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Daniel ‘s Story, or Christ in the Lions’ Den

So how does this passage fit into redemptive history? In the subsequent chapter (i.e., Daniel 7) Daniel has a vision of four “beast” nations. The zenith of that chapter is Daniel’s vision of “one like the Son of Man” coming to receive an everlasting kingdom by overthrowing those beasts. This is a prophetic word about Christ and the kingdom of God overcoming the kingdoms of this world. Jesus is the Son of Man who overthrows the ravenous beast-nations of prey. The lions’ den is emblematic of these devouring nations. This is one reason why Mark tells us that when Jesus faced off against the evil one in the wilderness (also a fulfillment of Genesis 3:15), he was strengthened was with the “wild beasts.” The Son of Man is the last Adam who came to overcome the beast-nations of this world. In this way, Daniel in the den with tame beasts of prey was reminiscent of Adam in the Garden with dominion over the animals and a prefiguration of the Last Adam—Jesus Christ—in the wilderness with the wild beasts. As the greater Daniel came out of the tomb, He had dominion over all things.

Additionally, Daniel is a type of Christ who goes into the lions’ den and comes out victorious. Charles Spurgeon explained:

“Daniel is a type of our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus had enemies who tried to destroy him; they could find nothing against him except, “touching his God.” They accused him of blasphemy, and then afterwards, as they did Daniel, they brought a charge of sedition. He was cast into the den, into the grave: his soul was among the lions. They sealed his tomb with their signet, lest any should steal him by night, but he arose as Daniel did, alive and unhurt, and his enemies were destroyed.”

In a similar manner, Iain Duguid writes:

“Like Daniel, Jesus was falsely accused by his enemies and brought before a ruler, Pontius Pilate, who sought unsuccessfully to deliver him from his fate, before handing him over to a violent death. Like Daniel, Jesus was condemned to die, and his body was placed into a sealed pit so that his situation could not be changed by human intervention. Jesus’ trial went even deeper than Daniel’s, however: he did not merely suffer the threat of death, he went down into death itself. Although Jesus was innocent, he suffered the fate of the guilty ones. There was no angel to comfort him with the presence of God in his pit; on the contrary, he was left in the blackness utterly alone and abandoned by God, suffering the fate that we, the guilty ones, deserved. His body was left entombed in the icy grip of death for three days before the angel finally came to roll away his stone.”

Sinclair Ferguson sums this principle of Christological typology up when he states:

“Through Daniel’s experience God gave hints of what would occur when Christ came to deal with the powers of darkness. By exposing Himself to the power of death, He conquered all His and our enemies.”

In all that happened to him, Daniel was serving the purposes of God in redemptive history. He was standing as a typical last Adam, gaining representative dominion over the threatening powers of darkness and subduing even the ravenous bests. In the destruction of Daniel’s persecuting enemies, God was foreshadowing the judgment that He will pour out on the wicked in the last day. In Daniel’s being thrown into the lions’ den and bring brought out whole and alive, God was giving us a prefiguration of the death and resurrection of Jesus. It is in that death and resurrection that the new creation is secured, the enemies of God conquered, and the people of God exalted. In this way, Daniel 6 is not so much about Daniel in the lions’ den as it is about Christ in the lions’ den of the wrath of God for the redemption of His people and the consummation of all things.

This article originally appeared here.