The story of Daniel and his friends is a story of what it means to stay faithful to God in a hostile environment.
Taken from their homes in Jerusalem at the orders of King Nebuchadnezzar, these four young men, along with others, were selected to receive a solid Babylonian education. Their names were changed, they were taught Babylonian language and literature and they were fed and watered from the best of the king’s own kitchen – although not exactly, for it was here – on the issue of food and drink – that Daniel and company drew their first line. They would later be required to draw further lines in terms of worship and allegiance.
Here are two fairly obvious lessons from the stories of Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah (better known to us as Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego).
- The Lord is still God, even when Nebuchadnezzar is the name on the door of the CEO’s office. Judah and failed and Jerusalem had fallen, but the Lord was still sovereign. It was actually the Lord who had handed Jerusalem over to the Babylonians. And it was the Lord who supernaturally and spectacularly protected and prospered his four followers. Just as it was the Lord who demonstrated to the pagan kings that ‘he changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings’, and that ‘he rules the kingdom of mankind and sets over it whom he will.’
- It takes courage to follow God in a hostile environment. There are lines which must be drawn; there may be threats of furnaces or lions’ dens. God’s followers need to trust him, no matter what.