We find such a beautiful reflection of the law and of faith in Daniel 6.
When he got there, he called out in anguish, “Daniel, servant of the living God! Was your God, whom you serve so faithfully, able to rescue you from the lions?” Daniel answered, “Long live the king! My God sent his angel to shut the lions’ mouths so that they would not hurt me, for I have been found innocent in his sight. And I have not wronged you, Your Majesty.” The king was overjoyed and ordered that Daniel be lifted from the den. Not a scratch was found on him, for he had trusted in his God.
These men who were jealous of Daniel, they sought to trick and trap Daniel, a child of God. Daniel, who was targeted by these servants of the enemy of God through the law. They went to the king asking for a law under which they might rule the “goats and dogs” of the land – those who are rebellious and sin addicted and thirsty for the ways of the flesh – and they made a case, they plead to be placed under a curse of law so they might rule and manage the masses who had no heart for Godly ways. If the masses had a heart for God, there would be no need for the law – but we all know the hearts of men.
And the king heard their case and provided for what they requested and provided as was needed. And the evil enemies must have rejoiced in that moment of foolishness, thinking that they had set the trap, imagining the kill that was about to happen, thirsty for the blood of their brother Daniel who they hoped to slay in jealousy just like in the story of Cain.
But they didn’t understand God’s ways. They knew their own restrictions to the normal and natural operation of the world, and they didn’t even recognize the possibility that Daniel’s God is real, and is creator of the heavens and the earth, and that He is miraculous and wonderful and is not bound by the normal operation of His creation.
You, see, my God is powerful. He is the kind of powerful that had Daniel not praying in the shadows or hiding his faith, even when he knew that he could face death under the law. Daniel knew this. Daniel recognized that the authority comes from God, to the king’s of nations arggh are flesh and blood, and then to the enforcement of the law, which is a rod and staff of authority meant for ruling over the masses.
You see, Daniel knew who he served. And he knew that God is faithful. So Daniel remained faithful. David had no fear of these men or these enemies of God. What could they do to him that compared to the glory of God? Wouldn’t his God save Him if it was His divine will to do so, or allow Daniel’s life to be at an end so that he would in the very presence of God of that was His will?
So Daniel had every reason to be bold and faithful and focused on loving and serving God instead of worrying about the laws of men. But don’t we also know that Daniel lived a life seeking God’s will and honoring God by being a great example to others? Daniel was not a law breaker at heart. How could he be if he is a man of God? You see, the law is a dim reflection of what was to come. The commandments in their perfection and in their covenant when placed in the hands of evil men will get twisted and perverted into a curse so they can accuse and compare each other – instead of being used to convict one of their own being/self that falls so short of perfection so that we might understand our own need for God to work His miraculous works to change us on the inside.
But these foolish men, these enemies of God, these accusers of the brethren – they were blind. They were veiled. They didn’t know God at all. But they were about to see evidence of His power, and they were about to know judgement for their opposition and resistance and their evil ways.
You see, the law called for a punishment. The law called for a price to be paid. And they were foolish enough to think that the price was going to be Daniel’s life. They were foolish enough to expect the lions to be fed. They were foolish enough to lust after terror and destruction and murder and death and bloodshed. But they didn’t pay attention to the details of the agreement, did they?
Yes, the lions were fed. Yes, there was the bloodshed and terror that they hoped for. But it sure didn’t come to them in the way that they hoped for. The evil that they wished poured out onto others was served up to them in a double, even a triple portion, as their wives and children were not spared from destruction because of their evil ways.
And the love and faithful witness of Daniel was proven true. More importantly, the Lord was glorified and given honor through this so that others would know that He is Almighty God.
There is a payment due for your life friend. There is a payment due for mine. Because we have broken the law, friends. Can’t you see those areas of your life that aren’t quite right? Aren’t you aware of those secrets that are hidden in your past that were not right and just and fair and true? Aren’t there things that even if you are trying to live right that you know fall short of giving God glory and that fall short of meeting the full requirements of the law?
Yes, this is why I need grace. Because my actions, even my words, even my thoughts have written spiritual checks that my spiritual bank account just isn’t going to cover without me being fed to the lions. And I deserve to be fed to the lions, because I know the law and I’ve still found myself falling short of meeting is requirements. But I don’t presume to know better than the king. I don’t pridefully say, “Your law isn’t fair! I can’t live up to your law! I face certain death!” No, I accept the law as true. I know inside that I am convicted.
And only when that is my perspective do I understand surrender. Only then do I recognize my need for grace. Only then do I admit that I can’t close the mouths of these lions on my own. Only then will I grasp hold of the mercy that is extended to me.
And yes, it is a free gift to those of us who are called and are His. You see, we all deserve a trip to see the lions. We are all condemned. It isn’t that lie that you told yesterday that earned you your ticket to the lion’s den, my friend. It is your very heart, it is the curse of the law, it is our inability to pay the price when we are in opposition to God and when we refuse Him.
Each of us deserve to be torn apart by the lions, but some of us understand that and some refuse to admit it. As they say in many programs, the first step to recovery is admitting that you have a problem, friend.
You have a problem, friend. And so do I. And it is called sin. We have broken God’s law. We are living lives contrary to the laws of God and contrary to the laws of nature in one way or another. If you can’t admit this truth, then maybe you are meant to be a judge and an accuser of others instead of a convicted child of God. But I hope you are ready for the lions, friend, because they are hungry and ready to eat.
And those who serve evil, those who play the great harlots of Babylon, those lions are not you friends. You have not tamed the lions. You are not in control of your sin just because you have followed it willingly and enjoyed it’s company and not yet felt is sharp teeth clamping down around your neck. Those lions haven’t lured you into their den to make you their ruler, you are their snack. Walking into the den on your own offers you no more protection than being tossed in by force.
So once we admit that we are destined for the lions den quite soon enough, we have to ask ourselves, what can I do?
We can acknowledge the law and that we are guilty, we can acknowledge that we are unable to pay the price, and we can look to God for help. That is the gospel, friends. Daniel wasn’t saved by his impeccable example of a caring heart demonstrated before other men any more than he was condemned to hell by a single event that evidenced his sinful nature. The mouths of the lions were closed and he was saved by his faithfulness – not by a single prayer, not by a single sprinkling or emersion in water, but by a life of Faith, proven faithful when tested, while still lived within an imperfect life.
We are not perfect, but grace doesn’t give us a ticket to live like Hell, because that is not faithfulness, that is not belief.
Nor does our seeking to live a faithful life and resist sin give us the authority to cast others into the pit either – picking and choosing our own grading scale of how viciously or gently the lions will go about eating their dinner based on our own foolish perception of the law – because that means we don’t understand that we all are condemned to the lion’s den, and that only the Lord gets to decide whether or not the lions are getting fed.
Do we understand that there is a Lamb offered to the lions in our place? Do we understand that He was torn apart at the cross for our sin? Do we know the blood that is she’d for us?
How could we know this and not be touched? How can we know this and not be moved?
Do you know that the lions are being fed for you? Do you know that you and I were meant to be their meal, friend?
We have so much to be thankful for.
Let’s be faithful. Let’s be steady. Let’s know and accept that we need Him.
NOTE: Corrections made concerning “a man after God’s own heart” that was said about David, not Daniel.