Daniel and the Lion's Den: A Meditation and Retelling of Daniel 6
Today's podcast comes from Daniel 6. Introduction: I’ve known the story of Daniel and the lion’s den since I was a kid in Sunday School classes, but I never really considered before what Daniel was thinking at the time. As I wrote some of these retellings, it was obvious that the heroes were actually terrified and full of doubts, like Gideon. Samson wasn’t at all fearful, but he’d placed his confidence in himself, rather than in God. It was only very rare individuals that seemed to be completely confident in the Lord. David and Jonathan clearly had this mentality, because the things they said to those around them just before their exploits revealed their thoughts. With Daniel, it’s not quite so clear, until you put this event in chronological context with the rest of the book of Daniel. The first half of the book of Daniel is historical, telling events that transpired during Daniel’s lifetime as the kingdom changed rulership. The second half, from chapter 7 through 12, is prophetic, in which Daniel is treated to a series of profound visions which encompass the “silent” years of the Old Testament through the coming of Christ, and then apocalyptic visions that harmonize with John’s account in Revelation. We’re told in Daniel 5:31 and 6:1 that this episode of the lion’s den occurred during the reign of King Darius, and historians say he only reigned for two years. We also know from Daniel 9:2 that Darius was king during the time that Daniel received his famous seventy weeks prophecy, so these two events must have occurred relatively close to one another in time. In the seventy weeks prophecy, Gabriel appeared and helped Daniel to understand that while Jeremiah’s prediction of seventy years of captivity (Jeremiah 25:11-12) was nearly over for Israel, there was a deeper meaning for the seventy years as well. There would also be seventy weeks of years, or 490 years, from the time of the rebuilding of Jerusalem, until the end of the age. It would be sixty-nine weeks of years from the rebuilding of Jerusalem until the Messiah would come (and according to “The Coming Prince” by Sir Robert Anderson, from the time Nehemiah was sent to rebuild the walls of the city, sixty-nine weeks of years, where a year in the calendar of the day was 360 days, would work out to 173,880 days. This is to the day when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey on Palm Sunday, proclaiming himself to be king, Luke 19:28-44.) That last week of years, or the last seven years, will be the end of the age—and the rest of Daniel’s seventy weeks prophecy describes the antichrist, the covenant with Israel that begins those seven years, and the abomination of desolation 3.5 years in, which will initiate the last 3.5 years of tribulation. Daniel’s prophecy here doesn’t indicate that there is a gap between the 69th and the 70th week, though some scholars believe that was because there didn't have to be a gap: had the Jews accepted Jesus as Messiah when he rode in on Palm Sunday, the first and the second coming might have been one and the same. This might have been why Jesus wept as he rode into town (Luke 19:41-44). As it was, there is a pause in Daniel’s timeline “until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in” (Romans 11:25). In my retelling, therefore, I imagined how full Daniel’s mind must have been with such wonderful revelations. He’d seen and spoken with God’s messenger, not once, but twice (Gabriel also came to him in Daniel 8:16). He’d been in captivity nearly all his life, and now in his eighties, he realized that the time drew near for his people to return to Jerusalem. His prayer in Daniel 9:4-19 is so impassioned, one can almost picture him weeping as he contends for their release. Gabriel told him that he was greatly beloved (Daniel 9:23), and told him that not only did the time draw near for his people’s release, but also showed him God’s entire plan for history. Meanwhile, Darius wanted to promote Daniel because, like Pharaoh had said of Joseph,...
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January 07, 2022
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