If Disneyland is the happiest place on earth, Christmas must be the happiest time on earth! Or is it? Behold—stress, anxiety, frustration, packed malls, World War 3! Where is the Prince of Peace in the midst of it all, or is He in the midst of it all…at all? What’s the problem? What’s the remedy? One Word!
December 29, 2021
When Daniel was cast into a den of lions, the mouth of the den was sealed. His fate was also sealed, because that meant that there was no way of escape. But there didn’t need to be a way of escape, because divine intervention instead sealed the lions’ mouths. This happened because Daniel trusted in God with a childlike simplicity. Thousands of years later, this courageous man still shines as a testament to unwavering faith in God.
When the Apostle Paul spoke of waiting in Ephesus, he said that a great and effective door had opened to him. Then he added the sobering words “and there are many adversaries” (see 1 Corinthians 16:8-9). Whenever God opens a door, we too can expect to face “many adversaries”—many ferocious lions that can terrify us…if we let them. These battles with fear help us to identify with Paul’s observation, “Outside were conflicts, inside were fears” (2 Corinthians 7:5).
These are dark days in which the Christian faces daunting lions; never-ending conflicts—with the issues of abortion, pornography, homosexuality, adultery, fornication, blasphemy, and an epidemic of suicide. Iniquity certainly abounds as we look into a frightening, uncertain future in a very turbulent world. Sometimes the future seems like a blur.
“However, the moment we turn around through repentance and faith in Jesus, God is no longer against us.”
The sun had just risen on a clear day in Southern California. I was driving directly into it, and it was blinding. I couldn’t see anything through my windshield. I slowed to a snail’s pace, rolled down the window and leaned out of the car. It was still too bright to see. So I pulled over to the side of the road and wiped the windshield clear of any dirt. That didn’t help. The only way I could safely go forward was to move into the shade of trees on the side of the road. That gave me some relief, but it was still limited. The sun was not only annoying, it was dangerous. Driving into its light was not a pleasant experience.
About an hour later, I had to drive back to the ministry. This time the sun was directly behind me. Everything I looked at was clear and sharp. This was because the light was no longer against me. It was now making my way clear and making driving a very pleasant experience.
So it is with God. When we look at life through the stain of sin, the very thought of Him is unpleasant. This is because we love the darkness and hate the light (see John 3:19). However, the moment we turn around through repentance and faith in Jesus, God is no longer against us. He is for us—and because of His light we see all things clearly.
If, like Daniel, we have fully turned to the Lord and laid our souls on the altar of sacrifice, we will always know the direction God wants us to take. It is to follow the light of the world—Jesus—and seek and save that which is lost. Those who present themselves as living sacrifices can look into the teeth of adversity and say, “Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word…” (Acts 4:29).
One can’t help but think of Daniel when the Apostle Paul spoke of being delivered out of the mouth of a lion:
“But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear. Also, I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.” (2 Timothy 4:17)
“Through faith in Jesus, we have been delivered from him who walks about as a roaring lion, and from the ultimate devouring lion, death itself.”
It has been said that (as a Roman citizen) it wasn’t lawful for Paul to be executed by being thrown to lions. Therefore, he must not have been speaking literally. Elliott’s commentary says of the passage:
“And I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.” Expositors have, in all ages, dwelt much on the question, “Who was to be understood under the figure of the lion?” The fathers mostly believe the Emperor Nero was here alluded to. Others have suggested that St. Paul was referring to the “lions” of the amphitheatre, from whom, at all events for the time, he had been delivered. It is, however, best to understand the expression as a figurative expression for extreme danger.1
Whatever the case, through faith in Jesus, we have been delivered from him who walks about as a roaring lion, and from the ultimate devouring lion, death itself. That’s our glorious victory. Meanwhile, until the trumpet sounds, we must continue to fight the good fight of faith—a fight in which we desperately need more warriors. Hebrews 11 is an open chapter. By the grace of God, may our names be added to it.
- Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers (https://biblehub.com/commentaries/2_timothy/4-17.htm)