Day 20: The Song of Vindication
Updated: Feb 24, 2021
“May your God, whom you serve so faithfully, rescue you.”--Daniel 6:16
This song is an invitation into the upside down kingdom of God where the pathway to love is the pathway through death, but the glories that await you on the other side are beyond compare. It's like Daniel and the Lions.
The story of Daniel in the lions' den is a famous Bible story that we like to tell children to remind them that God is always with us and will protect us in dangerous places if we obey him. But the reality is, Daniel and the lions is not a kids' story (so much of the stories we read in the Hebrew scriptures are not kids stories). It's a story that reveals what it means to be God's people.
Daniel's story is a rags to riches, to rags to riches story. He had worked his way up in the socio-political hierarchy to where he was about to become the king's right hand man only to have his colleagues betray him by using his good religious practices against him in a sneaky policy change that resulted in him being thrown into a den of hungry lions.
And a stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den.--Daniel 6:17
The next day, King Darius came to check on Daniel, he pulled the stone away and saw him sitting there with a bunch of hungry lions. The king made his judgment. He restored Daniel and ousted all of his rivals. He had them thrown in the lions' den and then declared Daniel's God to be the true God.
It's a great story but what does it all mean? When you go back to read Daniel chapter 6 you have to keep going and read through chapter 7. It's still going to be confusing unless you realize this: Daniel and the lions in chapter 6 is a story about Israel and the beasts in chapter 7. Daniel represents Israel and Israel is represented as the "One like a son of Man" (think "truly human one").
And behold, with the clouds of heaven
there came one like a son of man,
and he came to the Ancient of Days
and was presented before him.
And to him was given dominion
and glory and a kingdom,
that all peoples, nations, and languages
should serve him
I want to show you how to read Daniel 7 as a retelling of Daniel 6 but on a cosmic scale. Here is what happens in chapter 7. God, the Ancient of Days, is like king Darius from chapter 6. God puts Israel, who is like Daniel from chapter 6 (the one like a son of man) in charge but they are surrounded by beasts that want to devour God's people because of their desire to worship God. But the Ancient of Days makes his judgment on the oppressive nations and vindicates Israel and sets Israel as God's right hand man. It's Israel's rags to riches to rags to riches story. It's an epic version of Daniel in the lions' den but it has even bigger significance.
Jump to Mark 13:26 where Jesus quotes Daniel 7…
And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.
This is Jesus saying that he is Israel, that he is God's right hand man and he is also saying, "I must go into the lions' den and have the stone rolled over the entrance…for a time…and then I will be vindicated and with me all who belong to me!"
The early church fathers loved Daniel 7 because they knew it was all about Jesus' death and resurrection. They knew that it is the single most epic Daniel in the lions' den story and they knew it was their story too.
1 Corinthians 15:20–21, 25-27
In fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead…For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.
The stone is rolled away. Jesus is victorious.
If you are going to share fellowship with the Divine you must embrace your own rags to riches to rags to riches story. If you are to be a "one like the Son of man" you must come to serve not to be served. Well, that's not easy. That's why we've been given stories like Daniel so that when we find ourselves having to make decisions about our lives that we know are going to be hard, the Spirit gives a gentle whisper and says, The way up is through the lions' den. Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord and I will lift you up." and you say, "Okay…help me." and God says, "I am with you wherever you go." This is your vindication. This is your victory. Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ is coming again.
The old king is dead. Long live the King.
I confess my dimwitted ability to live in the victory of Resurrection. The lions of death seem so powerful. Guide me through the pit into new life as I participate with you in the vindication of your people, your realm, your cosmos. Amen.