I Wonder Where Daniel Was?
Today is Monday Manna, hosted by our very own wonderful Joanne at An Open Book. Stop by to read some of the comments on these wonderful verses from Daniel 3:16-18.
"Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, 'O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up'."
Faith is proved not necessarily when we ask for a miracle, not even when we ask for a miracle and don't receive what we expected, but when we submit ourselves to the brutal actions of others without the expectation of a miracle but with complete trust and commitment to God.
That's a long sentence, but I think it aptly describes what happened in this wonderful story from the Old Testament. These three men, facing a sure and painful death, did not hesitate to stand by their convictions. Beyond that, they declared their faith that God was able to rescue them. And beyond that again, they declared their faith even if God chose not to rescue them.
Something has always bugged me about this passage. There is one man missing in this picture. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego had not been brought to Babylon alone. According to Daniel 1, other young Jewish nobles had been held captive and trained in Babylonian ways. It appears that only these three men and Daniel, remained firm in their faith. So, where was Daniel while his three friends were getting their toes toasted?
We don't know the answer but permit me to speculate a little.
It wasn't until later, under the reign of Darius, that Daniel was tossed into a lions' den for praying to God rather than praying to the king. During the time of the story we are looking at today, in the days of Nebuchanezzar, Daniel held a high position in the king's court (Daniel 2:49).
Chances are that Daniel wasn't present. The provincial officials were called together to worship the image. Daniel's three friends were provincial officials. Canadians have a favourite political question: "Who's responsible for this problem, national or provincial?" Daniel was "national."
So what might Daniel have been doing during this episode? He probably knew what the king's plans were and the danger that would present to his friends. My guess is that Daniel was kneeling at the window in his house, with his face toward Jerusalem, interceding before God on behalf of his friends.
Daniel was a pray-er—and an unashamed one according to Daniel 6. When things got difficult, Daniel was on his knees: "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…" (6:10).
If I were a betting person, I'd bet that while his three friends were facing their trial by fire, Daniel was asking God to keep them strong, keep them faithful, and keep them safe.
When we have friends who pray for us when we are facing challenges, and a God who answers prayer, how can our faith be anything other than strong.