Thursday, October 24, 2013

Den Of Lions (part 13)

Just as a stone had been placed and sealed over what was to be Daniel’s tomb, so too was a stone placed and sealed over the tomb of Jesus.  If Daniel had indeed spoken the twenty-second Psalm in the ears of all who were there to hear him, which is a reasonable proposition to believe, then Daniel spoke of something akin to a resurrection---and Daniel did is said to have indeed come out of that which had been intended to be his tomb, unscathed by the lions. 

Jesus’ reference to the same Psalm, coupled with His own talk of rising again, together with His references to Daniel and the “Son of Man” tradition that it contained, can be presumed to have caused a bit of worry.  The main difference, however, was that nobody was able to witness the events inside the lion’s den, whereas all and sundry were able to be witnesses of Jesus’ horrific death.  Therefore, in the minds of the bringers of death, the only way that Jesus could be said to have risen again was for His disciples to come and steal His body, and simply lie about why the body had gone missing and why the tomb was now empty.  This is what precipitated the sealing of the tomb.  In the case of Darius and Daniel and the sealing of that tomb, it was likely to have been sealed at the insistence of the nobles, so that Darius himself, since he had been quite desperate to spare Daniel, would not come and attempt to retrieve Daniel from the den.

Is there really a good reason to believe that Psalm 22 was spoken by Daniel?  The Gospels report that Jesus spoke the words of the Psalm, but could one presume that Daniel did the same?  Is there any evidence that such a thing took place?  To that end, it is to be noted that, following from his suffering and his vindication and his declaration of praises, the Psalmist goes on to say “Let all the people of the earth acknowledge the Lord and turn to Him!  Let all the nations worship You!  For the Lord is king and rules over the nations.  All of the thriving people of the earth will join the celebration and worship; all those who are descending into the grave will bow before Him, including those who cannot preserve their lives.  A whole generation will serve Him; they will tell the next generation about the sovereign Lord.  They will come and tell about His saving deeds; they will tell a future generation what He has accomplished” (22:27-31).  These words follow talk of help, deliverance, and rescue. 

Turning back to Daniel then, and skipping over the events that are reported (though there shall be a return to them), it is reported that “King Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations, and language groups who were living in all the land: ‘Peace and prosperity!  I have issued an edict that throughout all the dominion of my kingdom people are to revere and fear the God of Daniel.  “For He is the living God; He endures forever.  His kingdom will not be destroyed; His authority is forever.  He rescues and delivers and performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth.  He has rescued Daniel from the power of lions!”’” (6:25-27)  Here, the words of the Psalmist and of Darius are astonishingly similar.           

For all practical purposes, when Daniel was placed in the den of lions, death was his lot.  There was to be no escape.  In reality, there could be no escape.  His fate was to be the same as that of Jesus---and that fate was death.  Though Daniel did not succumb to the limits of mortality, as did Jesus, and though a hopefulness for deliverance was expressed by Darius, it is appropriate to suggest that Daniel, when sealed into the lion’s den, had been overtaken by death.  One can be assured that his opponents celebrated a great victory, confident that they had done away with one that had been oh so troubling to their plans for power and authority.  Certainly, Jesus’ opponents celebrated in a similar fashion and for similar reasons. 

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