Towards the end of last year I started thinking about the word ‘breakthrough’. This was prompted in part by the fact that I needed breakthrough in some areas of my personal and work life! So it comes as no surprise that my word for 2018 is – yes you guessed – breakthrough! I am looking forward to studying this concept and experiencing it in my life to a degree I haven’t don in the past. I promise to share what I learn with you when the time is right!
Today I would like to look at a bible story you probably know very well. You can’t get through Sunday school without having heard the story of Daniel and the lions’ den. That this is an example of breakthrough is undeniable and we have much to learn from it.
Daniel was a young Hebrew man who was taken as a prisoner of war to Babylon when Nebuchadnezzar conquered Israel. You could say he was trafficked. Somehow God’s favour rested on Daniel and he ended up being appointed one of three presidents that were second only to King Darius. Here was a Hebrew refugee, occupying a very important position, it was no surprise the other officials were jealous. They cam up with a plot that resulted in Daniel being thrown into a den of lions just because he wouldn’t stop praying to God!
I don’t know the last time you visited a zoo or safari and watched the lions at mealtime. Lions need no invitation when dinner is served. No one expected Daniel to come out of that den alive. Not even King Darius who was so worried about the fate of his young official that he spent the night fasting instead of sleeping. But they hadn’t reckoned with the God of Israel, the Lord of the breakthrough.
I think of the unseen power that literally shut the mouths of those lions. How did He do it? Did He turn off their appetites or make them blind so they couldn’t see Daniel? Or turn off their sense of smell so they couldn’t smell him? Did He surround Daniel with an impenetrable shield that the lions couldn’t get through? I don’t know how God did what He did. Perhaps the ‘how’ is not as important as the ‘what’. Just a few chapters earlier this same God showed up in the fiery furnace where three Hebrew men faced the death penalty. Their crime, they refused to worship the king. Somehow the hot furnace didn’t even leave the smell of smoke on the clothes of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, yet it made toast of the soldiers who had the unfortunate job of making sure the fire was hot enough to ensure the Hebrew men would not emerge alive.
He is the same God today as He was then. No wonder the Bible says nothing is impossible for Him. When I line up my seemingly impossible prayer requests or challenges in front of this God, I can’t help but realise this one thing. My troubles are no match for His omnipotence. The God who shuts the mouths of lions can heal every disease or emotional hurt, open doors locked with the largest bolts, restore broken relationships, provide finances, save family members and whatever else you and I might bring to the prayer closet. He can accomplish all that and more without our needing to lift a finger because He really is all-powerful.
There is one thing He requires from us. Our faith in Him. We read that ‘Daniel was taken out of the den and no manner of harm was found on him because he believed in his God’ (Daniel 6:23). Faith seems to be a biblical requirement we see throughout the Bible. More than anything else, Jesus was impressed by the faith he saw in the people He interacted with and disappointed by the lack of it. The Hebrews Hall of Faith chronicles men and women who accomplished great things because they believed in a God for whom miracles were as easy as ABC.
How are your faith muscles? How are you doing with believing that God can and will fulfil His promises? Physical workouts build muscle, and similarly faith workouts will build spiritual muscle. When you meditate on God’s promises and then act like what you read is true, you build your faith muscles. Faith comes by hearing His voice (Romans 10:17) and the proof that you have really heard is seen in the words you speak and the action you take. Faith in your heart is evidenced by your actions. I doubt that Daniel was howling in fear in the lions’ den. I like to think that he was sitting or lying quietly in one corner, certain in the knowledge that the God he prayed to three times a day would somehow deliver Him.
It is possible to have that same kind of faith; that same confidence that God will always keep His word. It won’t happen overnight, but the more you get to know God through reading about Him in the Bible and allowing what you have read sink deeply into your consciousness, the easier it will be to believe that He is faithful. You’ll become so convinced about His goodness that no circumstance of life can put the slightest dent in that conviction. You’ll see the mouths of lions shut in your life, and fiery furnaces will leave you unmoved.
And the best bit? Others will witness the miracles too, just like the Babylonians did after Daniel emerged from the lions’ den alive.
They will have to acknowledge that your God really is all that He says He is. What an effective evangelism strategy!