How strong is your faith? What will you do during intense times of testing? Do you try to make wise decisions while standing firm in your faith? Are you willing to risk it all to do what’s right? Are you willing to outwardly practice your faith even if you know you might die? Do you outwardly pretend to submit to man’s authority even if it is in total opposition to your faith and what you know you should be doing? Would we reply to the authorities as Peter and John responded: “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him” (Acts 4:19)? Or would we go along outwardly denying our faith and justifying our actions? While praying that we will live with steadfast faith in Christ Jesus let us look to the Scripture and to a true saint that has gone before us.
Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, has besieged Jerusalem and carried off “some of the articles from the temple of God…to the temple of his god in Babylonia and put in the treasure house of his god. Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring into the king’s service some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility—young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace. He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians. The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king’s service. Among those who were chosen were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego.But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.Now God had caused the official to show favor and compassion to Daniel, but the official told Daniel, ‘I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head because of you.’ Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official … ‘Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.’ So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days. At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food.So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead. To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds. At the end of the time set by the king…talked with them, and he found none equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah; so they entered the king’s service. In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom.” (Dan 1:1-20 NIV). Praise be to God!! Daniel and his friends remained faithful and God blessed them.
Several years later after Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar, his son have died “Darius the Mede took over the kingdom” (Dan 5:30 NIV). Once again, Daniel underwent extreme testing of his faith. “It pleased Darius to appoint 120 satraps to rule throughout the kingdom, with three administrators over them, one of whom was Daniel. Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. At this, the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent.Finally these men said, ‘We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God.’So these administrators and satraps went as a group to the king and said: ‘May King Darius live forever! The royal administrators, prefects, satraps, advisers and governors have all agreed that the king should issue an edict and enforce the decree that anyone who prays to any god or human being during the next thirty days, except to you, Your Majesty, shall be thrown into the lions’ den. Now, Your Majesty, issue the decree and put it in writing so that it cannot be altered—in accordance with the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed.’ So King Darius put the decree in writing.Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. Then these men went as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help. So they went to the king and spoke to him about his royal decree: ‘Did you not publish a decree that during the next thirty days anyone who prays to any god or human being except to you, Your Majesty, would be thrown into the lions’ den?’ The king answered, ‘The decree stands—in accordance with the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed.’ Then they said to the king, ‘Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, Your Majesty, or to the decree you put in writing. He still prays three times a day.’ When the king heard this, he was greatly distressed; he was determined to rescue Daniel and made every effort until sundown to save him. Then the men went as a group to King Darius and said to him, ‘Remember, Your Majesty, that according to the law of the Medes and Persians no decree or edict that the king issues can be changed.’
So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions’ den. The king said to Daniel, ‘May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!’A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the rings of his nobles, so that Daniel’s situation might not be changed. Then the king returned to his palace and spent the night without eating and without any entertainment being brought to him. And he could not sleep.At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den. When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, ‘Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?’Daniel answered, ‘May the king live forever! My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, Your Majesty.’The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.
At the king’s command, the men who had falsely accused Daniel were brought in and thrown into the lions’ den, along with their wives and children. And before they reached the floor of the den, the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones.Then King Darius wrote to all the nations and peoples of every language in all the earth: ‘May you prosper greatly! ‘I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel.’ For he is the living God and he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end.He rescues and he saves; he performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.’” (Dan 6:1-27 NIV). Praise be to God!!! Daniel remained faithful to God even after he learned that the king had issued a decree. Daniel’s walk with God was real! He lived his life through a biblical worldview. His belief system wasn’t just an “image” for the public’s eye. It was his way of life. Character matters and he was proven trustworthy. He was a high ranking government official and no corruption or negligence could be found in him. Character always matters!!! Daniel’s steadfast faith pouring out through his actions revealed the living God to King Darius. Likewise, the outpouring of our lives reveals our faith. If we are going to impact this world for Jesus Christ, our lives must reflect Christ. To God be the glory. Amen!!