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'Tales of the Unexpected'
Daniel's Story

'Tales of the Unexpected'

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Daniel's Story

Read : Daniel 3: 13-25 (NIV) 

I am Daniel. My name means 'God is my judge' and I believe that. God is my judge; God will be the judge of every one of us. Perhaps it is this truth more than anything that has caused me to seek to be faithful.

I have heard some people suggest that I am courageous, but I do not feel that I am. I do seek to be faithful, faithful in whichever circumstance I find myself and in every responsibility that is given me. I seek to be faithful in my duties whether these are duties I have sought or those given me, sometimes duties I might prefer not to have. But you cannot always choose, can you? But you can always choose to be faithful. And while I have sought to be faithful in all of my duties, my first loyalty is to my Lord and my God, and where my loyalty to him has conflicted with my duties in this world, I have always tried to put God first, whatever the cost. 

But when I tell you a little of my story, it is not only my story, it is also the story of my three friends, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. And the bit of the story in the passage above, is more theirs than mine. But more of that in a moment. 

The four of us were friends together in Jerusalem. We were young noblemen in the court of King Jehoiakim. And then the Babylonians invaded and captured the city and took us, along with many others, back to Babylon where we were selected to serve in the court of King Nebuchadnezzar.  

We were given new names - Babylonian names. My three friends were called Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and I was named Belteshazzar; but I never forgot that I was Daniel: 'God is my judge'. 

I was determined to be faithful to God, come what may. And God proved faithful to me and my friends. 

When we were given the food decreed by the King, we wouldn't eat it. We are faithful Jews and we would not and could not risk being defiled by food that was not in accordance with the Law of God. But those responsible for us were afraid that we would lose health and fitness and that this would become obvious to the king. But God was faithful and we flourished and became even healthier on the vegetables that we would eat. 

And there was more; God gave us gifts of wisdom and insight. Our reputation grew. God was faithful, and I would seek to be faithful to him. 

One night King Nebuchadnezzar dreamt of a giant statue made of four metals (the feet being mingled iron and clay), which is smashed by a stone from heaven. God enabled me to understand this dream and explain it. The dream signified four kingdoms, of which Babylon was the first, but God will destroy them and replace them with his own kingdom. 

God was faithful and I would seek to be faithful to him. 

But what a challenge my three friends were about to face! 

King Nebuchadnezzar had set up a golden statue on the plain of Dura in Babylon, and commanded that all should worship it on pain of death when the appointed music was played, but Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego did not. They would not! They sought to be faithful to God, and would not bow down before any other but the Lord alone. 

Well, when this was reported to the king, he summoned them, questioned them, threatened them with death in the furnace. But still they insisted that they would not worship this image. 

In anger, the King commanded that my three friends be thrown into the fiery furnace.  

They said 'If our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire and out of your hand, O king, let him deliver us. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods and we will not worship the golden statue that you have set up.' 

They knew that God could save them and rescue them. They knew that he was and is a God of miracles. But they also knew that miracles do not always happen, that God does not always answer our prayers according to our wishes. Nonetheless, whether God rescued them or not, whether he worked a miracle or not, they were going to remain faithful. 

Whatever happened they would not become idolaters and be unfaithful to God. And if they had to die, then so be it. They would still seek to be faithful to God. 

And so the King threw them into the furnace. 

But to Nebuchadnezzar's astonishment, they were not consumed by the flames and when he looked in the furnace he saw not three figures . . . but four.  

Was it an angel?  

Was it God himself? 


Who can say? But, whatever, they were saved and the King promoted them over the province of Babylon. 

They had proved faithful to God and God was faithful to them. 

And that is the point.  

There are so many other stories I could tell of visions and dreams of danger and threat. There were strange writings on the wall and messages to be interpreted. I was even thrown into a den of lions at one point . . . and again God saved me. 

And as time passes I find my visions and dreams are becoming stranger and more difficult to understand. But I will still tell them and let others make of them what they will, for I am sure that this is what God would have me do. 

God is faithful and I will seek to be faithful to him. 

But what I want to leave with you, what I believe is of the greatest importance, is what I learned from my three friends, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. They were faithful to God; they would not bow down and worship the golden image. To have done so would have been to dishonour God. But they were willing to accept the consequences. They knew that God could save them and he can save you too! They believed in miracles . . . and God can still work miracles! 

But they knew also about the mystery of unanswered prayer and the absence of miracles. I expect you also know times when prayers seem to go unanswered and there are no miraculous cures, rescues or responses. 

But even if God did not work a miracle and rescue them; even if they would have to die in the furnace, they still would be faithful to God.  

They said 'If our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire and out of your hand, O king, let him deliver us. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods and we will not worship the golden statue that you have set up.' 

They believed that they had to remain faithful to God whatever the consequences and whatever the cost.  

God was faithful to them, and they - like me - would seek to remain faithful to God. 

We have all tried to live that way; faithful to God in all things and at all times and in every way.  

My name is Daniel: 'God is my judge'. 

Rev David Denniston, 2015


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