Deliverance from Death's Den
His Kingdom Come • Sermon • Submitted
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Welcome, everyone, to our current sermon series "His Kingdom Come," from the Old Testament prophetic book of Daniel. In our previous gatherings, we've been unpacking the theme that reoccurs in Daniel's narrative, which focuses on the collision of God's kingdom with our world. In the first five chapters, we discover how four young boys named Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, are exiled into a foreign nation called Babylon. Taken as prisoners, and then enrolled in the Babylon University and became Wisemen for King Nebuchadnezzar. During their stay, the boys must choose either to stand up for the Lord. Or be overcome by the social, cultural, and political of their time.
Last week, I spoke about this world's political uncertainty; it is easy to become frustrated and upset when life is not going our way. These occurrences happen to everyone, including King Belshazzar, who has witnessed a terrifying image such as human handwriting on the wall that spells his kingdom's end. Daniel interprets what God has written. In the end, Belshazzar idolatry and pride cuts short his kingdom reign. God's people can have Jesus is control of every circumstance, even the fall and rise of earthly kingdoms. Even amid political uncertainty, Jesus certainly rules from his heavenly throne. No matter where this world is heading, we are standing on an unshakable kingdom that endures forever.
Now looking ahead, we jump to Daniel chapter six in which the Babylonian kingdom has dismantled by the Persians. King Darius is the new king, and Daniel and his friends live under another foreign empire's authority. The Jewish exiles must navigate serving the kings of this world and the king of the universe.
And apparently, Daniel continued to serve well because Darius set him over over the whole kingdom. His charisma, talents, wisdom must have won the king over. Daniel was the best pick for the job. It's like when team captains select players to be part of their team. King Darius made his first choice, and Daniel would be the one who would help him so he would suffer no loss. Darius' selection didn't sit well with the other satraps and high officials.
Do you know what happens to jealous people who are still left on the sideline waiting to be picked? They become emotionally upset and bitter! Emotionally unstable jealously can turn any rational human being into a cold-blooded murderer. We see this from Daniel's story that his former peers now become his adversaries. In an attempt to discredit him, Daniel's peers seek out his weakness and faults. If you want to cut people down quickly that typically you attack where they are defenseless. So the men scheme up a gameplan to betray Daniel and ultimately to ruin his reputation.
Then the high officials and the satraps sought to find a ground for complaint against Daniel with regard to the kingdom, but they could find no ground for complaint or any fault, because he was faithful, and no error or fault was found in him. Then these men said, “We shall not find any ground for complaint against this Daniel unless we find it in connection with the law of his God.” (Daniel 6:4-5 ESV)
But Daniel, as the text tells us, is a good man. He is faultless, useful, and the only way they could take him down is through justly means.
The same happens to Jesus in the gospels. The Jewish leaders maliciously accuse Jesus of crimes that he never committed (blasphemer, glutton, dunkered) in the hope of tarnishing his name and discrediting his authority. But if you can't tear them because of their weakness or faults. You have to sell them out for another reason.
Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was of the number of the twelve. He went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers how he might betray him to them. And they were glad, and agreed to give him money. So he consented and sought an opportunity to betray him to them in the absence of a crowd. (Luke 22:3-6 ESV)
Judas, the satraps, and high officials made their move and betrayed their friends for the sake of gaining power and money. They went after them because of their faithfulness to God.
We should expect the same, even in our lifetime. Our peers will exploit us not because we have done wrong, but because of our obedience to live a faithful lifestyle to God.
Expect setbacks for your faithfulness. The church is living in a world where it's not like or welcomed. Nor should we always expect people to love us when we love God over an against the things of this age.
The setbacks were coming for Daniel and Jesus because their peers continued to plot against them. In Daniel's narrative, we see that satraps and high officials trick King Darius into signing an agreement and injunction that whoever makes a petition to any god or man for thirty days, except to the king, will be cast into the den of lions. The worse part about the situation was the law was unchangeable according to Medes and Persians' rules. So no matter what happened, the damage is done.
But what do people of faith do when they hit a setback? Well, they follow the example of Daniel.
When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously. (Daniel 6:10 ESV)
He confronted the news about going to God in prayer. Notice the manner on how Daniel prays. He reveals himself from his balcony and petitions his helper. Not secretly or out in the streets, but he lets the whole world see him. His enemies saw this unashamed prayer lifestyle, and this was enough to throw his into the lions' den. Not only did Daniel pray when he was about to hit a setback, but so did Jesus when facing trials.
Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again. Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Sleep and take your rest later on. See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.” (Matthew 26:36-46 ESV)
When you and I are pinned down and are struggling, the first response is to pray to the one who can help us in our dire situation. Pray in and through your trials. It's the only way. But we're not guaranteed that the Lord will remove suffering and pain. There are seasons in which we must go through trials so that we will grow closer to God. For Daniel and Jesus, they knew they had to be connected to the Lord to get through this crisis.
And the story continues, with King Darius having a conversation with the satraps and high officials, and they accused Daniel of breaking the agreement. Even though Darius signed it, he must follow through and send his beloved servant to the lions' den.
Similarly, both Daniel and Jesus were then condemned by the governing officials. But neither Darius nor Pontus Pilate wanted to sentence them to death. It was the other people who demanded their life to be taken from them. Darius did everything he could to save Daniel, but he knew the only way he would survive was through his God.
So in a state of connecting with God and knowing their faithfulness will cost them. Both Daniel and Jesus are thrown to die. One by lions and the other by a cross. Each had a rock that sealed their fate. Both were predicted to die, and the world continued while others were worried about Daniel and Jesus.
Then, at break of day, the king arose and went in haste to the den of lions. As he came near to the den where Daniel was, he cried out in a tone of anguish. The king declared to Daniel, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?” Then Daniel said to the king, “O king, live forever! My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths, and they have not harmed me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no harm.” Then the king was exceedingly glad, and commanded that Daniel be taken up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no kind of harm was found on him, because he had trusted in his God. (Daniel 6:19-23)
By the power of God, Daniel survived! He has lifted out the den of death and given new life. The great news is Jesus' story is even better.
But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” (Luke 24:1-7 ESV)
Jesus, too, was lifted. He arose from death and conquered it. God saved Christ, just as God saved Daniel from the lions' den. Which gives us hope every day. God saves his people from death. Which there are two sides to this coin in how it applies to our lives. One is either God will supernaturally save in this life or will in the life to come.
The rest of the story then tells us about Daniel's enemies' defeat and how Darius proclaims about God's eternal kingdom. Then Daniel not only survives that ordeal but prospers in the nation.
But the most significant point is, through faithfulness, God will deliver us from death's den. We should expect setbacks in life, but when they come, we pray, and ultimately God will deliver his people from eternal death, and we shall have the victory.