“I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, who through faith . . . shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flame . . .” (Hebrews 11:33b-34a).
We are now getting into the last few verses of Hebrews 11 in which the writer does not specify the people who demonstrated amazing acts of faith. However, we have a clue as to who these people might be. This week we will study four men with courageous faith: Daniel, Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego. They lived at a low point in Israel’s history. Due to Israel’s unrelenting practice of idolatry and their unrepentant hearts, God gave them over to Babylon. King Nebuchadnezzar was the Babylonian king and ruled over more nations than any other king at that time. His strategy was to bring in some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility and train them to serve in the king’s palace. Only “young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, and quick to understand” (Daniel 1:4) were chosen to be a part of this elite group.
Can you imagine being a member of this company? What an amazing honor and privilege. Their fellow countrymen were placed into slavery and lived in impoverished, oppressive conditions. Yet, these four men from Judah were selected to live an exclusive lifestyle in the king’s court. There are few in this world who would risk giving up this kind of life. Yet, in the book of Daniel, we discover that Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah (their Hebrew names) did just that! Some of you may be more familiar with the Babylonian names the king gave them: Belteshazzar, Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego. Daniel and his three friends felt that eating the royal food and drinking wine was “defiling themselves” so they asked permission to eat only vegetables and drink water. By doing this, the king could potentially execute them or at least banish them from the royal court. Despite this, they remained true to what they felt God wanted them to do.
It is always wise to “count the cost” before making any big decision. These four men considered the possible negative consequences. Yet, they knew that no matter what happened, they could not disobey the Lord and eat foods that He had clearly showed them were against His will. They counted the cost and were willing to sacrifice a comfortable life in order to bring glory and honor to God. They had faith that God would bless them and protect them as a result of their obedience. They knew that doing things God’s way always brings greater blessing than following the world’s ways. Interestingly, “at the end of ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food” (Daniel 1:15).
As we count the cost and consider the possible consequences of our decisions, we need to include faith in the equation. Daniel and his three friends had faith that God would bless their obedience. Regardless of the outcome, they knew that the best place is always in the center of God’s will. Are you needing to make any big decisions? Ask the Lord to reveal
His will. Then by faith act in obedience, even if the possible consequences seem scary or difficult. Be assured that obedience to His leading will always bring glory to Him and blessing to you and others! One final note: Keep an eternal perspective regarding your view of “blessings.” The blessing may be growth in your walk, helping another, or bringing glory to God.
Today’s Bible Reading: Hebrews 11:33-34; Daniel 1