I have been reading the book of Daniel lately and have been greatly challenged by the lives of Belteshazzar and his 3 friends Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego (formally known as Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael & Azariah ). These were all men of deep conviction and no compromise, who were forcefully ripped away from their beloved Jerusalem and planted in the heathen nation of Babylon. They were also stripped of their Hebrew names and given new names that exalted foreign gods. It would have made life so much easier for these men if they had simply conformed to the will and practices of their captors but they didn’t. They were able to faithfully serve their Babylonian masters while still remaining faithful to their God. What a testimony they have and what a challenge they bring to our generation.
All four of these men stood out in the crowd and none were found to be equal to them, because God had granted them supernatural knowledge and understanding. Daniel was also given the ability to interpret dreams. They were men of integrity and their adversaries found it impossible to find any fault in them. Only in the matter of their uncompromising faith in God did they manage to trip them up. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were thrown into the fiery furnace because they refused to bow down to the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzer had set up. They knew that God had the power to deliver them, but even if He chose not to, they had firmly decided that they would not compromise their stand. The God of Israel was the only God worthy of their allegiance and not even the threat of death would convince them otherwise. Daniel made the same stand for His God several chapters later and ended up being thrown into the lion`s den. Both stories ended with wonderful deliverances and promotion, but it could have ended differently.
In the book of Hebrews we read about believers who were not delivered when they made a stand for their faith. They were flogged, chained, stoned, put to death by the sword and sawn in two. In Chapter 11:38 we read that ‘the world was not worthy of them’ and I wholeheartedly agree! The words of Jim Elliott resound in my spirit – ‘He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose’. The four men in the book of Daniel and the heroes of our faith, mentioned in Hebrews 11, all understood this!
Prayer: Father God, help us to stand firm in our convictions and be a people who will not compromise on the matters that are really important. You have called us to live in this world but not to conform to its standard. We need Your wisdom as we live in this world and seek to be a blessing to the people You have placed around about us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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