Daniel and Christ

by J. Philip Scranton

"I AM RESCUED out of the mouth of the lion (2 Tim.4:17). Paul used this phrase figuratively in his second letter to Timothy to describe his deliverance in a difficult and trying situation. Such a powerful, picturesque expression dramatically illustrates the power of God to liberate his chosen ones from any dilemma.

Daniel, in a very literal way, was also rescued from the mouth of lions. But Daniel's case was only typical and illustrative of the greater emancipation which God gave to His Son.

Psalm 22 begins, "My El! My El! Why have You forsaken me?" and it ends, "...He has done this" The crucifixion begins with the same words (Matt.27:46) and ends with the similar expression: "It is accomplished" (John 19:30). The details throughout the twenty- second Psalm clearly show it to be prophetic of the crucifixion. And not to be overlooked among these details are these statements: "They open their mouth wide against me like a lion, ravening and roaring" (verse 13); and, "Save me from the mouth of the lion" (verse 21). The lion which Christ faced on the cross was death. The power of death had been committed to the one who is "walking about as a roaring lion, seeking someone to swallow up" (Peter 5: 8; Heb.2:14).

God has delighted to foreshadow and typify the wondrous work of His Son throughout the pages of the Hebrew Scriptures. The similarities of the deliverance of Daniel from the lion's den to the deliverance of Christ from death are worthy of our meditation.

Daniel and Christ both lived in times when their nation was subjected to foreign powers. These political circumstances influenced the sentences passed and carried out against them. Both Daniel and our Lord were conspired against by those who were jealous of them (Dan.6:4; Mark 15:10; John 11:47-53). Daniel and Christ were both in positions of authority over their betrayers (Dan.6:1; John 6:70,71). Both Daniel and Christ were faithful and faultless in the performance of their duties (Dan.6:4; Luke 23:5; John 19:6). The only hope Daniel's enemies had in finding something against him was in his relationship to his God (Dan.6: 5). So also the final accusation against Christ was based upon His relationship to God (John 19:7). Both Daniel and Christ did what they did openly (Dan.6:10; Luke 22:52,53). Daniel was seen praying three times daily (Dan.6:10), and Christ prayed three times in Gethsemane where He was betrayed. Neither the conspirators against Daniel nor those against Christ had the authority to execute their victim, but both groups pressured someone in greater authority to fulfill their desires (Dan.6:11- 13; John 19:7,12). Both Darius and Pilate tried unsuccessfully to deliver the accused from their assailants (Dan.6:14-16; John 19: 8-12).

The tomb where Christ was laid and the vault of the lions were closed by a stone (Matt.27:60; Dan.6:17). Both the tomb and the lion's vault were sealed by official authority (Matt.27:62- 66; Dan.6:17). The lions' mouths were closed, and they did not harm Daniel (Dan.6:18); and it was not possible for death to hold Christ (Acts 2:24). The disciples and followers of Christ grieved deeply over His crucifixion and were early visitors to His tomb, just as Darius grieved over Daniel and hurried to the lion's den early in the morning (Dan.6:18-20).

Both Daniel and Christ were raised from the vault and tomb through God's power (Dan.6:22,23; Acts 2:22-24). Just as Daniel's accusers were cast to the lions (Dan.6:24), Israel, owning the bloodguiltiness for Christ (Matt.27:25), was cast away by God, and suffered the destruction of their nation in 70 A.D. This sentence is yet in effect.

Because of Daniel's deliverance, knowledge of Daniel's God and a message of welfare, or peace, was to be sent to all nations of the earth (Dan.6:25-27). So also, through the resurrection of Christ, the peace of God will go to the entire universe (Col.1: 20). Even as Daniel was prospered in the kingdom after coming out of the lion's den (Dan.6:28), so also Christ was exalted to the highest position of authority after His resurrection from death (Eph.1:20-23; Phil.2:9-11).

Christ was "saved from the lion's mouth" by the might of God's strength which raised Him from the dead. This power is operative in us too (Eph.1:19,20). What encouragement it is, not only that we will be saved from the lion's mouth, but also that we shall be graced to become a part of that great administration in which the lion of death will be abolished (1 Cor.15:26)!

© J. Philip Scranton
[Return to main indexpage]