FAITH IN GOD
CHRISTIAN RELIGIOUS STUDIES

FAITH IN GOD

Faith and Courage – Daniel 3:1-30

Faith and trust are interchangeable. Both imply confidence in God’s ability to solve any problem one encounters, abandoning self-interest, self-reliance, arrogance, pride and self trust. Faith implies firmness in one’s confidence in God in the midst of unfavourable situations. It can also mean man’s personal conviction and trust in God arising from a direct spiritual relationship with God. Courage itself implies total boldness, firm stance and fearlessness in the midst of unfavourable circumstances. Perhaps, the lesson on Daniel, Shedrack, Meshack and Abednego will throw more light on faith and courage.

In 598 B.C when Nebuchadnezzar over-ran Judah and took its people to exile in Babylon, among the youngmen taken to Babylon were Daniel, Hannaniah, Mishael and Azariah, whom Nebuchadnezzar renamed Belteshazzar, Shadrack, Meshack and Abednego respectively.

As luck and providence would have it, these four gentlemen found favour in the eyes of the king and they were detailed to serve in his palace. However, these three Jews remained steadfast, loyal and faithful to God, refusing to eat the royal food given them in the palace. As a Jew, certain foods are prohibited because they are unclean. Despite the fact that they are in exile, they decided not to violate their religious norms.

As a result of their wisdom and devotion to duty, they were elevated to positions of responsibility. Daniel was given the ability to interpret dreams, a rare wisdom and spiritual gift given to him by God which further endeared him to the king as well as enhanced his status in the palace. Daniel remained in the king’s court, where he influenced the appointment of Shedrack, Meshack and Abednego over the affairs of the Babylonian provinces (Daniel 2:49).

Daniel was able to interpret King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream after every other wiseman in Babylon had failed to do so. As a result of this, the king made Daniel the ruler of the whole province of Babylon and over all the wisemen of Babylon. This made Daniel rise above the other two presidents.

Nebuchadnezzar made a great golden image and summoned all under his authority to assemble for the dedication of the image, a ceremony accompanied by the blast of sophisticated musical instruments, at the sound of which, all must bow down and worship the image. For anybody who disobeyed the king, the decree by Nebuchadnezzar was that such a person would be cast into an already prepared furnace.

In obedience to the king’s decree, at the sound of the musical instrument, everyone bowed, fell on their faces and worshipped the image, except Shadrack, Meshack and Abednego. Therefore, their fellow officers reported them to the king. Nebuchadnezzar was furious and ordered the three gentlemen to be brought before him. He asked whether the charge was true which the three Jews confirmed. He gave them a second chance to worship the image, but their reply was:

Oh Nebuchadnezzar we have no need to answer you in this matter. If it be so,our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace; and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image which you have set up.” (Daniel 3:16-18)

What a display of faith and courage. The three Jews had openly and impunitively challenged the king’s authority. They were more than convinced that their God would deliver them. So the king ordered that the furnace be heated seven times more, apparently, to see if the three Jews will change their minds. The furnace became so hot that the people who threw the three Jews into it, were burnt alive.

However, to the surprise of all present, four men were seen walking in the fire unhurt, with the fourth looking like “the son of God”. (Daniel 3:25) He asked his counsellors: were there not three men in the furnace, where then does the fourth-looking like the Son of God came from? He went near the furnace and called on Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to come out. He blessed God for their rescue, and ordered that throughout his kingdom, no one should worship any other god except the God of Shedrack, Meshack and Abednego:

“… any people, nation or language that speaks anything against the God of Shedrack, Meshack and Abednego shall be torn limb from limb and their houses laid in ruins; for there is no other god who is able to deliver in this way”. (Daniel 3:29)

 

Faith and Power -Daniel 6: 1-28

The story of Daniel is similar to the story of Shedrack, Meshack and Abednego in terms of the display of faith and courage by these children of God.

King Darius of Babylon divided his kingdom into a hundred and twenty satraps (governors) with only three presidents appointed to oversee all. Daniel, by a divine act of God was one. Besides, he was the most favoured of the three presidents. As a result, his colleagues were full of jealousy and plotted to destroy him. Finding nothing on which to pin Daniel down, they moved to the king and compelled him to make a law that no one, for thirty days should ask anything from God or man, except from the king. The penalty was casting the culprit into the lions’ den.

King Darius obliged them and made the decree, not knowing it was all a plot to rope someone in. Of course, Daniel disregarded the law and prayed in his house three times daily, giving thanks to God. His enemies caught him, having been keeping surveillance over his house and reported him straight away to the king. The king looked for a way to free Daniel, but the enemies reminded him that right from time immemorial, the laws of Mede and Persia were unchangeable.

Against his wish therefore, the king cast Daniel into the den of lions, but prayed for Daniel, for God to deliver him and could not sleep all-night. Early the following morning, the king rose and came to the den to see if Daniel was dead or alive. With a loud voice, called Daniel: “O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually been able to deliver you from the Daniel answered the king thus:

“O king, live for ever! My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths and they have not hurt me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you O king, I have done no wrong.” (Daniel 6:21-22).

The king was very happy and immediately ordered that Daniel be brought out. By now, the king was convinced that it was all a plot against Daniel.

The immediate reaction of the king was to commend Daniel’s God. He decreed that throughout his kingdom, everyone should worship only the God of Daniel:

Then King Darius wrote to all people, nations and languages, that dwell in all the earth … “I make a decree that in all my royal dominion, men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel, for He is the living God and enduring for ever, his kingdom shall never be destroyed, and his dominion shall be to the end. He delivers and rescues and he works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth, he who has saved Daniel from the power of the lions.” (Daniel 6:25-27).

As punishment, the king ordered that Daniel’s accusers be cast into the lions’ den. Their bones were crushed by the lions. Theirs and those of all their families.

 

Lessons to Learn From the Faith and Courage of Daniel, Shedrack, Meshack and Abednego

  1. The first lesson here is that God always delivers his people from their enemies.
  2. False accusers will never go unpunished because the bible says we should not bear false witness against our neighbours. Daniel’s false accusers were meant to die.
  3. Our faith in God can have effect on others around us. The faith of Shedrack, Meshack and Abednego made all Babylon to begin to worship God. The same goes for Daniel – Darius recommended the God of Daniel to all his provinces.
  4. For God to rise to our protection, we must have absolute faith in him, as well as be upright like Daniel, Shedrack, Meshack and Abednego.
  5. Daniel’s faith was an opportunity for God to be made manifest to all people. As a result of our faith and actions, God can be glorified. Nebuchadnezzar and Darius glorified God because God rose to the protection of his people.
  6. Envy and malice lead to destruction. We should learn not to bear malice or envy others because of their success. Instead, we should rejoice with others over their success. Truth always prevails.
  7. Let us not be afraid to proclaim our faith in God or to defend our allegiance to God, even in danger, just as exhibited by Daniel, Shedrack, Meshack and Abednego.
  8. No matter how much we are threatened by our tormentors, we should stand firm and trust God. Nebuchadnezzar kindled the burning furnace seven times, thinking that he will frighten the three gentlemen to change their mind. But they stood firm.
  9. He who digs a pit, into it he will fall – evil befalls evil doers.
  10. There is reward for serving God faithfully.

 

Summary

  1. The arm of flesh will forever fail man, but he who has total trust in God can never be disappointed as illustrated in the above stories.
  2. However, sometimes, God deliberately allows us to see or undergo serious difficulties just to see if we will backslide.
  3. If we remain steadfast, God will always come to our rescue.
  4. Our trust and faith in God cannot be known when everything is going well for us, but when we face crisis.
  5. For believers, even if we fall into the valley of the shadow of death, we should not fear any evil, for God is always with us.
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