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Stopped By The Mouth Of Lions

by Paul Merideth

PaulMerideth  In Daniel chapter 6 we have record of the well-known occasion when, although being plunged into a pit with hungry lions, Daniel was divinely protected and emerged without a scratch. It is important that we clue in to two things about this passage. First, God is sovereign and he reigns over the affairs of humanity. Second, Daniel evidenced a kind of faith that we would do well to emulate today.

Remember that Daniels’s faith was no mere parade of pseudo piety. He was praying to God in violation of the new law of the Medes and Persians. Consequently, his enemies secure his arrest and manipulate for his execution. They appear to have won. But, in true divine style we have a dramatic reversal. By the way, you know that’s a major motif in scripture don’t you; God absolutely loves a scenario that seems hopeless and then He acts to change the situation. This is one of the amazing ways that God is training us to trust. What do you do when you suddenly find yourself in front of a hungry lion with nowhere to run? Trust! Jesus may ask on the shore “How’s your faith?” and you say, “Well and strong!” But in the rocking boat with savage waves and a pitch black sky above our response is a bit more timid. Hence, Jesus teaches, “Oh you of little faith.” Daniel, though sentenced to die a vicious and savage death, emerges the next morning unscathed.

Then moving in time along God’s redemptive historical unfolding, Daniel appears as a sermon illustration in Hebrews 11:33. In fact, this whole chapter in Hebrews is part of an ongoing point about faith. However, there is a specific lesson here beyond just “trust.” It would be, “believe in the atoning work of Jesus Christ to save you.” You see, the Hebrews’ writer is preaching a sermon about Jesus and he’s tapping into Old Testament examples to make his point. He is building his case – if they did that then look at what we can do.

Here’s what faith can do. Faith is a practical confidence in supernatural power. Faith is the mark of the true disciple. Faith does not mean you’re unreasonably naïve. It is an expression of trust & devotion. In Matthew 14, Peter’s water walk, Peter’s faith was realized the moment he shifted his weight onto the water. He took a dynamic step of faith. Daniel’s faith was a trust in action which was grounded on relationship with God. You see, there’s relationship in faith as well. We all need this movement of trust going out to, and laying hold of, the object of its confidence (Heb. 11:1,6). Faith is the sense of self-renouncing, trustful reliance upon God, the attitude of heart of which faithfulness is the natural expression (Eph. 2:8; Jam. 2:17-26).

So, what do we make of this faith to shut the mouths of lions? Well, for starters we need to understand that we too participate in this privileged faith. Daniel’s faith was not alien nor extinct. Rather, that same faith is for us also. Therefore, acquire this faith and live it.

The Hebrews writer appeals to dramatic example of the past in order to motivate us to have true faith in Christ. Just as faith demanded radical trust (unblinking belief even when face to face with life’s lions) of the people of God throughout the ages, so also we must have trust in God’s agency of faith. “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17).

 

                                           Paul N. Merideth teaches Bible at Ohio Valley University in Vienna, WV




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Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.

2 corinthians 1:3-4