Beth Moore - Surrounded by Lions - Part 2
I want you to look now at the lions. You, of course, noticed that Daniel is thrown into the lions' den and when you think about what it would be like to be thrown into a den of hungry lions, we are reminded that humanity in its depravity has always been able to come up with imaginatively terrifying ways to kill one another. Isn't it true? Isn't it true? Is there just no end to how creative man can get in man's depravity when it comes to killing one another? It says that they threw him in the lions' den. The word for den there, you've seen that word translated into English a number of times, especially if you've been in the Psalms. It's "pit". It's a waterless cistern.
So when you hear the Psalmist talk about, "Don't let me go down to the pit," when he talks about being in the bottom of a pit, it's the same word that's being used right here into this lions' den. They threw him into a cistern, into a space where there were hungry lions. And so I thought I'd give you a little background on lions in the Word of God. I just love doing a word study like that and looking through it, and looking at every time I read almost every single verse in the entire Word of God from Genesis to Revelation that has the word "lion" in it. And it appears about a hundred times in Scripture.
And so there are four types of lions in the Word of God, and the first one is this. There's the animal species. These are real live lions. But also, number two, is this: people as lions. Psalm 57 and Psalm 22 are places that are extremely significant that bring up lions. So that's animal species, number one, people as lions, number two. We're talking about four kinds of lions in Scripture. Number three, the devil "like a roaring lion". That's 1 Peter 5:8. We're gonna turn to it in just a few moments. Number four is the Lion of the tribe of Judah, prophesied as early as Genesis and seen in complete and consummate fulfillment in Revelation 5, which we will also see in a moment. Four kinds of lions: the animals themselves, people as lions, the devil like a roaring lion, and the Lion of the tribe of Judah.
So what is their commonality? What is it about lions that makes it significant enough to bring up that many times whether it's an imagery or whether it is literal in its context and in its sense, what is it about lions, what does it have in common every single time? Proverbs 30:30 would tell us that. That a lion, it refers to a lion, "which is the mightiest among beasts and doesn't retreat before anything". There are two things about lions that are consistent and every single time you will see it, that are to be somehow a tie between every single mention and that is its might and that is its danger. Its danger. In all four of the categories that I mentioned to you just a moment ago, we would see danger. Now, I want you to notice with me, hold that thought right there because we're gonna circle back to it, did you notice with me that we know nothing of how Daniel's night went, absolutely nothing. All we know is how King Darius's night went. And it said he fasted all night.
Now, I don't know about you. I guess kings just, like, eat during the night. I guess they're the kinds that just get to go, "You know, it's 2 a.m. I'm wondering if somebody could bring me some butter popcorn". I don't know but fasting all night is not what I really would have found most impressive but the fact that he is up fasting and praying is another matter. The fact that he is troubled, the fact that he cannot sleep, that he cannot wait 'til morning, that is an entirely different matter. But we know nothing of the night of Daniel. These are things that you and I are gonna have to get to heaven and find out. We're gonna have to hear the stories of exactly what happened in that den. Did they roar? Did they threaten? What happened in the den of lions?
Here's what we do know. They did not likely become sweet little house cats. How do we know that? Because in no time at all before the chapter is over, they will have eaten a whole group of people, immediately after this. Oh, they were starving. They just didn't eat Daniel because the Lord shut their mouths. Remember those four kinds of lions in Scripture? Animal species, people as lions, the devil like a roaring lion, the Lion of the tribe of Judah. Let's look at two and three for just a couple of moments. I want you to see some Scriptures that refer to people as lions. So leave something here in Daniel chapter 6 and go with me now to Psalm 57.
Now, I love how the Lord will set a teacher or pastor, anyone communicating the Word of God, he'll set us up with a lesson. Now, sometimes, it always troubles me when he doesn't. When I'm getting pretty close to when I need to have it ready and I'm just a couple of days out and I'm still not clear on what I'm supposed to teach. What I love best of all is when he's setting me up, when he's cornering me with it, when every place I turn, it's facing me again, well, before I ever even thought about teaching from Daniel, God already had started me on memorizing the 57th Psalm, and I've memorized it out of the CSB and, in fact, it's just a kindness of the Lord that I would end Daniel today in my morning devotions, most of the material I get for teaching lessons, whether it's an event or it's on a particular evening like this evening, most of my material comes from my own devotional reading. It's because something in my own time with God started jumping off the page at me.
And that's exactly the case for Daniel, exactly the case for teaching tonight and I'd just finished the 12th chapter this morning. But also, just finished memorizing Psalm 57. I'm very, very weak at it still. I can't get it word for word without glancing at it. But I wanna read it to you because I want you to hear it so turn to it but I also want you to hear it because I want you to let these words sink in to you and I want you particularly to hear the references to lions. "Be gracious to me, God, be gracious to me, for I take refuge in you. I will seek refuge in the shadow of your wings until danger passes".
Does that sound like a Psalm anybody might need right now? In the danger that hovers over us, this gorgeous Psalm, this plea already approved by God, inspired by him, by God himself, "Be gracious to me, God, be gracious to me, for I take refuge in you. I will seek refuge in the shadow of your wings until danger passes. I call to God Most High". I love this part. "To God who fulfills his purpose for me". When we are in danger, there's nothing that is any more important to remember than that God will fulfill his purpose for us. Anybody need to know that in the house tonight? Anybody need to know that on the other side of the screen tonight? Because there's something very powerful in our praying. When we cry out for God's protection, we cry out for his deliverance, we cry to be under his wing in the refuge of our God, and we are reminded to God Most High who fulfills his purpose for me. Knowing there is nothing, nothing, that can interrupt what God wants to do with our lives, as we seek him he is so faithful.
"He reaches down from heaven and saves me, challenging the one who tramples me. Selah". The scholars are not quite sure exactly what selah means, but it does mean to take a pause. It does mean to think a moment. It does mean think about what you just said, "Who challenges the one who tramples me". "God sends his faithful love and truth". Here we go. "I am surrounded by lions; I sit down among devouring lions". Now he's about to say what he means by lions and this is very, very insightful. "People whose teeth are spears and arrows, whose tongues are sharp swords. God, be exalted above the heavens; let your glory be over the whole earth. They prepared a net for my steps; I was despondent. They dug a pit ahead of me, but they fell into it! Selah".
Think about what you're saying. I want you to hear those words because he talks about lions that when people are described in the Word of God as lions, it's always about the sharp teeth and the mouth. It's always about the roar and it's about when the teeth are like spears and arrows and the tongue is like a sharp sword. Did you notice with me, when he says, "I'm surrounded by them," did you notice after he says those words and describes their teeth and describes their tongue, did you notice that he stops and takes a praise break right there? "O God, be exalted above the heavens; let your glory be over the whole earth". Then he goes down to, "Well, they prepared a net for my steps," and all the things that they had planned against him.
But notice right in the middle of it, he has to take a moment, and exalt God. Because this is the life of security in our God, that continually in rehearsing what has happened to us, goes, "O God, you're exalted above the heavens. Let your glory be over the whole earth. You are God and I belong to you". "They prepared a net for my steps; I was despondent. They dug a pit ahead of me, but they fell into it"! This, I love this part, and I just know somebody wants to commit this part to memory. "My heart is confident, God, my heart is confident". Anybody need to just be able to make that confession in your God? "My heart is confident, God, my heart is confident. I will sing; I will sing praises. Wake up, my soul! Wake up, harp and lyre! I will wake up the dawn".
And one of the reasons why I love to get up before daylight is because of this psalm. I love to think that my praises could awaken the dawn. And you know, it's just a figurative picture in our minds but I love that thought so much. "Let my praises break the dawn out of its slumber and get it stretching its arms and limbs and come up, O sun, but you will not beat me to the praises of our God. I will praise you, Lord, among the people; I will praise you among the nations. For your faithful love is as high as the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the clouds. God, be exalted above the heavens; let your glory be over the whole earth".
Been thinking here recently that sometimes we may not be the lion that is ripping people to shreds with their teeth but we can feed the lions. There are all sorts of ways we can egg people on to tear people apart with their words. Sometimes we are the lions and sometimes we feed the lions. Turn with me to 1 Peter 5:8. Many of you may know this verse well but it's so important tonight in terms of our lesson because this is a reality we live with every single day of our lives. "Be sober-minded, be alert. Your adversary the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour".
In Africa, East Africa, specifically, to this day among many of the Maasai people, there is a structure that is called a boma that is built out of acacia bushes which are very, very thorny bushes, all around the little community of people and the livestock. So in the evening, the livestock is brought into that boma, into that acacia, those thorny bushes that are all the way around it, and the people come inside by the time the night is falling because that is when the lions are going to prowl. And so often, I just think of it over and over again because I've gotten to see it with my own eyes. And the moment I saw it, I thought, "That, to me, is such a crown of thorns," and I prayed over my family so many times, countless times. Sometimes I even draw it in my journal, just, "Lord, set us in the boma, in the crown of thorns, where the roaring lion may sound shrill in the night but he cannot devour us". Very, very effective protection against lions. That's why they do it. That enclosure.
I don't know about you, I just don't think I saw all of this coming. I don't mean our current circumstances. I think I thought when I was growing up that the reason why I had so much misery in my life was because I'd had so much sin and darkness in my life. It was a total shock to me to grow up and realize that people who had done a whole lot of things right also suffered. It was a total, total astonishment. Because I think we misunderstood life in the den. I think we thought it was where the television was, where the coffee table is, where the remote is. Right there in the safety of our dens, where we can choose our Scripture for our Instagram post tomorrow. And I'm not poking fun of Scriptures on Instagram posts. I'm as blessed by that as you are. I'm just saying, life's not near that sweet when all is said and done. And it's gonna be rare that an Instagram post is gonna be able to save my neck when Satan like a roaring lion is throwing his head back ready to pounce and devour me and devour my family.
Back to Daniel 6 and we'll pick up at verse 19: "At the first light of dawn the king got up and hurried to the lions' den. When he reached the den, he cried out in anguish to Daniel. 'Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you continually serve, been able to rescue you from the lions?' Then Daniel spoke with the king: 'May the king live forever. My God sent his angel and shut the lions' mouth; and they haven't harmed me, for I was found innocent before him. And also before you, Your Majesty, I have not done harm.' The king was overjoyed and gave orders to take Daniel out of the den. When Daniel was brought up from the den, he was found to be unharmed, for he trusted in his God. The king gave the command, and those men who had maliciously accused Daniel were brought and thrown into the lions' den: they, their children, and their wives. They had not reached the bottom of the den before the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones".
What a horrid, horrid thought. Verse 25: "Then King Darius wrote to those of every people, nation, and language who live on the whole earth: 'May your prosperity abound. I issue a decree that in all my royal dominion, people must tremble in fear before the God of Daniel: For he is the living God, and he endures forever; and his kingdom will never be destroyed, and his dominion has no end. He rescues and delivers; he performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on earth, for he has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.' So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian".
Would you conclude the lesson with me in Revelation chapter 5. I'm gonna have you turn that direction and if you've still got your hand in Daniel 6, I wanna show you something. It begins chapter 7 with the vision that comes to Daniel and in the first vision of a worldly empire coming up to power that will oppress the saints. When that beast is described, it says that "four huge beasts came up from the sea, each different from the other". And 7:4 says: "The first was like a lion but had eagle's wings". Over and over again, there is this picture. Even in Revelation 13:2, the infamous beast in Revelation is also depicted with the mouth of a lion. It says: "The dragon gave the beast his power, his throne, and his great authority".
Now, Revelation 5, I'd like to read verses 1 through 5: "Then I saw in the right hand of the one seated on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides, sealed with seven seals. I also saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, 'Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?' But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or even look at it. And I wept and wept because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or even look at it".
I want you to pause there, just a moment. The way I was taught was that this was the title deed to the earth and to all things that concern humanity, and that it meant that if no one could open the scroll, there was no way to know what would happen next, what would be the future of it, was there any future at all? And in all of these years since I was first taught that in my late 20s, I've never seen a better explanation of it than that. But whatever it was, so much hope rested in what was in that scroll that John the Revelator wept and said, "No one was worthy to open the scroll or even look in it". Verse 5: "Then one of the elders said to me, 'Do not weep. Look, the Lion from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered so that he is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.'"
I want you to think about this with me because I told you when I named those four kinds of lions in the Word of God to you, remember? The actual animal species, people as lions, the devil like a roaring lion, and then the Lion of the tribe of Judah. I said, "What do they have in common"? And two things: their might and they are dangerous. So is the Lion of the tribe of Judah dangerous? And I would suggest that yes, he is. That he wreaks havoc on the darkness, that he has conquered sin and the grave, that no prison can keep him in, and no prison can keep him out, that he walks on waves and the winds do his bidding.
That the lightning goes forth at his command and checks back in with him. That he causes rocks to cry out. He spots even the most well hidden of hypocrisies. He is the brazen death of all hopelessness and at his appearance the sky will tear asunder, rolling back like a scroll and his enemies will flee and he will destroy the personification of all evil, violence, and terror. He who is called the lawless one, 2 Thessalonians says that he will destroy the lawless one with the breath of his mouth and bring him to nothing by the sheer appearance of his coming. And at his command, at the command of the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the old order will pass away and he will render a final death blow to all sorrow and sickness.
Is he dangerous? Oh yeah, he is the archenemy of death itself, the enemy of all enmity, the undoing of all injustice, the demise of all lovelessness, and the foe of all wickedness. So bear up, you Daniels in the making, who resolve, who make some decisions in advance of the temptation. For in the end, only one Lion will roar and he is our defender forever.