3:29, "There I make a decree, That every people, nation, and
language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and
their houses shall be made a dunghill: because there is no
other God that can deliver after this sort."
morning, children of God have varying circumstances, some of
which are their own doing, while others are outside of their
control. Living in America all my life, I have been blessed
by many things that I had no control over bringing to pass
nor maintaining. Truly, those of us living in this land have
been blessed to live with freedom and liberty that are
unknown to countless multitudes of God's children in other
places and at other times. Not the least of these is
religious liberty and freedom. There has never been an
occasion during the scope of my life that I have worried
about being killed or jailed for going to church, preaching,
reading my Bible, etc. This great blessing is -
unfortunately - underrated by many in this land due to the
fact that we have never known anything else. Without any
kind of comparison or contrast in our personal lives, we
live many days just assuming that this circumstance will
continue upon us. There is no promise in Scripture that it
is guaranteed. We do not have to worry over our eternal home
when this life is over as that has been promised to us
unconditionally. (I Thessalonians 5:9-10) However, blessings
like religious liberty are contingent upon our steadfastness
like many other promises are. (Isaiah 1:19-20)
Sometimes when I read the Bible, I will come across
something that reaches out and slaps me and makes me think,
"Where was that all those times I have been through here
before?" In point of fact, it has been there all the time,
but I just saw it. The verse before us is one such example.
Though I have studied the contents of Daniel 3 numerous
times, this particular thought had escaped me. The context
of this lesson is that Daniel's 3 friends Hananiah, Mishael,
and Azariah were faithful to the Lord by not bowing down to
the image that king Nebuchadnezzar had set up. Due to their
obedience, the king had them thrown into a burning fiery
furnace for their disobedience to him. The Lord delivered
them from the fire, and upon their emergence, the king was
dumbfounded about the series of events. He knew they threw 3
in, but he saw a 4th in the person of Jesus Christ. When
they came out, they not only were not harmed but did not
even have the smell of smoke on them or have a single hair
singed. God's providential deliverance was so manifest that
the king makes the decree in our study verse.
the king was still lacking in his knowledge of God like he
was at the end of chapter 2, but he still says something in
this verse that is grand to consider. Though Daniel and his
3 friends were promoted to great honour in the land of
Babylon, they were still members of a subservient people at
this time. The nation of Judah had been delivered into
Babylonian captivity for 70 years due to their prolonged
disobedience. Some of the captives - like Ezekiel - were
regulated to the labour camps, while others - like Jeremiah
- were left in the ruins of Judah to keep and dress the land
for the king. Daniel's story tells of life for some of the
more well favored captives that were taken into the palace
to be counselors to the king amongst his other wise men.
This position allowed them the opportunity to serve in
faithfulness in a more manifest way leading to more manifest
blessings that not only affected themselves but their entire
race and nation.
Nebuchadnezzar's decree did not give the glory to God that
his declaration would at the end of chapter 4, but he still
uses his authority in a very unusual way. He not only
promotes these youths, but he decrees that their God can be
worshipped without recrimination. No one that served the
Lord God of Israel would have to fear for their wellbeing in
worshipping Him. Anyone who gave them grief over their
religion stood in jeopardy from the king himself. Their
lives would be in danger as well as their whole house being
made a ruin. Consider the situation. This nation is captive.
They are bound to the law of the Babylonians that ruled over
them. Any Jew that tried to live in accord to the heritage
of their Jewish worship could be in jeopardy for doing so.
Yet, due to the faithfulness of 3 Jewish youths in not
participating in idolatry, the roles were reversed.
Babylonians would be in danger and peril for speaking
against those that they ruled over. Surely this circumstance
is rare in the annals of human history. Human history is
full of stories of the rulers making the rules for the ones
they rule over. This story has one of the rulers setting the
rules in favor of those ruled over.
When this lesson reached out and slapped me, it caused me to
reflect in great consideration about things to come.
Doubtless we in this country see our freedoms and liberties
eroding away daily, and without Divine Intervention we will
surely see changes in my lifetime that could not be imagined
30-50 years ago. The time may come when my life is in
jeopardy for preaching my convictions. It could become a
crime against the state to preach "Thus saith the Lord..."
However, in my previous considerations, I had always thought
that if that day came we would end up being more like John
the Baptist than this situation. John the Baptist preached
his convictions and lost his head over it. Such could still
end up being the case. However, this lesson shows that it
does not have to be that way.
This lesson teaches us that if God's faithful few will
remain steadfast in their convictions great things can
happen not only for us but others that we know and love.
Thousands of Jews were blessed by the efforts of 3. Their
efforts granted freedom and liberty that the slaves that
Ezekiel ministered unto could probably not imagine would
ever come. If I was chained to a rock working from sunup to
sundown, I would not expect my masters to give me liberty
and freedom for religion or anything else. But, to hear a
decree that put my masters' lives in jeopardy from
preventing me from calling upon God would be great mercy in
my difficult circumstance. No, I do not know the future, but
this lesson shows what could be our case even in the midst
of hard times. If we find ourselves in a type of bondage,
faithfulness should still remain and abide with us. It
blessed Daniel a couple of chapters later in a den of lions.
It blessed these three in a burning fiery furnace. However,
it blessed so many others as well.
hard times come, we may be delivered out of them into our
abiding home in heaven, or we may be delivered through them
as these 3 were. The good news is that deliverance comes
either way. They said as much to the king in verses 16-18.
They did not know whether they would be delivered from the
fire. But they knew 2 things: 1. God was able and 2. They
would be delivered - one way or another. If the fire took
their lives, they went to heaven where the king could not
touch them. If they were taken out of the fire, they were
delivered from the king in that his word could not harm
them. We should look at the uncertain future the same way. I
do not know if I will be delivered from the evils that are
coming, but I know that God is able and that I will be
delivered one way or another. By remaining steadfast through
this knowledge, we may end up blessing ourselves and others
with liberty and freedom unimaginable in those difficult
circumstances. However, for the time now present, let us
spend time in fervent thanksgiving to God that we still have
this liberty. He has been so good to us to bless us with it
all these years. May His mercy abide with us so that our
lives and those of our children and others following after
us would have these things and be faithful in them.