Part 6 Daniel
This is the sixth in a series that examines references to prisons and prisoners in the Bible. This time we will consider the testimonies of Daniel and the three Hebrew men, captives in Babylon and Persia whose stories are recorded in the book of Daniel. We can read these inspirational accounts in chapters three and six of Daniel.
In 605 B.C. Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, invaded Judah and took the best and brightest of the Jewish young men as exiles. Among these prisoners were four exceptional individuals named Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. They all became influential in the Babylonian royal court. Later in 539 B.C. the Medes and Persians conquered the Babylonian empire and we are told that Daniel continued to have a prominent role in the political life of that empire.
In Daniel chapter three we learn how Nebuchadnezzar had a golden image erected in Babylon and required everyone to bow down to it. The story of how the three young Hebrew men refused to worship the image and were thrown into the fiery furnace, only to be rescued from the flames by the power of God is familiar to anyone that has attended Sunday School as a child.
A similar story can be found in the sixth chapter of how several years later, and under another ruler, all the people of the empire were forbidden from praying to any god other than the king. Daniel, however, refused to obey the commandment and prayed to the Lord. As a result he was thrown into a den of lions, but the Lord shut the animals’ mouths and Daniel was not harmed.
Each of these accounts emphasize the importance of standing firm for our convictions even in the face of strong opposition. The temptation to cave in and take the road of expediency can often be strong, yet the only way we can truly glorify God in our lives is by being firm and immovable in our commitment to Him.
The comments of the three young men before being thrown into the furnace are both inspiring and humbling. When faced with the threat of being executed in the flames they responded boldly to the king by saying…
If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.
We must ask ourselves if we would have that kind of courage under similar circumstances. Were we forced to choose between our testimony for Christ and certain death, how would we respond?