Through all the changing scenes of life, in trouble and in joy, the praises of my God shall still my heart and tongue employ.
The word steadfast according to the Webster dictionary means firmly fixed in place, immovable; Firm in believe, determination or adherence. The book of Daniel gives an excellent example of young men who trusted, relied and believed in their God. I am constantly awed any time I read about these young men. Indeed they had absolute trust in God.
Daniel (Belteshazzar), Shadrach (Hananiah), Meshach (Mishael) and Abednego (Azariah) found themselves as captives in Babylon. However, when the time came to choose people to enter the King’s service, these men found favour and where chosen. I wonder how they felt… overjoyed, privileged, superior? After all, the criterion for their selection in the first place tells us a lot.
3 Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring into the king’s service some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility— 4young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace.
Whatever their feelings were, these young men remained focused and knew who they were. Yes, they had been selected but they still remained who they were. Many a time, we allow ourselves to be overtaken by circumstances and we tend to forget who we are.
There were certain conditions that they had to meet before qualifying to serve the king. On the list was to eat food offered to idols. Daniel and his friends refused to eat food offered to idols because they did not want to defile themselves and yet they were found to be healthier looking than the rest of the people who fed on this. Note that these four men were not the only ones initially selected but at the end of the set time they were the very ones who qualified. They had the favour of God.
6 Among those who were chosen were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. 17 To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.
Through the gift bestowed on Daniel, he was able to interpretate King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. Daniel was promoted to rule over the entire province of Babylon and requested for his friends (Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego) to be administrators.
Of course this did not go down well with others and it earned Daniel and his friends ‘enemies’. These ‘enemies’ had probably observed Daniel and his friends long enough to appreciate the work of God in their lives. So when King Nebuchadnezzar’s made for himself an idol and decreed every one must bow to it, it presented the perfect opportunity for their perpetrators.
I am sure it was no secret that Daniel and his friends did not eat food offered to idols and their God had miraculously made them to be healthier looking than all the others. These ‘enemies’ may have thought: let us see how this God will save them should they refuse to obey the Kings orders. After all, the punishment for disobedience was to be thrown into a burning furnace.
6 “Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.”
Shedrach, Meshach and Abednego were not perturbed by such decrees. Their trust and reliance in their God was far too greater than any decree by man. Of course, they disobeyed.
12 But there are some Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon—Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego—who pay no attention to you, Your Majesty. They neither serve your gods nor worship the image of gold you have set up.”
They were found guilty and had to be punished but they were defiant.
16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 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 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
What touches me most about these scriptures is verse 18. But even if He does not…… It takes me back to a scripture in the book of Habakkuk.
17 Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, 18 yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Saviour.
Habakkuk 3:17 &18
So as decreed, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were thrown into the burning furnace but the Living God delivered them. They were also promoted. This tells us that many a time we need to stand firm during trials because your promotion is only around the corner.
28 Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. 29 Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way.” 30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the province of Babylon.
Again the camp of the enemy failed. Before their very eyes another miracle had occurred. ‘’Who is this God that these young men are serving?’’ they must have thought. But they would not give up. The plot against Daniel’s friends had failed, the next target was Daniel. Sometimes, one will wonder why good people go through a series of trials. There are no definite answers but the good thing is the Lord assures us in the book of Jeremiah that at the end of the day we will be victorious.
15If anyone does attack you, it will not be my doing; whoever attacks you will surrender to you.(NIV)
15Behold, they may gather together and stir up strife, but it is not from Me. Whoever stirs up strife against you shall fall and surrender to you.(AMP)
The modus operandi used against Daniel was very similar to that used against his friends. Defy your living God or face death. But alas! It was put in another context. A seemingly harmless one, one might argue. Remember this was during the reign of King Dairus.
7 The royal administrators, prefects, satraps, advisers and governors have all agreed that the king should issue an edict and enforce the decree that anyone who prays to any god or human being during the next thirty days, except to you, Your Majesty, shall be thrown into the lions’ den
That is exactly how the devil operates but the bible tells us that we are not ignorant of the wiles of the enemy.
11To keep Satan from getting the advantage over us; for we are not ignorant of his wiles and intentions. (AMP)
11 In order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes. (NIV)
There are people who would think: If this decree was for only thirty days, then one could have just played it safe. Do not pray for thirty days and resume prayers after this period. But dear friend, God seeks people who are steadfast, people who have absolute trust in Him. Why compromise? Why shun your God because of the decrees of men?
Daniel was a man of difference. He knew about the decree but was not perturbed. When you have known God in a certain dimension no amount of storms would cause you to sink unless you allow yourself to. This is because of the finished work of Christ. We are Victors! Oh yes, there are times when you would be tossed on every side, there are times when you would even feel the water creeping into your ship, there are times when you begin to see the water filling the ship but when you cry out to your Father, He comes into the situation and calms the storm. Even in those situations when the storms are so turbulent, He will carry you through, safe and secure in His everlasting arms.
10 Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.
As usual the perpetrators reported his conduct to the King and he had to face the consequence: To be thrown into a den of lions.
16 So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions’ den. The king said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!” 17 A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the rings of his nobles, so that Daniel’s situation might not be changed. 18 Then the king returned to his palace and spent the night without eating and without any entertainment being brought to him. And he could not sleep.
Daniel 6:16 -18
I am sure Dairus had witnessed the miracles that had happened in the lives of Daniel and his friends and was convinced that the God of Daniel was the only one and true living God. That may be why he could not sleep and was anxious for the next morning.
20 When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?”
We indeed serve a living God, An awesome God, Mighty warrior, Great in Battle. When the enemy comes in like a flood His spirit raises a standard. Daniel’s response says it all.
22 My God sent his angel and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight.
In the end the perpetrators suffered what they had planned for Daniel (Daniel 6:24). Indeed they had meant it for evil but the good Lord turned it out for good.
18But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, 19 to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine.
Psalm 33: 18 & 19
Romans 8:28 also admonishes that in all things we must know that God is in control. 28And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
We normally hear these scriptures but critically analysing it, this was no easy situation for these young men. Can we Christians of today really stand our ground against all odds? Can we really say we still trust in the Lord and go by His word when sticking to our faith may cost us our lives?
We usually complain at the least situation but as Jesus rightly said no matter what we are going through we have not reached the point where it has cost us our lives (Hebrews 12:4). This is only one of the many examples of men who have had absolute trust in their God. Talk of the Josephs, the Joshuas and the Calebs.
Dear friend, I do not know what you have been through, going through or what you are about to go through. But what I do know is that, there is a living God – A God who loves you beyond measure, Who neither slumber nor sleep, Who watches over His words to perform, Who is faithful even when we are not faithful. This same God will carry you through.
Do not be weary, do not faint, stand firm and hold on to Him. Even when your knees feel wobbly, please HOLD ON! Even when you feel like giving up STILL HOLD ON! Even when the situation seems futile, CONTINUE TO HOLD ON! Against all the ODDS of this life, may the Holy Spirit help us to maintain a Steadfast Spirit.
Will your anchor hold in the storms of life, When the clouds unfold their wings of strife?
When the strong tides lift, and the cables strain, Will your anchor drift or firm remain?
We have an anchor that keeps the soul, Steadfast and sure while the billows roll,
Fastened to the Rock http://cialisfrance24.com which cannot move, Grounded firm and deep in the Saviour’s love.
God bless you!
Lyrics of hymns: http://www.lyricsondemand.com/
Unless otherwise stated all scriptures were quoted from NIV bible