Today’s Reading: Daniel 2-3
Tell me what I dreamed and what it means – this was the unreasonable demand of King Nebuchadnezzar of all of the wise men of Babylon. When they were unable to do this, he ordered their execution. When the officers came to kill Daniel, he handled the situation with wisdom and discretion. He asked for more time then went to his friend Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah (Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego) and asked them to pray.
He urged them to ask the God of heaven to show them his mercy by telling them the secret, so they would not be executed along with the other wise men of Babylon. That night the secret was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven. He said,
“Praise the name of God forever and ever, for he has all wisdom and power.
He controls the course of world events; he removes kings and sets up other kings.
He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the scholars.
He reveals deep and mysterious things and knows what lies hidden in darkness, though he is surrounded by light.
I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors, for you have given me wisdom and strength.
You have told me what we asked of you and revealed to us what the king demanded.” – Daniel 2:18-23
So, when faced with a difficult situation, a matter of life or death, Daniel gathered his friends together and they prayed for God’s intervention. Then, when God answered their prayer, Daniel first took time to praise God, acknowledging the source of all wisdom, power, knowledge and strength.
PRAYER and PRAISE – two of the main ingredients to Daniel’s success, to his excellence.
God revealed the dream and its meaning to Daniel, who in turn gave God all the glory explaining to the king why God was revealing this dream. Daniel in essence said – What you have asked is impossible, but nothing is impossible for God. God doesn’t have to explain this dream to you or reveal the future to you, but He has because God wants you to understand what is in your heart (Dan. 2:27-30).
Then the king appointed Daniel to a high position and gave him many valuable gifts. He made Daniel ruler over the whole province of Babylon, as well as chief over all his wise men. At Daniel’s request, the king appointed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to be in charge of all the affairs of the province of Babylon, while Daniel remained in the king’s court. – Dan. 2:48-49
Now these four young Jewish men in captivity were being entrusted with even more. These young men of excellence were faithful to God and God was enlarging their territory.
OPPORTUNITY and ADVANCEMENT – two of the results of their faith, of their excellence.
King Nebuchadnezzar’s response to God revealing the meaning of his dream was to acknowledge that Daniel’s God is the greatest of gods. This was the problem. He did not recognize God as the ONLY true God, just that He was the Most High of all gods. He still did not accept that God was the only One to be worshipped. Nebuchadnezzar made a 90 foot by 90 foot statue made of gold out in the province where Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were in leadership. The base of this statue would have been much bigger than a basketball court to give you an idea of its size. He commanded that everyone bow and worship this statue.
Once more, these three young men were given the opportunity to choose excellence, even when faced with the possibility of death. King Nebuchadnezzar may not have recognized who the only true God is, but these young men did. Their new positions of authority and power did not boast their pride but they remained humbly faithful to their God. They refused to bow to the statue.
STRENGTH and COURAGE – evidence of their excellence in both character and actions.
“O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. BUT EVEN IF HE DOESN’T, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will NEVER serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.” – Daniel 3:16-18
Wow! This has been one of my favorite testimonies of faith since I was a little girl and it remains extremely powerful to me today. EVEN IF God doesn’t answer their prayer as they have requested, they will serve God and only God. In good times and difficult times, during the struggles and in the triumphs, after the mistakes and the victories, we have the opportunity to praise God!
What are you asking for today? Does your faith in God hinge on whether or not He answers your prayer your way? Prayer and praise – these two ingredients of Daniel’s faith are available to us. Are we prepared to praise God no matter how He answers our prayer? Do we trust the heart of God enough to trust His hand? Are we living out the excellence that God is producing within us?