The Expendable Wicked
(Daniel 6:23) Then was the king exceeding glad for him, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no manner of hurt was found upon him, because he believed in his God. (Daniel 6:24) And the king commanded, and they brought those men which had accused Daniel, and they cast them into the den of lions, them, their children, and their wives; and the lions had the mastery of them, and brake all their bones in pieces or ever they came at the bottom of the den. A hymn-writer (Elder J. Harvey Daily) wrote, “When Daniel faithful to His God would not bow down to men, and by his enemies was hurled into the lion's [sic] den, God shut the lion's [sic] mouths, we read, and robbed them of their prey....” What the hymn-writer did not enlarge upon is this incredible turn of events (our text) which followed Daniel's deliverance. It is a profound example of something that Solomon noted in his proverbs: (Proverbs 11:8) The righteous is delivered out of trouble, and the wicked cometh in his stead. It may be observed: 1) As here, there are temporal salvations (deliverance = salvation, JOEL 2:32 c/w ACT 2:21) which God works for His beloved people; He commands “...deliverances for Jacob” (PSA 44:4), especially for those who in faith call upon His name (PSA 34:6 c/w ROM 10:13). 2) God is well-pleased to take the wise in their own craftiness (1CO 3:19) and to make the wicked fall into the pit they dug for others (PRO 26:27; PSA 7:15-16). Daniel's deliverance at the expense of the wicked is a glorious case of the working of God's vengeance against those who presume to molest the apple of His eye. It is not only at the Great Judgment at the Second Coming that the righteous are delivered and the wicked come in their stead to trouble (MAT 25:31-46); it is sometimes in the present life. Mordecai was saved from the gallows which wicked Haman had built for him, and “...they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai” (EST 7:10). Peter was delivered from impending death in prison, his keepers were then slain instead and Herod soon died a grisly death (ACT 12:1-23). The children of Israel were saved from the waters of the Red Sea but their Egyptian pursuers were drowned therein (HEB 11:29). So beloved, so precious are His saints in God's eyes, that He gives men for them: (Isaiah 43:3) For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee. (Isaiah 43:4) Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life. Believers, be humbled. Be thankful. You are loved so greatly that God would slay others in your stead. At times when God's people may think themselves utterly lost and swallowed up by the hateful horde, God can still flex His mighty arm and turn the tables on the oppressor. It was to New Testament Christians that Paul wrote, “Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you;” (2TH 1:6). The chorus of the hymn says, “And the God that lived in the olden times is just the same today.” Exactly. God says, “For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed” (MAL 3:6). The following verse concurs with our theme and demands special attention: (Proverbs 21:18) The wicked shall be a ransom for the righteous, and the transgressor for the upright. In the case of the elect's eternal salvation, the righteous Jesus Christ (1JO 2:1) became a ransom for the wicked (us). But in the great transaction of the cross, Christ legally became “the wicked” when He bore our sins and we (who by nature are unrighteous, ROM 3:9-10) were declared righteous in Him (2CO 5:21). He gave “...his life a ransom for many” (MAT 20:28). He was “...numbered with the transgressors” (ISA 53:12). Solomon may not have specifically been thinking of Christ when he penned PRO 11:8 and PRO 21:18, but he was a prophet who prophesied under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (2TI 3:16; 2PE 1:21). What Solomon wrote certainly applies to temporal salvations of which he no doubt had plenty of examples by history and observation, but the Spirit could see the great eternal salvation in Christ that richly realized his words: (1 Peter 1:10) Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: (1 Peter 1:11) Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. (1 Peter 1:12) Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.