Saturday, October 26, 2013

Den Of Lions (part 15 of 16)

Upon opening the lion’s den and expectantly calling out into the darkness, the very first words that Darius is said to have heard from Daniel were “O king, live forever!” (6:21b)  This was followed by Daniel’s report about the angel, the lion’s mouths, and a lack of harm to come to him.  To this Daniel added, by way of explanation, that he had not suffered the expected demise “because I was found to be innocent before him.  Nor have I done any harm to you, O king” (6:22b). 

With this, Daniel has confirmed the king’s Psalm-inspired inquiry, effectively answering the Psalmist’s pleading words in regards to the lions from the verse previously quoted, with more of the Psalmist’s words, which were “You have answered me” (22:21c).  As the Psalm continues to play out here in the Daniel story, when Daniel speaks to the king and says “live forever,” the Psalmist can almost be heard saying “Let those who seek His help praise the Lord!  May You live forever!” (22:26b).  When Daniel speaks of not having done any harm to the king, the Psalmist can be heard declaring: “You loyal followers of the Lord, praise Him!” (22:23a).        

Following Daniel’s Psalm-ic declaration, the king is obviously and demonstrably thrilled.  The author reports that “the king was delighted and gave an order to haul Daniel up from the den.  So Daniel was hauled up out of the den.  He had no injury of any kind, because he had trusted in his God” (6:23).  Here one remembers that one of the first similarities that could be observed between the stories of Daniel and Jesus was that Darius had intended to appoint Daniel over his entire kingdom.  This, of course, was also the Creator God’s intention for His messiah, who was to be appointed over the kingdom of heaven on earth. 

So Darius, in essence, gets to play multiple roles, which assists in explaining why it is that he does not disappear from the tale of Daniel’s suffering to vindication in the way that Pilate disappears from the story of Jesus’ suffering to vindication.  Because of the desire to bequeath dominion over a kingdom, Darius, in the context of the analogy and in the telling of Daniel’s being pulled from what was to be his tomb, is here positioned in the role that would be taken up by the Creator, covenant God of Israel in relation to His messiah. 

What is here said in the story of Daniel, not surprisingly, is also to be said of the story of Jesus.  Darius was delighted and he gave an order for Daniel to be hauled up out of the pit of death into which he had been sent.  This is what the God of Israel would also do for Jesus, who is said to be the Son in whom He delighted.  Not only did Darius give the order, but Darius also had the power to execute the order, thus Daniel was taken out of the den.  Naturally, the Creator of the cosmos had the power to pull Jesus up out of death and the grave as well, and so He was. 

It is written that Daniel had no injury of any kind, and this because the lions’ mouths had been closed.  Jesus, of course, had been subjected to a terrifyingly painful and shameful ordeal, in which He suffered torment and grave injuries that ultimately resulted in death.  However, when He came forth from the grave, apart from the marks of the nails in His hands and feet (preserved for some reason), it appeared as if He had been subject to no injuries.  Why was this?  Had the lion’s mouths been closed?  Well, if one was to think of His accusers and opponents as the lions, then they were most certainly not closed.  However, if one consider those men to have been little more than the physical manifestations and pawns of the lion of man’s ultimate enemy, that being death, then yes, the lion’s mouth had been closed. 

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