The text for this lesson is Daniel 6:1–27
- Daniel called upon the one true God, who heard Daniel’s prayer and protected him in the lions’ den. God hears our prayers and protects us from sin, death, and the devil.
- Law: This sinful world, Satan, and my own sinful flesh all conspire against me to turn me away from faith in God. The commandments stand firm: you shall have no other gods; you shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.
- Gospel: The triune God is the only true God. He forgives my sins for Jesus’ sake, gives me faith and strengthens it through His Word and Sacraments, and promises to hear my prayers and give me what I need.
- Babylon, under the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar, conquered Judah and led away captives. Daniel and many of the smartest and wealthiest people were among the captives. Daniel was chosen to serve in the court of King Nebuchadnezzar and, under God’s blessing, proved himself to be a wise counselor to the king, even rising above the king’s Babylonian advisors. This created jealousy against Daniel. In this foreign country of Babylon, people did not worship the one true God. Even in the midst of false worship and persecution, Daniel remained faithful to the true God and continued to pray and worship Him alone.
The account of Daniel’s life is ripe with imagery. Daniel is a Christ figure. The satraps are satanic figures, setting Daniel up to be accused of crimes. The lions’ den can be compared to hell and eternal damnation. When the satraps succeed in sentencing Daniel to death by throwing him into the lions’ den, he overcomes it by the power of God and rises out of the pit. His accusers in turn are cast into “hell” and are destroyed (Psalm 9:15). This is a picture of Christ’s suffering, death, and resurrection.
Daniel’s fellow high officials were jealous of his gifts of leadership and wisdom. They couldn’t find any fault in him, so they devised a way to trap him on account of his faith. If someone wanted to find fault with us, it wouldn’t be terribly difficult. We tend to our needs at the cost of others. We too often speak poorly about other people. We are lazy in our work and school duties. We neglect God’s Word and prayer even after His command to pray and His promise to hear. But Daniel’s enemies could find no fault with his life or work.
So they set a trap for Daniel. They manipulated the king to create a law forbidding prayer to anyone but the king for thirty days. Daniel, however, remained faithful to God’s Word. He never ceased to pray, refusing to follow the king’s new law even for just thirty days. He didn’t sneak off and do it privately in a hidden spot. Instead, he prayed openly three times a day, kneeling and facing Jerusalem in front of open windows. And he didn’t just “pray in his heart or mind.” He prayed with his voice and body.
Daniel broke the law by remaining faithful to God, and the satraps accused him before King Darius. They also accused the king of not wanting to enforce his law. They reminded him that his law, like all laws of the Medes and Persians, could not be ignored, broken, or changed.
The king must command that Daniel be punished as the law demands, and so he did. But he also pleaded with Daniel to pray to God for deliverance. Then he went back and fasted that night on Daniel’s behalf.
The living God, who alone hears prayers, sent an angel to shut the lions’ mouths. The law was fulfilled and the condemnation imposed, but miraculously, the innocent Daniel came forth from the lions’ den the next day with no harm. God had saved him! Then, the king threw the accusers and their families into the lions’ den, and they were destroyed. After that, the king made a new decree: all the people in his dominion were to tremble and fear before Daniel’s God, the one living, eternal God, whose kingdom never ends, who delivers and rescues, who works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth.
So, too, God, who listened to Daniel’s prayers and saved him from the power of the lions, saves us from sin, death, and that prowling lion, the devil, through His Son, Jesus. He invites us to call upon Him and promises to answer our prayers for Jesus’ sake.