Simple Lessons on Faith From the Book of Daniel Chapter 3:16-18
The book of Daniel is a book written by one of the princes of Judah who was taken captive alongside with others into the land of Babylon, by Nebuchadnezzar and while in the land of Babylon he was among the selected few who were taken into the palace of the king to learn their culture, customs and education.
Daniel and three other Hebrews lived a distinct life in the land and palace carving a niche for themselves there. What they have done resulted in their promotion in the land.
However, at a juncture, the king of the land having been full of himself and his gods, decided to appreciate his gods and the fortune his gods have brought him and his kingdom he told everyone to bow to worship his gods, but three of the renown Hebrews did not toe the path of the King’s order, for they have learnt before being carried captive that they shouldn’t have other gods apart from Yahweh, it does not matter where they are. This they stayed by and would not worship the small gods placed at strategic position by the king to be worshipped but the only God whom they have heard of before their captivity.
The details of this story could be found in the third chapter of the book of Daniel. I however, want to extract few words of faith from this book as manifested by the three Hebrews reactions to the decree of the king.
The Book of Daniel in Brief
In the LXX, the Vulgate and the English version of the bible, this book follows Ezekiel, but it was not so in the Hebrew canon it is placed in the Hagiographa. This in other words implies that this book neither belongs to the major nor minor prophets’ books.
It was not put with the prophets because Daniel, though called a prophet (Mat 24:15) and one of the greatest of them who essentially was greatly gifted in the spirit of the prophecy was officially not regarded as a prophet in Hebrew. The canon of the prophets was closed around 200 BCE but the book of Daniel was written after this date, during the Maccabean period.
These are the reasons for not placing this book among the book of the prophets. It is said that Daniel had the “donum propheticum”, but not the “minus propheticum”: he has the prophetic gift but not the prophetic vocation.
He was officially a statesman, and his life was passed in the business of the state. He does not use the common prophetic declaration, “thus saith the Lord” and he does not exhort his contemporaries, as it was the function of the prophets of those days.
The book is written in Hebrew except chapters 2:4b to 7:28 which was written in Aramaic.
The book could be divided into two sections, of which the first chapters (1-6) probably is pre-Maccabean and has a Babylonian origin. As regards the madness of Nebuchadnezzar (4:28-37),
it should be noted that a fragmentary document from Qumrān records in the “Prayer of Nabonidus” that the latter had been ill with “a dread disease by the decree of the Most High God” and was “set apart from men” for a 7-year period.
It may be that the disability of Nibonidus in the Babylonian oral transmission was transferred to a greater king, Nebuchadnezzar, and that in this from It was accepted by the author of Daniel.
The second part (chapters 7-12) belongs to early years of Maccabean revolt (168-164 BCE)
On the Date of Writing
The date of authorship expectedly has been a matter of controversy among the church fathers. Jerome one of the greatest commentators about the book opposed the Neoplatonist porphyry, who attacked the historicity of the work and maintained that it was Maccabean. Commentators now generally accept the date assigned by porphyry and contend that it was written under the name Daniel in 168 BCE to support the faith of the Jews under dreadful persecution then raging under Antiochus Epiphanes. In its contributions to apocalyptic and eschatology the book holds an important place in O.T. theology. (The New Westminster Dictionary of the Bible)
Few words of Faith From the book of Daniel 3:16-18
In this book we shall see few things that would ginger our faith from the position of the three Hebrews to what the king decides to do unto anyone that fails to yield to what he says but the three Hebrews being people of faith do not mind what would happen as they decide to take the bull by its horn.
1. A man of Faith does not argue with wicked people
Some people thought by argument they would bring about changes into the heart of those they are talking with, thus they start arguing with them, but it hardly has any form of argument bring about changes in people’s disposition to some issues or things.
“Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter.” (Dan 3:16)
The three Hebrews here knew what and whom they believed and they do not dare argue with the King, they do not raise some forms of defense for themselves, that is why they told the king that they are not careful to answer him on his disposition to what they have done and what he expects them to do. For their faith has shown that he has made up his mind, and they have equally made up their minds on what they want to do, no form of intimidation could change their mind and disposition to what they have in mind to do.
In the matter of religion and beliefs, it should be noted that hardly do people change by arguing with them, what they do when they are arguing with believers is finding the loopholes to explore and how to mock them afterwards. That is why apostle Paul says our custom is not that of contention with people because such often degenerates to another thing.
“But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.” (1 Co 11:16)
Contention is this Greek word “φιλόνεικος”, Romanized form is philoneikos (pronounced as fil-on'-i-kos) which means disputations.
“Careful” in Hebrew word is “חשׁח”, the Romanized form is chăshach (phonetic spelling is khash-akh') which means readiness, need, necessary. From this we shall discover that they say that it is no need to reply the King on what his disposition was on what they have said, not as if they were bereft of ideas neither words to say, but they discover that it is unnecessary for them to so do.
2. People of Faith do not try to defend themselves
Some people when they are defending themselves, they would include some other things that they need not to include in their discussion with those people. Consider what happened unto Peter when Jesus was arrested, when he was trying to defend himself, he lied, he did not only lie, he even swears (Mat 26:72-74) when the bible says we shouldn’t swear, but we should let our yea be yea and nay be nay.
“But I say unto you, swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne:
“Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King.
“Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black.
“But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.” (Mat 5:34-37)
The three Hebrews perhaps foreseen this and decides not to reply the King, whatever he likes he can believe, whatever he likes he can do.
We need to get to this stage as a person of faith when we have said something which we know is true to the best of our knowledge we should leave the rest, for people will always want to push us to swear and do what the bible enjoins us not to do.
4. People of Faith Knows God’s Abilities
The three Hebrews say, “…the God whom we serve is ABLE to SAVE us…” The said ability that they believed in here, I can call hope, as the book of Hebrews says, “Faith… is confidence of things hoped for” (Heb. 11:1). They have the confidence that their God has the ability, capability and the power to save them from his hands.
We all shall recall one of the effects of hope as stated by the apostle and it is that hope makes not ashamed.
Rom. 5:5 “And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”
They knew what their God can do.
3. The People of Faith Are Undeterred by People’s Decision
They did not mind what would happen to them, for they have signed the contract that they will live for Yahweh throughout their days on earth either it is well with them or not.
Dan 3:17 “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 thine hand, O king.”
Thus, they said, “if it be so”, which implies if you have made your decision which we are not going to appeal then let it be.
This is the position we all need to get to as a believer in the world, to show the devil that our lives are not even ours, but if we do not get to that stage, we shall always be caught napping by every threats made by the devil and we would always want to compromise issues to save our faces, but if we can get to this position, that we do not mind his threat, then the devil would know that he has lost it on us.
Poll: Do You Know
Do you know what God can do?
We ought to know what our God can also do as his children. It is being said of an incident that happened in a country when an earthquake happened in a school and the pupils were trapped inside the ground, they said one of the children after they have been rescued told his friends who were likewise rescued by his father that “did I not tell you that I know my father is coming to rescue us?”. That child was confident of what his father will do for him and by extension them, he knows his worth in his father’s hand, he knows how his father valued him, and he would not just give up like that believing it is all over like that.
This position we equally need to get to as believers of the gospel, we need to know our Lord and savior deeply we need to know what he can do for us. The three Hebrews knew what their God can do.
There is Play (or Test) of Power Here
It will interest you to know here that there is a play of power here. The king has been bragging of what his gods are doing for him and what they have done, for by the power and might of her gods had he conquered all the lands and nations that was his believe and because he thence believed thus, he wants the people to felicitate and rejoice with him that he has a special god the god that can give him all the world he wants the people to bow to worship his gods with him.
The entire people in the kingdom have been terrified by this and they had succumbed to what he said, but some group of people who though have been brought into the land but who knew their God stands tall to disprove him that it was not his gods who handed them over into his hands but it was their sins that sold them to him.
Sometimes when some things happened to us, the people of the world would be thinking it is their god that makes that happen to us, maybe when we are contesting and competing for something and that thing fall into their hands, they would think it is because of their power that they have possessed that but unknown that, that is not the case, the sins of some people close by us, or even our trespasses may have made us lose out in the bid.
Thus, when they see this happening they would he thinking that their gods have power than Yahweh than the God we are serving, but having discovered the loophole what brought about that we need to stand tall and stand out like these Hebrews and told them that what we lose we know why it happened and it was not as if your god has power more than the sovereign God who rules the world and the earth.
Now to do something like this we need to have in-depth knowledge about that God. This was what the three Hebrews had that gave them confidence to confront the king.
5. The People of Faith Received Their Deliverance Ahead
Because these people know their God, and they knew what he could do, testifying that they know he can deliver them from his hand and even from the fire, they received their deliverance spiritually even before it happened.
Heb 11:1 “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
From the above bible verse about faith we can see that the three Hebrews hoped to be delivered and they were because earlier, they have received it in the spirit even before it occurred/manifested.
6. People of Faith Knows that God can save (deliver) from inanimate things
They expressly expressed themselves to the king that they know that their God can save from inanimate things.
“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 thine hand, O king.” (Dan 3:17)
Some people do not believe that the power of God covers inanimate things, all they think God has power to overcome are living things. But herein, the three Hebrews told the King that they believed in the efficacy and the efficiency of their God that he can deliver from inanimate things which he was using to terrify all. Thus, they said, our God “is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace”
7) People of Faith Know That God has ability to save (deliver) from man (animate)
They again state clearly to him that they know he was powerful as a person and therefore, they believed that their God can also save them from his hand.
“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 thine hand, O king.” (Dan 3:17)
There are people in this part of the world that wield so much power because of their positions in the town, government offices etc. coupled with their political influence, that when they cough one would think all is over with the person in that establishment. However, if people can know their God as did these Hebrews, they shall know that, God has power than those people and can deliver from their hands, from their threats.
Irrespective of how powerful a person is, God has power more than them and can save those who rely on him from those people.
9. Faith does not renounce what he has said that is scriptural
For fear many have renounced their faith. But this does not happen to these Hebrews they stood their ground even in the face of terrible judgment that has been passed which they can appeal and continue to live. All that the king requires of them was renouncing what they have earlier said and live. But they replied that they wouldn’t do that, for ephemeral things, and that they choose to die than to live.
Jesus says, a man who loses his life would regain it, and those who try to gain or preserve their lives would lose it. These Hebrews decide to lose their lives for God by faith and they gained it at the end of it all.
The three Hebrews are wonderful people of faith,
blessed experience for us all that if indeed we want to practice faith that is outstanding, we need to damn the consequences, we need to put our lives on the line. The three Hebrews put their lives on the line, because they never thought what happened to them would happen, assuming they knew such would happen, I presume they may even misbehave while talking with the king, but since God’s actions were hidden unto them, they decided to die than to live, to go and rest on the bosom of father Abraham, but God turns the things around for them for he knows they still have works, testimonies to give about him in the land of the living. Let us imitate them as we practice our faith in the world, and we shall put the devil to shame daily.
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