The Hebrew Children
Daniel, Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego had every natural reason to become alarmed when Yahweh decided it was time to promote them. His ways being so much higher than our ways, we almost never understand what he is doing. For example: these four young Hebrews were willingly subjected to a situation that might have appeared, in their day and time, to be total destruction and, indeed, would have been had not the hand of Yahweh prearranged it. For Yahweh was using his dedicated servants to display his glory and salvation to a heathen nation, and at the same time, honor and promote those which had the faith to believe and obey him.
These men, having been brought to Babylon as slaves and kept in captivity in that heathen nation, had no way of knowing that Yahweh was about to place them in a position of power and authority through a severe testing of their faith.
These Hebrew children’s first recorded test came when they were offered meat to eat that had been dedicated and sacrificed to heathen gods. This meat came from the king’s table; therefore, it was considered unclean to the servants of Yahweh. They might have used the excuse that they were forced into the situation as slaves—if they had chosen to do so, this would have become an acceptable solution to men of less faith. But instead of taking an easy way out, these great men of faith trusted Yahweh, passed the test, and received their promotion to become chief ones among the king’s counselors; quite a unique place for slaves—helping the enemy make the right decisions. Wouldn’t you just love that?
After having been examined and tested, the four Hebrew servants were found to be ten times better in matters of wisdom and understanding than all the rest of the king’s magicians and astrologers. Pretty good results for men which Yahweh had placed on a bean diet for so long (some of Yahweh’s children would be so concerned for their stomach that they could be thinking of nothing more). But Yahweh had great honors to bestow upon these four servants. He never gave them time to settle down and become comfortable in this place of bondage—he troubled the waters by disturbing the king’s sleep.
Yahweh gave the king a spiritual dream, then caused him to forget it, but allowed him to know that he had dreamed a very important dream. In those days, it was extremely dangerous to be around a king when his mind was troubled.
The king exhausted every method he knew in trying to remember his dream, but without success. His wise men could not tell him the dream nor give him the interpretation. Yahweh had carefully hidden it from them, and in his great wisdom, had arranged it so that his four servants would not be present at the meeting.
Nebuchadnezzar’s anger was aroused when the wise men were unable to give him a satisfactory answer and decreed that all his wise men should be put to death. This decree involved Daniel and his friends, even though they had not been given the opportunity to solve the problem.
This type of event attracts everyone’s attention. Yahweh had to first attract the attention of the people before he could reveal his wisdom and power. This was a perfect way to attract attention—revealing his love and salvation and at the same time honor and promote his faithful servants. What appeared to be the end was only another step up.
Before being promoted to a high position, the Hebrew children had to be tested more severely than they were previously. This was a life and death situation. Some having been subjected to much less, would have pushed the panic button and lost faith, perhaps accusing Yahweh of unfaithfulness for having allowed them to be exposed to the king’s wrath.
The most common reaction to Yahweh’s plan to promote his servants is they quickly despair and feel anger toward him instead of trusting and being obedient.
Fear replaces faith, and instead of taking advantage of the opportunity to be promoted, more ground is lost. Every time we fail any kind of test we loose some degree of self-esteem. If we pass, we gain self-esteem. We certainly need to possess enough faith, patience, and wisdom in Yahweh that we can allow him to reveal his power in us.
In all the past ages, very few of Yahweh’s servants were given an opportunity to gain wisdom and strength from experiences such as these four slaves endured.
Yahweh knew their strength before they were tried. He allowed them to be tested because he needed someone to stand in the presence of that wicked king as faithful witnesses to him and to all the future generations that were to come after him.
When we, the children of Yahweh, are made to face difficult situations and hopeless calamities in life, we need to accept them with faith, and trust in Yahweh without fear and doubt. Each stumbling block can become a stepping stone when we allow Yahweh’s light to shine on our path and Yahweh’s hand to guide us.
Yahweh can only manifest light in dark places. A star never shines until darkness falls. The light is always there, but the darkness is necessary to reveal it. Yahweh is revealing the truth and light in and through his light bearers. Yahweh is not involved in creating cream puffs. He is setting ablaze his stones of fire. Yahweh has never had a shortage of spoiled, pampered, weaklings. He needs an army of truth crusaders to bear the cross and herald the message of resurrected life. This army will reveal Yahweh’s love, saving truth, and light to the children of darkness. If we are so frightened of the darkness that Yahweh cannot subject us to it, we can never be used to help those who dwell in darkness to see the light. If we are full of light within, we will never dwell in darkness.
If you are following the direction of Yahweh, often what seems to be a dire calamity is really Yahweh’s preparation to honor and bless you. When it seems the roof is about to cave in on you or the earth is about to swallow you up, it is time to lift up your eyes and praise Yahweh—you are about to be promoted! Yahweh is using many things to build a ladder for us to reach the highest heaven. Yahweh loves you! This is not the day to fret, doubt, or despair. If you want more from Yahweh, his arm is reaching out to bring about a promotion. Remember the darker the night, the brighter the stars will shine.
Daniel and his three friends confidently prayed the prayer of faith and then went to sleep. From the outward appearance, these men were going to perish on the morrow, but that night they slept in perfect peace.
It is amazing how much faith these men of Yahweh had. This would have been a perfect setting for an all night prayer meeting to those of lesser faith, but an answer came while they were resting in faith. There were no senseless accusations against their country for having fallen away from Yahweh or for them being sold into bondage. There was no condemnation toward the angry king for his merciless disposition. There was no fear that the devil had outdone Yahweh. And there was no rebuke to Yahweh for allowing them to face an angry and heartless king. Had they been too fearful to sleep, they would have missed the answer that came in the night vision.
In quiet confidence and rest, Daniel received the interpretation to the dream. With it came deliverance for them and for the souls that were dependent upon them. They also received favor and honor with the king. They obtained wealth and promotion in the kingdom as rulers, proving to that heathen nation that the Lord Yahweh omnipotent reigns over the affairs of men. Yahweh turned what appeared to be a hopeless and fatal predicament into victory, honor, and glory.
There are some lessons in this story that we should have already learned. We should read this story in the Bible and note carefully how Yahweh worked for them and the consequences of their testing. Promotion often comes from impossible situations.
Time passes and Yahweh is ready to promote his faithful servants again. He does it by creating another impossible situation. Yahweh chose the fire this time, and really turned the thermostat up. The wicked old king decided to make an idol god. He was inspired by Yahweh to manifest his secret sins and hidden desires. He designed an idol god, an image for the people to worship. What a predicament for anyone to be caught in. Now they must compromise and worship the idol god and have all the nations of Yahweh following them into idolatry or be willing to stand before the king and denounce his actions, suffering the consequences. Until now, they had been in solid with the government—the perfect place to help their people. Why should they sacrifice such a comfortable position?
Here comes the test. Did they really trust Yahweh? Should they trust Yahweh with their lives? Would he fail them now? This was the perfect time for despair, or at least the time to have a few doubts, and a desperate night of begging Yahweh. This is, for some, a perfect time to push the panic button. No answer from Yahweh in the night. The fire is getting hotter and Yahweh is silent. There is nothing in sight but the furnace. The insulted king confronts the Hebrews in his fury, “If you refuse to bow down and worship this image that I have made, you must be thrown straight into the fiery furnace, and where is the God that can save you from my power?”
Now, listen to the words of these overcomers. “Oh King Nebuchadnezzar, your question hardly requires an answer. If our God, the one we serve, is able to save us from the burning fiery furnace and from your power, oh King, he will save us. And even if he does not, then you must know, oh King, that we will not serve your god nor worship this statue that you have erected.”
This king knew something of the power of the God that these men served, and that knowledge caused him to take every precaution to enforce the power of his strength. He heated the oven until it was seven times hotter than it had been. They bound his prisoners’ hands and feet, and cast them into the fiery inferno. The flames killed the ones that came near enough to deliver them to the fire, but only burned away the cords that bound Yahweh’s servants.
In our day, Babylon certainly has erected her statue and demands that the children of Yahweh bow down to its image. It says to the multitudes, “Come and worship and bow down. We will welcome you into our system and treat you kindly. We will even let you be a deacon or a Sunday school teacher. Come share with us. Come sup with us. All we require is that you bow down to the system.” If you resist, get ready for the fire. That’s not such a bad thing if you are abiding in Yahweh and he in you, he will be in the flames with you and burn away the cords of bondage that bind you to the flesh and to the world system that demands you serve them in their land and share in their inheritance, which is death. Remember! “Our God is a consuming fire,” Hebrews 12:29.