If you’ve been reading along with us using the Resting at the River’s Edge reading plans, for the past week or so you’ve read about Daniel and his friends Shadrach, Meschach and Abnego facing death a number of times. Have you noticed the results of those situations? I knew that in each case they were unharmed, but there’s more to the story. Let’s look closer.

Daniel Faces Execution (Daniel 2)
King Nebuchadnezzar had a terrifying dream. “He called in his magicians, enchanters, sorcerers, and astrologers, and he demanded that they tell him what he had dreamed.” (verse 2, NLT) Notice that the king didn’t tell them his dream and ask for an interpretation. He expected the one who would interpret the dream to first reveal that they new the dream without being told it. That would be his confirmation that their interpretation was from God.

Then he went a step further: Any of these “wise men” (as he defined the term “wise” – as believers in the One True God, we would not apply the word “wise” to magicians, enchanters, sourcers and astrologers) any of these “wise men” who could not tell him the dream and its interpretation would be “torn limb from limb, and your houses will be turned into heaps of rubble!” (verse 5, NLT) That’s not good.

Of course none of them could tell King Nebuchadnezzar what his dream was. That made the king “furious” and he “ordered that all the wise men of Babylon be executed.” (verse 12, NLT)

That would include Daniel and his friends, even though they hadn’t been asked to interpret the king’s dream. When Daniel learned why he was going to be executed, he went to the king, requested more time to interpret the dream, and then gathered his friends to pray and seek the Lord. The Lord gave Daniel the dream and its interpretation. Daniel then told the king what he had dreamed and its interpretation.

The result? The Lord saved not only Daniel’s life, but also the lives of the magicians, enchanters, sorcerers, and astrologers. But that’s not all.

46Then King Nebuchadnezzar threw himself down before Daniel and worshiped him, and he commanded his people to offer sacrifices and burn sweet incense before him. 47The king said to Daniel, “Truly, your God is the greatest of gods, the LORD over kings, a revealer of mysteries, for you have been able to reveal this secret.” 48Then 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. 49At 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.
Daniel 2:46-49 (NLT)

Daniel was instantly snatched from the threat of execution to being appointed ruler over the whole province of Babylon and chief over all his wise men (that would be the magicians, enchanters, sorcerers, and astrologers who served false gods). In addition, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were given positions of authority.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego Face the Fire (Daniel 3)
King Nebuchadnezzar became taken with his own importance. He made a gold statue ninety feet tall and nine feet wide and required all people to bow to the ground and worship his statue. Anyone who refused would be thrown into a blazing furnace.

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, whom I’ll call the three amigos, defied the king’s command. When brought before the king, they confirmed their defiance saying “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.” (verses 17 and 18, NLT)

Kings generally don’t respond well to being defied. King Nebuchadnezzar had the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual and then had the three amigos thrown into it. Moments later, however, when Nebuchadnezzar looked into the fire, he “jumped up in amazement and exclaimed to his advisers, ‘Didn’t we tie up three men and throw them into the furnace?… I see four men, unbound, walking around in the fire unharmed! And the fourth looks like a god!” (verses 24 and 25, NLT)

(Woohoo! This is shouting material!)

The Lord not only saved the lives of the three amigos, He danced with them in the fire! And when the were taken from the fire, they weren’t singed and they didn’t smell of smoke! But that’s not all.

28Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise to the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego! He sent his angel to rescue his servants who trusted in him. They defied the king’s command and were willing to die rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. 29Therefore, I make this decree: If any people, whatever their race or nation or language, speak a word against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, they will be torn limb from limb, and their houses will be turned into heaps of rubble. There is no other god who can rescue like this!” 30Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to even higher positions in the province of Babylon.
Daniel 3:28-30 (NLT)

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were instantly snatched from certain death to being given even higher positions of authority in Babylon.

We see the following progression of events in both of these situations:

  • God’s servants faced certain death
  • God’s servants gave testimony – in advance – that God was their source
  • God visited His servants – Daniel through a dream and the three amigos through a physical manifestation of His presence
  • God rescued His servants
  • King Nebuchadnezzar privately and publicly proclaimed God as above all other gods
  • God’s servants were promoted

Did you notice that were it not for the dire circumstances – that is facing certain death – God would not have been glorified and the servants would not have been promoted.

Let me put it another way: the dire circumstances were the vehicle God used to bring glory to Himself and promotion to His servants.

That sure raises some questions worth our attention:

How do you view your dire (and not so dire) circumstances?

  • Are they opportunities to give testimony to others that God is your source?
  • Do you recognize them as opportunities for God to receive glory?
  • Do you have the positive expectation that they are opportunities for God to promote you?

My confession is that my faith is not as great as I would like it to be. I get stuck in my circumstances sometimes and forget that they are the vehicle God wants to use to promote me. I want to change my thinking – I want to expect God to be God! That’s what Daniel and his three amigos did! They expected God to be God in each circumstance, and the result was that He received glory and they were promoted. I want to face and experience the challenges in life as an opportunities for God to receive glory and for me to receive benefit. Living with that perspective isn’t living for personal or selfish gain, it’s expecting God to be God. Let’s do it!

What challenge are you facing right now in which you need to expect God to be God? He wants to be God in your life. Trust Him. Give testimony to His faithfulness. And wait for Him to rescue. Then rejoice in the glory He receives and enjoy your promotion!

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