-atoning sacrifice as our Substitute. It portrays the necessity of atonement by the shedding of His precious blood.
Did you ever ask yourself, “Why did the Lord Jesus have to die at Calvary?” If He died to show us His great love for us, surely He could have done so without going to the cross? My wife and family know my love for them. Love can be shown and known in many ways. Some will say, “Christ died for us to save us from our sins.” That is certainly true. But why did the Lord Jesus have to die upon the cursed tree to save us from our sins? God the Holy Spirit tells us plainly. — The Lord God sacrificed His darling Son upon the cursed tree to declare “His righteousness: that He might be just, and the Justifier of him which believeth in Jesus” (Romans 3:26).
We are the rightful subjects of an absolute Monarch — “the living God,” the mighty Monarch of the universe. He has issued good laws for the regulation of our hearts and lives, laws with a just, but a dreadful penalty. — “The soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Ezekiel 18:20). We have broken God’s holy law in every point. Its penalty we have earned. —“The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). How can we be delivered? God cannot deny Himself. He cannot disgrace Himself. He cannot bring dishonor upon His holy law. He cannot and will not set aside His holy law. He will not violate His justice. Is there no hope for fallen, sinful, guilty sinners like you and me?
Yes, blessed be His holy name forever, Jehovah found a way to save His people from their sins. In great wisdom and grace, He declares concerning His chosen “Deliver him from going down to the pit: I have found a ransom” (Job 33:24). What Darius could not do for Daniel, God has done for His elect. He has devised a way in which His holy law is honored and its penalty completely executed, and He still is gracious to whom He will be gracious and has mercy on whom He will have mercy, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin! By the voluntary sufferings and death of His dear Son in our place, God’s broken law has been fully honored and satisfied, and every sinner who trusts the Lord Jesus is forgiven of all sin. He who is God our Savior is “a just God and a Savior” (Isaiah 45:21).
Let me show you four things from this story, four lessons about God’s salvation in this picture of redemption and grace by Christ Jesus, our Lord.
1. The law of God cannot be changed.
Like the law of the Medes and Persians, “it altereth not.” Unlike Darius’ law, which was a foolish one, God’s law is holy and just and good (Romans 7:12). It is a revelation of the holiness and righteousness of our God.
God’s law is spiritual and requires more than mere outward obedience. God’s law requires inward perfection as well as outward perfection (Romans 7:14; Matthew 5:21-28). There are no loopholes; and there can be no compromise. — “Cursed is everyone that continues not in all things written in the book of the law to do them!” (Galatians 3:10).
Romans 7:14 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.
Matthew 5:20-28 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. ——— 21 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: 22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. 23 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; 24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. 25 Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. 26 Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing. 27 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: 28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
2. We have broken God’s holy law.
The law of King Darius that Daniel violated was a wicked law and should have been disregarded by a true believer; but the law of the Lord is perfect. His commandments are pure. God’s law should be kept by all; and all would profit greatly by keeping it. — But we have not, do not, and cannot obey the law of God. Sin is the transgression of God’s law; and we are all transgressors, sinners and workers of iniquity (Romans 3:10-19; Psalm 14:1-3).
“As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: 11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. 12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. 13 Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: 14 Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: 15 Their feet are swift to shed blood: 16 Destruction and misery are in their ways: 17 And the way of peace have they not known: 18 There is no fear of God before their eyes. 19 ¶ Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.” (Romans 3:10-19)
“The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good. 2 The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. 3 They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” (Psalms 14:1-3)
Though we labor all our lives, till the going down of life’s sun, as Darius labored all night long to both save Daniel and maintain his law, though we labor all our lives to do it, we cannot establish righteousness for ourselves, we cannot to appease a holy God, we cannot escape the just condemnation of the law for our sins. God must and will carry out the sentence and judgment His holy law against our sins (Ezekiel 18:20).
“The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.” (Ezekiel 18:20)
3. Yet, God will deliver his elect.
Darius could not find a way to deliver Daniel from his law. But our God, He who is the living God, the Triune Jehovah, found a way to honor His law, to satisfy His justice, without compromising His holiness, a way whereby He could be just and the Justifier of sinners (Romans 3:19-26; Job 33:24). —— “Deliver him from going down to the pit: I have found a ransom!”
(Romans 3:19-26) “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. 20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. 21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; 22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: 23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; 26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” (Romans 3:19-26)
The Lord Jesus Christ, the God-man, (1 Timothy 3:16) came into this world, made of a woman, made under the law to redeem them who had broken the law. By His perfect obedience unto death, because He was made sin for us, all who trust the Son of God are made the righteousness of God in Him. By His death (1 Peter 3:18; Isaiah 53:4-6), when He took our sins, made them His very own, our great God and Savior fully paid all our debt.
“Jesus paid it all, all the debt we owe.
Sin has left a crimson stain, —
He washed it white as snow!”
God our Savior delivered us by going into “the den of lions” for us. —— Read verse 22.
“Then was the king exceeding glad for him, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no manner of hurt was found upon him, because he believed in his God.” (Daniel 6:23)
The Lord Jesus did not come to destroy His law but to fulfil it, not to find a way around justice but to meet it head on. Bearing our sins in His own body on the tree, He satisfied the law. He magnified the law and made it honorable. In Christ, the Lord our God calls sinners to Himself as “a just God and a Savior.”
4. That God who saves by mercy and by truth, by grace and by justice, that God who saves sinners honorably, he is the true and living God.
That is exactly what Darius wrote in his decree (Daniel 6:25-28).
“Then king Darius wrote unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied unto you. 26 I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he is the living God, and stedfast for ever, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be even unto the end. 27 He delivereth and rescueth, and he worketh signs and wonders in heaven and in earth, who hath delivered Daniel from the power of the lions. 28 So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian.” (Daniel 6:25-28)
That is the Gospel from the lions’ den, the Gospel of substitution and satisfaction. Christ, our Substitute made full satisfaction to the law and the justice of God on our behalf. He obtained eternal redemption for every sinner who trusts Him alone. — Trust the Son of God, and go home with God’s salvation today!