The first six chapters of the book of Daniel contain a collection of short stories from the Hebrew exile, stories about Daniel and his friends, Azariah, Mishael, and Hananiah. (Those of us who heard these stories growing up may be more familiar with the names Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, slave names given to them in Babylon.)
These several short stories function much like novellas, as we saw in the books of Esther and Jonah. Try to make time this week to read the entire book of Daniel in one sitting.
I love all these Daniel stories but especially the one about the fiery furnace.
Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were present at the dedication of a gigantic statue of King Nebuchadnezzar . . . when all the people were commanded to bow down and worship the image. But, of course—good Jews that they were, Hebrews who had learned their lesson and had become thoroughly monotheistic—these three worshipers of the one true God would not bow down to another.
Fiery furnaces or lions’ dens—people of faith don’t go through hard times because we haven’t been good enough or faithful enough.
As often as not, our obedience to God’s way, our faithfulness to God’s values, are the very things that place us in opposition to the values of the world. It is exactly because we try to do what is right that we often find ourselves embroiled in some controversy.
So be it.
Like Daniel, like Hananiah, Meshael, and Azariah we will not define ourselves according to what other people think is right. And we must not let fear decide our path . . .
Like Daniel and his friends . . . we also can see how Jesus’ authority comes from a much different source than the kings and tyrants of the age; Jesus’ power comes from self-giving and self-sacrifice. The gospel announces the unreasonable love of God poured into the cross of Jesus Christ and proclaims the unstoppable love of God breathing life into death.
Like the Christ whose name we wear, like the God whose image we bear, like the Spirit whose call we hear, the church is a people who give ourselves away. Within the gospel is the power to create (even in us self-centered humans) a passion to surrender our own rights and privileges on behalf of others . . .
Read more at Charlotte Vaughan Coyle, Living in The Story: A Year to Read the Bible and Ponder God’s Story of Love and Grace (Resources Publications).
Living in The Story readings for Week 44
Daniel icon by Betsy Porter