Being a HUGE softie at heart, I will never forget having to walk my only daughter down the aisle of our local church.
As much as I thought I had prepared for that big day when we arrived at the door and I saw all those people I suddenly wanted to hold her close, slam the door and take off down the nearest street hauling her, the bouquet of flowers, veil and wedding dress flying in the breeze and me yelling at the top of my voice I’VE CHANGED MY MIND – I’VE CHANGED MY MIND!
I really didn’t want to ‘give her away’ to some young lad with long hair and hardly able to even shave- she was mine and I didn’t want to let her go.
Our son got married in the next few weeks after his sister, so we lost both of our kids in the same year. It’s tough being a parent and having to say goodbye to your children and handing them over to someone else and then having to take a backseat, Parenthood isn’t for sissies!
Daniel of the Old Testament was torn from his home never to return when he was only 12 or 13 years old – shuffled off to Babylon THE worst place in the whole ancient world. I can just imagine what his parents went through – must have been horrendous! No wonder Jonah chickened out!
The ancient History encyclopedia tells me that Babylon, whose ruins still lie in modern day Iraq is 94k’s southwest of of Baghdad.
Babylon is thought to mean GATE OF THE GODS and it was probably just that, worshiping anything and everything except the REAL God, the Babylonians believed in child sacrifice, prostitution of both male and female slaves and regular public executions of prisoners unable to work as slaves.
Babylon was also a huge place of learning and when Daniel was wrenched from his family on arriving in that despot of a city after 800 miles or 1300 km’s, to whatever their fate was going to be, he was enrolled in an intensive three year training program designed to transform young men of his age into loyal Babylonians bureaucrats.
It worked to a degree I guess – Daniel and his mates received a remarkable education and looking back Daniel was used mightily by God.
Old King Nebuchadnezzar was an anxious type of person prone to sudden rages and spur of the moment decisions that had huge ramifications across the ancient world – he is renowned even today of making often frightening decisions that changed the face of the ancients and of history.
He was a cruel king and had a malicious and frightening persona that had the whole empire trembling so when he said it was law and recorded as such there was absolutely no turning back from that ruling and not even he could alter it – it was like it was written in stone – no erasing and no altering.
So into this incredible situation comes Daniel and his three friends Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Three young blokes from Israel – captured and marched off to be trained in the ways of Babylon and to become sort of Palace Dog bodies for all and sundry around the place.
We all know the stories so well, the bow or burn incident, the writing on wall, the mocking then the SHOCKING. Then Daniel – on the menu of the lions club. – it makes such interesting reading, but what blows me away was the sheer force of Daniel and his friends faith in God.
Daniel and his friends believed in five amazing words and they were EVEN IF GOD DOES NOT!!
These five words spoke to me so much because they represented a faith SO BIG and SO EXTREME with these four young blokes in Babylon all those years ago.
Obeying God because you know he’s powerful enough to rescue you from any situation is one thing, but obeying Him when you know there is a real chance you will be horribly burned to death or torn apart by ferocious lions is quite another.
How EXTREME is your faithfulness? How EXTREME is mine? Just how much are we willing to sacrifice and be obedient to God? Would we give up our job, money, security or even be prepared to lay down our lives if God asked? God is able to save us but even if He does not, does your faith, does my faith extend that far?
Daniel’s scheming colleagues in that scary/terrifying palace so long ago kept a close lookout on his personal life and all they found was consistent faith. They were so determined to get rid of him so they used they only thing they could use to undermine him to the king and that was his faith.
We all know the story of Daniel chapters 3-6 so well – the scheming of the baddies – the buttering up of the priggish, vain and braggadocio King, the accusations leveled at Daniel and his three mates, The blazing furnace, the intimidating and petrifying den of lions, the facing of horrendous deaths and the sheer bravery of those four young men as they came face to face with their last mortal breaths on earth.
What a shock for those vain and egotistic palace floor scrapers to the king and his image and what a shock to the king himself – the furnace heated up seven times hotter than usual, the very soldiers who threw the young guys in were themselves overpowered by the sheer force of the heat coming from furnace, then to top it all off four people in the blazing furnace instead of three and they weren’t even singed or smelt of fire.
Then Daniel served up to the lions, poor bloke what an end awaited for him. He was chucked in, the roaring of the lions suddenly stopped, the beasts couldn’t open their mouths, lockjaw was rampant in the den all through the night, Daniel saved and his accusers and their whole families thrown into the den in Daniel’s place, Lockjaw suddenly cured and the lions feasted!
Grisly story indeed, but hey, how amazing is our God, How faithful to those of us who stand firm in our faith!
A few questions remain for me:-
What do people see in our lives that tells them we’re serious about our walk with God?
Are we showing Christlike compassion and concern when we interact with others?
Can others spot in us our main priorities which are way out of step with the rest of society?
Can others see acts of service that come from our hearts and not necessarily from our pockets or from some desire to gain “brownie points”.
Can others see in us people who do not flinch when names like “Jesus Freaks” and “Bible Bashers” are directed at us?
All these questions are just a smidgen of what Daniel and his three mates went through yet they didn’t flinch or deny their faith – they went all the way with God regardless of what the outcome was going to be. Jesus of course did the same and we as His followers should have the same outlook and desire to be more and more like Him in every way possible.
Daniel and the lions is a story we never grow weary of hearing. I’ve always been impressed by it because Daniel was not thrown into that putrid cave/den for some wicked crime but for being Godly. We expect to be punished for our wrongdoings and when we do right we expect to be praised or promoted. That is certainly the ideal, but it doesn’t always work out like that. Sometimes those who do wrong are rewarded and those who do right are persecuted.
Especially in today’s world where it seems right is wrong and wrong is right in fact there seems no right or wrong instead I feel it’s a pain and pleasure world.
After thinking about Daniel the main question remains for me and that is HOW AM I AT FACING MY BIG CATS? Would I capitulate, give in to pressure and join the rest of those willing to throw the faithful into the blazing furnace or into a pride of lions?
Where does my hope lie? Where does yours? Something really serious to think about this week and may God bless you as you do.
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