Deliverance in the Lions’ Den
After King Darius realized that he had been tricked into signing a decree that would condemn Daniel, he set about trying to find a lawful way to exonerate the prophet. However, he appeared to be under a legal deadline, as he had only until sunset. When Daniel’s enemies saw what the king was doing, they came to him to remind him of his legal obligation, as Dan. 6:15 tells us,
15 Then these men came by agreement to the king and said to the king, “Recognize, O king, that it is a law of the Medes and Persians that no injunction or statute which the king establishes may be changed.”
They were telling the king to stop trying to exonerate Daniel and fulfill his duty to the law of the Medes and Persians. Daniel 6:16 continues,
16 Then the king gave orders and Daniel was brought in and cast into the lions’ den. The king spoke and said to Daniel, “Your God whom you constantly serve will Himself deliver you.”
For the king to make such a statement of faith suggests that Darius knew something of Daniel’s history and perhaps already knew that God had delivered Daniel’s three friends (chapter 3). He must have known some of the history of divine deliverance that had occurred during the Babylonian regime. He may also have discussed this personally with Daniel, and, if so, this may have been one of his motives earlier for appointing Daniel as the head commissioner.
Therefore also, it is plain that Darius never would have commanded Daniel to cease from praying to his God. Whether or not we might consider Darius to be a true believer, he knew that Daniel’s God was more powerful than the dead gods that others worshiped.
Even so, Darius had not been an eyewitness of God’s deliverance. As with all such people who have faith without personal experience, their faith is mixed with a certain amount of doubt or uncertainty as to the outcome. For this reason, as we will see shortly, Darius spent a sleepless night, wondering if God would actually deliver Daniel.
Daniel 6:17, 18 reads,
17 And a stone was brought and laid over the mouth of the den; and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the signet rings of his nobles, so that nothing might be changed in regard to Daniel. 18 Then the king went off to his palace and spent the night fasting, and no entertainment was brought before him; and his sleep fled from him.
The signet rings on the seal ensured that neither the king nor the nobles could interfere with the administration of justice. The king could not save Daniel secretly, nor could the nobles enter the den to kill Daniel. The prophet was alone with the lions and with God. The king then fasted and prayed all night.
One can scarcely find in the pages of history, any occasion where a king fasted and prayed for one of his servants. This highly unusual event shows the king’s high regard for Daniel. Whether he understood his actions or not, he was appealing his case to the divine court, asking God to deliver Daniel, for he knew that justice had not been served in putting Daniel in the lions’ den.
The Conversion of Darius
The next morning, after a sleepless night of fasting, the king hastened to the lions’ den to view the results of his appeal. Dan. 6:19, 20 says,
19 Then the king arose with the dawn, at the break of day, and went in haste to the lions’ den. 20 And when he had come near the den to Daniel, he cried out with a troubled voice. The king spoke and said to Daniel, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you constantly serve, been able to deliver you from the lions?”
Here we see that after a night of prayer and fasting, King Darius had come to recognize Daniel’s God as “the living God.” This suggests, at least on a prophetic level, that the king had received some form of revelation. To recognize Daniel’s God as “living” implies that he knew the idols and gods of Babylon and Persia were all “dead.” Psalm 135:15-18 says,
15 The idols of the nations are but silver and gold, the work of man’s hands. 16 They have mouths, but they do not speak; they have eyes, but they do not see; 17 they have ears, but they do not hear; nor is there any breath at all in their mouths. 18 Those who make them will be like them, yes, everyone who trusts in them.
When the Israelites worshiped these other gods, they became like those gods. Hence, we read in Jer. 5:20, 21,
20 Declare this in the house of Jacob and proclaim it in Judah, saying, 21 Hear this, O foolish and senseless people, who have eyes, but see not; who have ears, but hear not.
If we apply this principle to King Darius, it suggests that the king’s night of fasting was more than a night of worry. He was converted to the God of Daniel, and his faith would be ratified the next morning when he saw evidence of the power of the living God. Prior to this time, his eyes had been blinded and his ears closed—the natural result of serving gods who were both blind and deaf. But in the morning, armed with the revelation of “the living God,” his spiritual eyes and ears were opened to see the glory of God and to hear His revelatory word, by which faith is imparted in the hearts of men.
This prophetic story also applies necessarily to the kings of the east in the last days when Mystery Babylon is taken.
Daniel 6:21, 22 says,
21 Then Daniel spoke to the king, “O king, live forever! 22 My God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths, and they have not harmed me, inasmuch as I was found innocent before Him; and also toward you, O king, I have committed no crime.”
Daniel’s answer attributes his deliverance to an acquittal in the divine court, “inasmuch as I was found innocent before Him—and also toward you.” This is a good example of how a man may be found guilty in an earthly court, but innocent in the heavenly court.
Here, however, we must point out that many martyrs throughout history have been found innocent in the heavenly court but were not delivered from unjust sentences of the earthly courts. What is the difference? When can we expect to be delivered as in Daniel’s case?
It is hardly possible to make a broad statement about every such case, but generally speaking, it depends on whether a person is part of the pattern of the first work of Christ or the second. The laws of the two works of Christ are set forth primarily in Leviticus 14 and 16. Leviticus 14 speaks of the laws of leprosy (i.e., mortality), wherein the first dove was to be killed, and the second was to be released alive. Leviticus 16 speaks of the lawful procedure on the Day of Atonement to deal with sin, wherein the first goat was to be killed, and the second was to be released alive.
The first dove and the first goat prophesy of the first work of Christ, where He was to die to bring us both immortality and cleansing from sin. The second dove and the second goat were to be released alive, prophesying of Christ’s second coming (and work) to complete the work begun with His first work. The fact that the second dove represents Christ in His second coming is proven by comparing Lev. 14:6 with Rev. 19:13, where both are said to be dipped in blood.
In other words, the first was a death work, while the second was a living work. The aftermath of Christ’s first work was foreseen in John 15:18-20, where Jesus said,
18 If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you… 20 If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you…
The apostles and many other believers in the first century—and for many centuries afterward—became martyrs, giving their lives for their witness of the gospel. They all identified with Christ’s first work as the Great Martyr. But at the time of Christ’s second coming, a new situation is established, wherein the persecution does not result in death but in deliverance. This idea is expressed prophetically in Psalm 118:16-18,
16 The right hand of the Lord is exalted; the right hand of the Lord does valiantly. 17 I shall not die, but live, and tell of the works of the Lord. 18 The Lord has disciplined me severely, but He has not given me over to death.
This is a psalm that prophesies of the rejected stone becoming the head of the corner (Psalm 118:22). The rejected stone was Jesus in His first coming; the stone’s placement is Jesus in His second coming. This being a living work, rather than a death work, the psalmist was able to prophesy in Psalm 118:6,
6 The Lord is for me; I will not fear; what can man do to me?
If Daniel had been cast into the lions’ den in the early part of his career—at the start of the Babylonian era—he may have become another example of an Old Testament martyr. But this story took place in the early days of the Persian Empire after the fall of Babylon. Therefore, it speaks prophetically about the saints of the Most High who are to be given authority in the Age to come. Their prophetic pattern is not based upon Jesus’ death on the cross, but upon His coming in power to rule the earth. Hence, the saints’ destiny today is not to be killed but to be released alive and only “dipped in blood.”
Daniel’s deliverance, then, is what we should expect at this end of the age. We may not be able to avoid the lions’ den (whatever form it may take), but it is our lot to prepare to live and to rule, not to join the ranks of the blessed martyrs of the past.
Martyrdoms and Deliverances
The time in which we live is no guarantee (in itself) that a person will live through the coming “lions’ den” experience. There may be some who are called to experience the martyrdom of the first work of Christ, while others will be impossible to kill.
In the book of Acts we see both patterns within the context of the first work of Christ, and these occur side by side. Recall from my audio teachings on the book of Acts that there are a number of these patterns in the first half of Acts.
First, in Acts 3 we see the pattern of Peter and John who went to the temple at the ninth hour of the day, which is the time of the evening sacrifice. The morning and evening sacrifices depict the two works of Christ in this particular view, so the story in Acts 3 is a prophetic picture of the second work of Christ.
At the gate of the temple, Peter raised the lame man in Acts 3:6-8, and then he used that as an illustration of the resurrection of the dead at the end of the age (Acts 4:1, 2). The temple guards came and arrested them, but in the end, they were released (Acts 4:23), even as the second dove was to be released in Lev. 14:7. Later that evening the Holy Spirit was poured out the second time (Acts 4:31), which was the prophetic pattern of what we shall soon experience as well.
The apostles were again arrested, flogged, and released in Acts 5:40, 41. In this case, as they walked away, they looked like the second dove after it had been dipped in the blood of the first dove (Lev. 14:6). As types of the second work of Christ, they would not be killed, but they were flogged. In other words, being identified with the second work of Christ does not mean one will necessarily escape persecution. It only means that a person will not suffer death from that persecution.
Then in Acts 6 and 7, we see the story of Stephen, known as “the first martyr.” He was killed for his witness, because he was identified with Jesus in His death work. Stephen is then juxtaposed with Philip in Acts 8, who was caught away (harpazo) by the Spirit (Acts 8:39, 40). Not only was it his calling to present a picture of the second work of Christ, but he experienced the catching away, which is the event prophesied to occur on the 8th day of Tabernacles. Stephen and Philip depicted the two doves.
Then in Acts 12 we read of James and Peter, who also depict the two works of Christ. James was killed (Acts 12:2), but Peter was released from prison by the angel of God (Acts 12:7). Those who do not understand the revelation of the two works of Christ are often perplexed as to why God did not save the life of James as He did with Peter. Some have found fault with James, but there is no biblical justification for such a view. It was necessary to have both men walk out the revelation of the two works of Christ in order to help us to understand the revelation of the two doves.
The point that I want to make is that if we see the apostles themselves depicting the two works of Christ at the start of the Pentecostal Age, then there is no reason to think that both patterns could not be manifested in us as well at the start of the Tabernacles Age. The main difference, I believe, is that the second work ought to be the dominant pattern for us today, since we do live in the time of the second work of Christ. In fact, those who are actually called to fulfill this second work—which is to preach the word under the anointing of the second outpouring of the Spirit—might expect to be impossible to kill during that time, on account of their divine protection.
Yet in the midst of this, since most Christians still have no revelation about the two different works of Christ, I would expect God to continue revealing this in the same manner that He did in the early chapters of the book of Acts. I would expect to see at least a few people linked together in pairs for the purpose of revelation.
Either way, people are identified with Christ and will be rewarded accordingly. We are all in this together, and the law of unity means that we partake of the reward of those who do different functions from sowing, watering, and reaping in God’s harvest.
The only thing that will not have to be repeated will be Christ’s death on the cross.
So regardless of our particular function in the divine plan, we are entering the time of preaching the word that will build the Kingdom for the Age to come. This was seen in the story of Jonah, whose second calling was fulfilled by his preaching the word to Nineveh. This was seen in the book of Acts, where the disciples were released in order to preach the word, first in Acts 4:18-20, 31, then in Acts 5:42, then in Acts 8:40, and finally in Acts 12:24.
This second work of Christ is what we call the Open Door Ministry, for this is the biblical pattern of Jonah and again with the apostles. It is based also on the angel opening the prison door for Peter to be released to preach the word. In that he then fled to Caesarea and then continued on to Antioch and finally to Rome, we understand that the word must be preached even to the capital city of the beast-nation that then existed.
This revelation of the second dove in the book of Acts shows also how the apostles themselves had to change their cultural mindset in order to fulfill the calling of the second dove. Up to that time their cultural background had caused them to focus upon “the God of Israel” or “the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,” which tended to limit the promises of God to a certain genealogy.
But the book of Acts shows how the revelation of God broadened their thinking. It caused Philip to preach the word in Samaria (Acts 8:5). It later caused Peter to preach the word at the house of Cornelius, the Roman centurion (Acts 10:24). Peter learned “that God is not one to show partiality” (Acts 10:34).
Later Peter fled to Antioch, and Paul was commissioned to preach the word to the nations, all based on the law of impartiality (Lev. 19:34, 35, 36).
There are two levels of fulfillment that we must consider in order to understand this revelation fully. The first is the personal, or individual experience; the second is the historical time in which one lives. Take, for example, the fact that Peter was released from prison in order to portray the picture of the second dove in his personal experience. We know that Peter later died as a martyr, because he could not escape the historical time in which he lived—which was the time of the first dove. Historically, he was required to walk out the pattern of Christ’s own martyrdom on the cross.
The first dove was the dominant pattern of the Church during the Age of Pentecost, and so they all died, most of them as martyrs. But we are now coming into a new day, where we shall see the resurrection of the dead and come into immortality. Those who attain that resurrection will not die at all, and so they will represent the second dove in the ultimate sense.
Yet even those believers who do not receive immortality at this time may live out the patterns of the second dove in their individual experiences. In other words, they may escape death in certain incidents of their lives, while still remaining mortal or even dying as martyrs at a later time. This is what happened with Philip and Peter.
I believe that the pattern of Daniel’s personal deliverance from the lions’ den will be seen more often in the days ahead than in the book of Acts. It will become the dominant pattern of events at the time of Babylon’s fall, and Daniel was delivered from the lions in order to give us this understanding and expectation.
Yet after the first resurrection (Rev. 20:4-6), some will be identified fully with the second dove—Christ in His second manifestation. These cannot be killed by their enemies on the personal level, nor can they die on the historical level.