Chapter six opens with a new king, Darius, reorganizing the political system of Babylon into 120 provinces, with plans to make Daniel the Prime Minister over them all. Some of the other rulers become jealous of Daniel’s influence in the new government and conspire to bring him down.
Knowing that there are no grounds to impeach Daniel they set a trap. The rulers go to Darius and claim that all the other leaders want to make the King the only mediator between the gods and the citizens of their kingdom for thirty days. Very much like Nebuchadnezzar commanded in Daniel 3 everyone was required to worship in Darius’ name only. And if anyone was guilty of this crime, the solution was a “trial by lions.” If they were eaten, obviously, they were traitors, deserved their punishment, and King Darius is proved to be the divine King over Babylon. Flattered, Darius agrees without noticing Daniel is not among these conspirators.
When Daniel hears about the decree his first response is to pray. Not to Darius, but towards Jerusalem, where the temple once stood, and where priests once stood as the true mediators between God and men. The jealous officials spy Daniel’s prayer and go to the King. They remind him that the laws of the Medes and the Persians cannot be broken, and by his own law Daniel must be thrown to the lions. So Daniel is, and the king seals the tomb himself.
Darius spends the night awake, angry at the conspirators and anxious for Daniel. But Daniel slept like a king of beasts since God decided he was not guilty of breaking any law, shutting the lion’s mouths because Daniel trusted in God. The conspirators who were found guilty of the treason they tried to frame Daniel for were eaten by the lions.
The law of the Medes and Persians cannot stand against Daniel’s God. So in response King Darius pens a global edict proclaiming Daniel’s God as worthy of more worship than he is (effectively reversing his first edict). Daniel’s God is a living God whose kingdom will never end and whose defining feature is that He delivers and rescues his people with signs and wonders.
Jesus is the only Mediator
The book of Daniel has one main point. God is more powerful than earthly kings. No matter how powerful the ruler, or unalterable the law is, God’s power, God’s decrees, and God’s chosen people will always win. And when someone tries to posture themselves as if they are an equal with God, they will be humbled.
In Daniel’s day when someone wanted to make sure God heard their prayers they would go through somebody who was “closer” to God and could vouch for or authenticate their prayers. Darius’ decree made himself out to be that person. It was only in Darius’ name that you could be sure your prayers were heard. Praying in his name meant you trusted him most to bring about the thing you asked for.
Over and over we’re told that Daniel trusted in God. And we see that most clearly when he prayed towards the temple in Jerusalem even though Darius decreed to pray only to him. Daniel trusted that there was only one place to find an answer to prayer, it was in God’s temple. But when Daniel was in Babylon the temple was destroyed. There would have been no priests to mediate his request for rescue from the lion’s den. Daniel was trusting in a mediator to come. He was trusting in Jesus - the only Mediator between God and man (1 Tim 2:5) - even if he didn’t know his name.
And just like the priests in the temple would mediate relationship with God through sacrifices Jesus does the same (1 Tim 2:6). He ransoms our relationship not through the death of animals at human hands, but through his own death at the hands of humans who acted like animals.
Just like the jealous conspirators in Daniel, the jealous Pharisees want Jesus to be torn to shreds at the hands of the Romans. And like with Daniel, they set up a conspiratorial trial that ends with a false verdict of “guilty” and a stone being rolled over a tomb. And Jesus, just like Daniel, was raised out of the tomb because he was found “blameless by God” (Dan 6:22).
And because Jesus was found blameless he is able to be our perfect mediator. Perfectly giving his blameless life to us so we can always confidently pray for whatever we need, without the need for middlemen. (2 Cor 5:21, Heb 4:16). And Just like Daniel was saved from the lions by “trusting in God’” (Dan 6:26) we are saved the same way - when we pray in “Jesus’ name,” alone.