When I ordered from a clearance website that offered a deal of “$25 each when you buy three pairs of Ray-Bans,” I should have had some clue that something sinister was afoot. Then, when they took three months to get to my house, and the box looked like it had been dragged through China by a mule, that should have been my second clue.
But when I opened the box, the sunglasses actually looked good. In fact, in some ways, I liked the color and design better than the genuine pair of Ray-Bans I now own.
Then, I put the cheap ones on. They just didn’t feel right. The metal felt brittle; the view wasn’t as clear. Sure enough, they were shoddy counterfeits. I had wasted $75. (Or, you could say, I learned something valuable for the low, low price of $75.)
Only One Kingdom Brings Miracles With It
One of the themes of the book of Daniel is how God distinguishes his kingdom from counterfeit ones. Unlike most other Old Testament books, Daniel wrote his book outside the confines of Israel. The book is about how to live wisely in a place where God is not respected, in a culture where everyone around us lives by different values and sees us as not just odd but a threat to the current regime. It shows us how to not just survive in that kind of environment but how to thrive, living as witnesses there and leading many to righteousness.
Daniel gained influence as an exile in Babylon by earning King Nebuchadnezzar’s favor when he was the only one who could interpret the king’s dream. In fact, he was the only one who, with God’s help, could tell the king what his dream was, which gives us an important principle for shining in Babylon: God supernaturally validates his message and distinguishes his kingdom from all the fake ones.
With Daniel, that happened through the supernatural revelation of a dream. But think of all the other ways this happens in Scripture: In Mark 2, when the religious leaders told Jesus that nobody can forgive sins but God, Jesus replies, “I can make this lame man walk, which proves I have the power of God to forgive sins, too.” Of course, the ultimate miracle that proved Jesus’ power was the resurrection. That is something no other religious guru or wise man has ever been able to do.
This supernatural verification continues in the ministry of the Apostles, whose writings God validated through signs and wonders: The gospel “was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit” (Hebrews 2:3–4 ESV).
Miraculous Validation in the 21st Century
Today, our experience of this is different, because we have a completed Bible, but the Apostle Paul still points to supernatural power at work in his preaching that validates this message is from God. For example, Paul says to the Corinthians, “My speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of wisdom but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not be based on human wisdom but on God’s power” (1 Corinthians 2:4–5 CSB). In 1 Corinthians 14:25, Paul talks about an unbeliever coming into a church setting where believers begin to use the gift of prophecy to call out and pray for what is going on in his heart. And as they do that, “The secrets of his heart will be revealed, and as a result he will fall facedown and worship God, proclaiming, ‘God is really among you.’”
Still today, God sometimes validates the message through supernatural dreams and visions. If you spend any time overseas among Christians who work with Muslims, you will be inundated with stories of Muslims who have come to faith in Christ through dreams and visions.
The New Testament writer James tells us that God validates his messengers through answers to prayer, and he points to the example of Elijah. When Elijah wanted to prove to Israel who the true God was, God (Jehovah) or Ba’al, he used the test of answered prayer: “Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the LORD. The God who answers with fire, he is God” (1 Kings 18:24). This is one of the reasons prayer should define our ministries in the church. We don’t just pray in preparation for the ministry; prayer is the ministry. It is part of the validation of our message.
Spirit-fueled changes in your life also validate this gospel is from God. Paul said, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17). When you are born again, God gives you a new heart and love for him, a desire to be close to him through his Word, a love for God’s people, and a hatred for sin. Those are things that can’t be produced by religion, and that’s proof it is from God.
When you are born again, God gives you a new heart and love for him, a desire to be close to him through his Word, a love for God’s people, and a hatred for sin. Those are things that can’t be produced by religion, and that’s proof it is from God.
God intends to make you shine as an exile in Babylon, in whatever place he has put you on this earth to stand out, to distinguish the truth of his message from the counterfeits all around you by supernatural outpourings of power.
Yes, he still does this today. He is ready to do it through you, if you look for it and ask him for it.