Al Palanza’s brother had been dead for two weeks when a letter arrived at the address of the deceased. Social Services had written to notify him that his food stamps had been discontinued… “…because we received notice that you have passed away. You may reapply if there is a change in your circumstances.” When questioned, the social services director said that the letter was computer-generated. Social Services is working on a more appropriate letter.
Don Marquis, the New York newspaperman who charmed readers in the 1920s, loved to tell this story about himself. “Marquis suffered a heart attack. It was urgent that he be taken to a hospital at once. All the ambulances were in service, so a hearse was sent for him. But on the way to the hospital, the glass-paned hearse was halted in a traffic jam. The hearse pulled up next to a smart little open roadster in which two frolicsome young women were gaily chattering. Then, they glanced through the glass panel where Marquis’ burly figure lay under a blanket. At the moment, he caught their eyes, and in spite of heartburn, appalled them with a slow, magnificent wink. The women became hysterical and, as his hearse rolled away, he saw them crash into another car.
Our Savior Jesus Christ truly did rise from the dead. Those who first saw must have been amazed when he gave a slight grin and a magnificent wink. There was no doubt they lived better lives after that.
The sixth chapter of Daniel we often read as a faith and commitment chapter. It is a faith and commitment chapter as we find that Daniel stands his ground for what he believes. He is unwilling to stop worshiping God, even for the sake of the King’s decree. As a result, Daniel is thrown into the lion’s den. Willing to die for his faith in God. That stuff preaches and we can have a lot of sermons on faith and commitment out of Daniel.
What we fail to see is that the 6th chapter of Daniel is also prophetic for the crucifixion, death and resurrection of Christ. Look with me at the unmistakable similarities between the story in Daniel and the story of Jesus. Beyond the strong similarities is the fact that the two accounts are 600 years apart. With such similarities at such a distance, the writing becomes prophetic.
Daniel because of his great leadership (wisdom and dreams) has become well known in the kingdom, Jesus (understanding and miracles) has become well known in Judea. Daniel is the one who the kings sought out for wisdom. Jesus’ popularity was established when we road into Jerusalem on what we call Palm Sunday.
Daniel is persecuted because he will not stop worshiping God, Jesus is persecuted because He claims to be God.
Daniel was so perfect that he gained enemies among his peers, Jesus made enemies of the religious leaders. These leaders wanted to kill them. They could not find a true reason nor a legal reason to kill them. So they lie, they entrap and they plan their demise. Darius knows that he has been used by the other leaders to get Daniel. While Pilate was sitting on the judge’s seat, his wife sent him this message: “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.”
Daniel is placed in a den of lions and the den sealed, Jesus is put into a tomb and it is also sealed. In the middle east, when they wanted entertainment, they put someone in an arena and watched the lions eat the person. Here is an unusual situation in that not only is there not a public spectacle, but the lions are housed in a cave or den. The cave is sealed, so that no one can go in or come out. Jesus, following His crucifixion, is placed in a borrowed tomb, a cave. Tomb is also sealed. They don’t want anyone stealing the body. They even put a guard at watch.
The next morning Darius comes running to the sealed tomb to find the fate of Daniel, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary rushed to the tomb to find the fate of Jesus. Darius cannot eat or sleep and runs to the den and says, at the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den. “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?”
SERVANT OF THE LIVING GOD! In this 6th chapter is the first and only time that phrase is used in Daniel. Did he really expect Daniel to be alive, only if God was alive! The Marys come to the tomb with spices for burying Jesus. (Matthew 28:2-4) There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.
There is an angel in both accounts. Daniel tells Darius that God sent an angel to close the mouths of the lions to spare Daniel. Death cannot touch Daniel. The angel at the empty tomb told the women, Why do you seek the living One among the dead?
That we lived with such confidence! What is it that gave Daniel such faith? Because Daniel didn’t just believe in a God, Daniel believed in a “living” God.
I stand here today just as convinced of the resurrection of Jesus as I stood here one year ago. I have been to the den of lions. I know what it is to walk through the valley of the shadow of death. Perhaps all of that has even strengthened my resolve. “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”
I like Job can honestly say, I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes – I, and not another.