As God shut the mouths of the lions in the den with Daniel, He silences the roar of the lion, the Accuser, who seeks to devour you with condemnation.
When Daniel emerged miraculously from the lions’ den, he exclaimed: “My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths…” (Daniel 6:22, ESV). Daniel didn’t fight them off—God shut their mouths.
I once heard Pastor Tim Keller say something like this: Many people are not Christians today because the story of Daniel is so famous and because they have heard it taught like this: if you will be good and brave enough, then you will emerge from your lions’ dens like Daniel, without a scratch.
Really? People have rejected Christianity because Daniel’s story has been wrongly preached?
In preparing to preach on Daniel and the lions’ den, I surfed the web for sermons on the famous text. I found a plethora of messages that expounded how we need to choose character over comfort. There were many sermons that emphasized the importance of integrity. And plenty emphasized the necessity of a positive witness in the world.
Here’s a quote from one message: “We need more Daniels. We need more people … who are willing to open their windows and honor him before a watching world.”
The messages aren’t wrong – they just aren’t helpful.
The problem with moralistic readings of the scripture stories is that it misses the entire meaning of the Bible. The Scripture isn’t an instruction book; it is a glorious metanarrative revealing God’s plan of redemption in Jesus Christ. The instructions in God’s Word are certainly helpful and the exhortations to godly living are inspiring. But if we reduce the gospel to “be more like Daniel,” then we haven’t preached the gospel at all. You could be a Muslim or a Hindu or a Universalist and say, “Look at Daniel, he stood his ground. Keep your convictions.” All Christian preaching must have Christ at its center.
The point of Daniel and the lions’ den is the prefiguring of Christ. It is Jesus who silences the roaring lion because, in Christ, you are found blameless.
I hope you’ll tune in today via radio or podcast or streaming to hear how the Accuser has no bite. When the lion that seeks to accuse you has none of your sin to hold over you, he can’t afflict you. You’re forgiven fully. The lion has to shut his mouth. And that’s the Gospel!