The rescue of Daniel from the ravenous lions demonstrated that Yahweh remained in firm control of history – Daniel 6:1-28.
After the overthrow of the Babylonian Empire, the new ruler of the province, “Darius the Mede,” appointed Daniel as his chief officer over the other civil servants that administered the region. This caused resentment among other officials, so a conspiracy was hatched to destroy the prophet, and trapped by his own words, Darius became ensnared in the very plot to destroy Daniel.
Through the intervention of an angel, Daniel was delivered unscathed from the attempt to kill him. Having survived all night in the lions’ den, the king ordered his release and the destruction of his accusers, then he issued a new edict that commanded all the citizens of Babylon to revere the wonder-working God of Daniel. As under the earlier Babylonian rule, Daniel prospered under the new regime, that of the “Medes and Persians.”
“Darius the Mede” appointed Daniel first among his three ministers of state. Certain provincial governors envied his elevation and sought to discredit him. Had he not been a faithful servant of the previous Neo-Babylonian régime? However, unable to find fault with his conduct, they arranged circumstances so that he would appear disloyal to Darius.
- (Daniel 6:1-3) – “It was pleasing before Darius that he should set up over the kingdom a hundred and twenty satraps, that they should be over all the kingdom; and over these, three confidential ministers of whom Daniel was first, that to them these satraps should render an account, and the king not be suffering loss. Then this Daniel signalized himself above the ministers and the satraps, because a distinguished spirit was in him, and the king thought to set him up over all the kingdom. Then the ministers and the satraps began seeking to find occasion against Daniel in respect of the kingdom, but no occasion nor wickedness could they find, inasmuch as, faithful was he and neither error nor wickedness could be found against him.”
A written edict was published prohibiting anyone from petitioning any other “god or man for thirty days,” except Darius. This was incorporated into the “law of the Medes and Persians” – Once written, a law could not be altered, not even by the king.
Nevertheless, Daniel continued to pray daily to Yahweh. His “seditious” conduct was reported to the king. Though aware of the new law, Daniel did not alter his daily routine. His accusers “found him making petition and supplication before his God” and reminded the king of the legal tradition that no law could be altered once written. Even a ruler as powerful as Darius was not above the “law of the Medes and Persians.”
The trap was set, and now, sprung. His enemies accused him of disloyalty to the king. This distressed Darius greatly since he valued Daniel’s services, therefore, he “determined to save Daniel.” However, he was only able to postpone the execution for a few hours, until sunset. Since the matter was out of his hands, he left it in the hands of the God of Daniel. Unlike Belshazzar, this king expressed respect for the God of the Jewish exiles and encouraged Daniel – (“Your God whom you serve will deliver you”).
Cast into the pit, it was sealed shut behind Daniel. The king passed the night in great anxiety, and early the next morning, he hastened to see if Daniel remained alive, and called out to him – “Is your God whom you serve able to deliver you from the lions?” Being very much alive, he answered the king. The angel had shut the mouths of the lions, so they could do him no harm. He was “blameless” before God and the king.
After removing Daniel from the pit, the king had his accusers cast in instead, where they died a horrific death – (“The lions broke all their bones in pieces before they came to the bottom of the den”). The ferocity of the attack demonstrated that Daniel was NOT spared because the beasts were not hungry. Their immediate dispatch demonstrated their ravenous hunger. Daniel’s life was saved by divine intervention; not by circumstances or any attempt by Darius to save him.
Next, Darius issued a decree to “all the peoples, nations, and tongues that dwell in all the earth” to publicize how the “God of Daniel” had reversed the irreversible decree of the king. The salutation of Darius is virtually identical to the earlier one published by Nebuchadnezzar – (Daniel 4:1 – “Nebuchadnezzar to all people, nations, and tongues that dwell in all the earth”).
Previously, Darius had decreed that no man could petition anyone but him. However, now he summoned “all peoples, nations, and tongues…to tremble and fear before the God of Daniel.” The plot to exploit the “law of the Medes and Persians” to destroy Daniel had caused the demise of the plotters.
The Aramaic word rendered “destroy” in verse 26is the same one translated “destroy” in verse 22 – (“The lions have not destroyed me”). The usage echoes the declarations about the coming “kingdom of God” made years earlier in the interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. The miraculous deliverance of Daniel from the pit demonstrated that the kingdom of God “shall not be destroyed,” regardless of the edicts and machinations of kings and evil men – (Daniel 2:44).
Daniel prospered under the reigns of “Darius the Mede” and “Cyrus the Persian.” The first half of the book closes with the inauguration of the next World-Power, the kingdom of the “Medes and the Persians.” Geopolitical developments continued to prove that Yahweh gave sovereignty to whomsoever He pleased.
This story is related to the events recorded in chapter 3. In both stories, the Jewish exiles had aroused jealousy among the ruling class. In both accounts, plots were hatched to destroy them. In chapter 3, Daniel’s three friends were thrown into a fiery furnace when they refused to venerate the king’s golden image. In chapter 6, Daniel was cast to the lions when he transgressed the royal edict.
In both stories, the exiles violated the king’s edict because of their higher allegiance to Yahweh, and in both, they were miraculously delivered from death. Both stories concluded with the king issuing decrees that honored the God of Israel and advanced the status of the Jewish exiles in the empire, and both incidents demonstrated that Yahweh was in full control of history, the rise and fall of empires, and the welfare of His people.
IN REVELATION. The written decree by Darius issued to all the peoples that “dwell on the earth” is echoed in the proclamation of the angel in chapter 14 of Revelation:
- “And I saw another angel flying in mid-heaven, having eternal good tidings to proclaim unto them that dwell on the earth, and unto every nation and tribe and tongue and people; and he saith with a great voice, Fear God, and give him glory; for the hour of his judgment is come” – (Revelation 14:6-7).
The destruction of the men who plotted against Daniel has influenced the portrait of the destruction of the “beast” and its followers in the “Lake of fire” in Revelation – (Revelation 14:6-11, 19:20,21:8).
Ironically, the men who plotted to condemn Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego to the fiery pit were cast into it and destroyed. Likewise, the men who conspired against Daniel were fed to the lions.
Likewise, in Revelation, the “Dragon” and his servants that “waged war” against the “saints” found themselves consigned forever to the “Lake of Fire.” In each case, the “inhabitants of the earth” from every nation were exhorted to take the lesson to heart by acknowledging the God of Daniel.