Lessons from the Lions' Den
Jun 26, 2014
There are some important lessons to be learned from the sixth chapter of Daniel, where we find the prophet being cast into the lions’ den. But to understand that story, there are a few items in the background that you must know.
First, this incident took place under Persian rule after the fall of Babylon. This event is prophetic, but it is not about life under Babylon. It is about what happens after the fall of Babylon. At the present time, Babylon is falling, so we look forward to a future deliverance in the early years of the post-Babylonian era.
Without a doubt, the most important background to know is that King Cyrus of Persia was prophesied to be God’s “messiah” (Isaiah 45:1, read literally). He, along with his ally, King Darius of Medea, overthrew Babylon as types of Christ and prophesied of our own time when Mystery Babylon would be overthrown. Hence, Cyrus funded the rebuilding of the temple and of Jerusalem under Zerubbabel and Ezra, and in our day the modern “Cyrus” will fund the Kingdom of God.
Daniel prophesied of four “beasts” that would rule Jerusalem and surrounding nations. These were the “lion” of Babylon (Daniel 7:4), the “bear” of Persia (Daniel 7:5), the “leopard” of Greece (Daniel 7:6), and the nameless beast with iron teeth, which is Rome (Daniel 7:7). The last two beasts were given certain extensions to their license to rule. The Grecian beast had four horns, which were Alexander’s four generals that divided up his empire after Alexander died. The Roman beast had one little horn that extended the life of Rome through the Roman Church from 534-2014 A.D.
Yet when all of these “beasts” had run their course, the kingdom was to be given to the saints of the Most High (Daniel 7:22).
In a parallel prophecy in Daniel 2, where these beasts are portrayed in metallic terms as a single “image,” Babylon was the head of gold, Medea-Persia formed the arms of silver, Greece formed the belly of brass, and Rome formed the legs of iron. In this prophecy, however, we are also told that after these four empires had completed their course, a “stone” was cut from the mountain which struck the image on its feet, crushing it to powder. This is said to be the Kingdom of God (Daniel 2:44).
I have shown in past studies that the year 2014 is the endpoint of the four beast empires (and also the end of the iron kingdom). We now stand at the threshold of a new era, where the “stone” is being cut from the mountain. This “stone” will soon crush the image and arise, not as a “beast,” but as the Kingdom of God. This “stone” specifically crushes the final form of the “beast” empire, which the book of Revelation calls Mystery Babylon. We know it as the modern banking system, marked by the formation of the Federal Reserve Bank in 1914.
Persia was the second beast empire, yet it also served as a prophetic type of the “stone” kingdom in the future, in that God used it to overthrow Babylon. Hence, the prophecies of Cyrus as a messiah could not truly be fulfilled until the end of the beast empires in our own time. Persia overthrew Babylon in Daniel 5, but this was a type and shadow of the final overthrow of Mystery Babylon in our day.
When the Medes and Persians overthrew ancient Babylon, they diverted the River Euphrates, allowing the troops to enter the city on dry ground. King Belshazzar of Babylon was killed that night (Daniel 5:30), and Cyrus put Darius in charge of Babylon while he went to fight other wars (Daniel 5:31).
Darius divided the kingdom into 120 provinces (“satraps”) in Daniel 6:1. He also empowered three “commissioners” over them in Daniel 6:2, putting Daniel as the president of this committee. The number 120 is the biblical number of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, So we see how Darius, without realizing it, prophesied of the great end-time move of the Holy Spirit that is necessary to establish the Kingdom of God throughout the whole earth. And the saints (Daniel) were given the Kingdom.
Meanwhile, King Cyrus funded the reconstitution of the Kingdom, prophesying of a similar but greater fulfillment in our own time.
In other words, as we watch the fall of Babylon (the western economic and banking systems), we ought to see this event as divine deliverance. We should view the modern Cyrus and Darius as God’s answer to our prayers. But instead, many are fearful of what is coming, because they think that the Antichrist is coming to set up this one-world government. Hence, many Christians have been taught to fear the future, when in reality they should be rejoicing.
Revelation 16:12 says,
12 And the sixth angel poured out his bowl upon the great river, the Euphrates; and its water was dried up, that the way might be prepared for the kings from the east.
This passage is often taught to mean that the way is being prepared for China to attack the Israeli state and that a 200-million man army will march across the Middle East to attack the Israelis. And so they see this event in sinister terms, not realizing that (1) it was an angel of God who dried up the “river,” and (2) John’s prophecy drew from the original historical event, where the “messiah”—King Cyrus of Persia was sent by God to set His people free from Babylon!
Therefore, the sixth bowl drying up the River Euphrates is a good event, one which should be cause for rejoicing today.
The main difference is that the ancient kingdoms of Medea and Persia are no longer the “kings from the east” on the main stage of prophecy today. God has raised up new “kings,” which today are China and Russia. Anyone who watches the news can see the conflict between East and West that has been developing in recent years. It is for this reason Revelation 16:12 is non-specific. Though it speaks of drying up the river, it does not name Cyrus and Darius, nor does it name Persia and Medea. The original events in Daniel 5 are only prophetic types of a much larger event in our time.
With this background in mind, let us look more closely at the rest of Daniel 6, where Darius was forced to cast Daniel into the lions’ den. This event is undated, but it comes some time AFTER the fall of Babylon during the reign of Darius. Darius ruled on behalf of Cyrus, and he governed by Persian law.
It appears that the two commissioners under Daniel became jealous and conspired to accuse Daniel of corruption. They could find nothing wrong that Daniel did, so they devised a different plan. They discovered Daniel’s weakness. It was his devotion to God and his prayer life. Daniel 6:5 says of them,
5 Then these men said, “We shall not find any ground of accusation against this Daniel unless we find it against him with regard to the law of his God.”
They had to induce Darius to create a Persian law that would contradict the law of God. So they flattered the king, proposing that Darius pass a law forbidding anyone to petition any god or man for thirty days. All petitions had to be made only to Darius on pain of death. Darius did not realize their motives, of course, so he signed the decree into law.
Well, of course, Daniel continued to pray to God daily, as was his practice. The conspirators then reported this to the king. Daniel 6:14 says,
14 Then as soon as the king heard this statement, he was deeply distressed and set his mind on delivering Daniel; and even until sunset he kept exerting himself to rescue him.
Darius did not want to throw Daniel into the lions’ den, but Persia was a Constitutional Monarchy. Once a decree was signed into law, it could not be altered or revoked (Daniel 6:12, 15). So Darius was forced by his own law to carry out Daniel’s execution.
Daniel, however, survived the lions’ den, while the king spent a sleepless night hoping and praying that the God of Daniel was strong enough to deliver him. In the morning, he arrived at the den and was ecstatic that Daniel had indeed survived. The lions were still hungry, so Daniel’s accusers provided them with a hearty breakfast (Daniel 6:24).
Darius then proclaimed Persia to be the Kingdom of God. Daniel 6:26, 27 says,
26 “I make a decree that in all the dominion of my kingdom men are to fear and tremble before the God of Daniel; for He is the living God and enduring forever, and His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed, and His dominion will be forever. 27 He delivers and rescues and performs signs and wonders in heaven and on earth, who has also delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.”
As with the earlier decree, this law could not be altered or revoked. King Darius decreed that everyone in his kingdom must worship the God of Daniel, whose name was Yahweh and who was revealed later as Jesus Christ. This is the point where Persia was legally declared to be the Kingdom of God, and it prophesied of a greater decree in our time.
Darius prophesied that God’s Kingdom would endure forever and never be destroyed. This had been prophesied about seventy years earlier in King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream about the “stone” kingdom. Daniel 2:35 says “the stone that struck the statue became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.” Daniel 2:44 expands this prophecy, saying, “the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed.”
Both Nebuchadnezzar and Darius prophesied of a future time after the beast empires had fulfilled their mandates. They prophesied of the Kingdom of God that would arise and fill the whole earth. They prophesied the rule of King Jesus and the saints of the Most High under Him.
But here is the main point…. Daniel was cast into the lions’ den AFTER the fall of Babylon and AFTER he had been put into a position of rulership. This tells me that the saints of the Most High will still have to go through a time of persecution in the new order under “the kings from the east.” Just because Babylon falls does not mean that we will cease to have challenges. There will be ex-Babylonians who will change their allegiance to the new rulers, but they will not have the mind of Christ.
In fact, I believe there will be a showdown of some sort, where ambitious, jealous ex-Babylonians conspire against the overcomers. God will be behind this conspiracy, however, in order to expose the hearts of men and to draw out a decree that all men must serve the God of Daniel (and the overcomers). Our “lions’ den” experience will result in the furtherance of the Kingdom of God.
I recently wrote a weblog explaining Revelation 12, which suggested that after Michael casts down the red dragon, the enemy continues to persecute the saints. I believe that this is the New Testament witness to the prophecy of Daniel 6.
In years past, we could see only dimly, but now as we are approaching the downfall of Babylon, the details are becoming clearer. I used to see the fall of Babylon and the coming of Christ and the Kingdom as clear-cut, immediate events with little or no transition. But now it is becoming clear that these events will take time and will come in more “natural” ways than we saw earlier.
I will have more to say in the future as God may give further revelation.
Dr. Stephen Jones