“The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king’s service. But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.” Daniel 1:5, 8 (NIV)
17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us[a] from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” Daniel 3:17-18 (NIV)
I recently heard a friend preach a sermon in a series on Daniel. This particular sermon dealt with his success in the surroundings of the court of Babylon. He and three of his friends were taken into the court to become workers in the court of Nebuchadnezzar.
There was an issue of the food that the king had them eat. Daniel knew this food had been presented to idols. This was forbidden in Daniel’s Hebrew belief. He asked for vegetables and water. When he met opposition, He asked that he hand his friends be allowed to do this diet for 10 days as a test and then have the guard compare how the four of them appear against the others who were being ‘trained.’ Daniel and his friends won the test.
What amazed me was the point my friend made. Her statement was to the effect of: “Daniel and his friends were successful because they were obedient to God.”
Then in Sunday school, our teacher told us that a pastor once told him that we have two legs on which we stand—trust and obey. They go hand in hand but first we have to trust God in order to obey Him.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, Daniel’s three friends trusted God when the king told them of their outcome for not bowing down to his image of gold. They didn’t flinch; they said even if God didn’t deliver them from the fiery furnace, they would still honor their God by not bowing down to an image.
How do we in the 21st Century trust and then obey God? Do we study His Word, seeking answers to our needs? Or do we sit and focus on our problems? (I’m going to let you in on a secret. I used to do this, myself.) We all, me included, need to learn to have sharing our hurts and problems with God as our “plan ‘A’”, our frontline strategy, rather than our “plan ‘Z’”, our last resort. May God forgive us as we humbly seek His favor for neglecting these very basic building blocks in developing a right relationship with Him.