Do you want to grow in faith? Read the following passage:
"When Arioch, the commander of the king’s guard, had gone out to put to death the wise men of Babylon, Daniel spoke to him with wisdom and tact. He asked the king’s officer, “Why did the king issue such a harsh decree?” Arioch then explained the matter to Daniel. At this, Daniel went in to the king and asked for time, so that he might interpret the dream for him”
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If you have compared with the Hebrew text you can see that NIV has a good translation for these verses. Before we go on, let's compare also the situation with that of the first chapter, so that we can see how Daniel and his friends were growing in their faith.
On Daniel chapter one we read about changing the royal decree of their food and drink, in order to avoid defiling themselves. The story ends with their victory, and gives us a glimpse of some acts of faith which would come. Observing the chronological order of the book, this story about the king's first dream took place in his "second year" (Dn 2:1) corresponding to 604 BC. Most probably the personal relationship between Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar began in chapter two, with the interpretation of this dream.
We had seen Daniel treating with Melzar, who was appointed as their chief by Aspenaz; now he's addressing Arioch, the commander of the king's guard. And in every case the Scripture gives us a testimony of Daniel's wisdom in his way to deal with authorities - remember he is a Hebrew slave before high Babylonian officers. What a difference with the unjust treatment of Nebuchadnezzar toward his "advisers"! Nevertheless, do not think that he was some kind of incompetent king. In secular history he is known as a king who extended the limits of Babylonia, augmented the splendor of the city and, in short, made the empire stronger. But about spiritual matters, the supernatural and unknown ones, he was so ignorant as the team of sorcerers, astrologers and witches which gave him advise. Besides, to invade Judah and take the Jewish people in captivity made him an enemy of God's people.
Observe also how Daniel and his friends are about to take a more serious step of faith. The deal in the preceding chapter required from them to keep themselves healthy with a deficient diet, but now they were supposed to reveal to Nebuchadnezzar the contents and the meaning of his dream. Wow! Who doesn't want that kind of faith? Is it a gift of God only for Daniel, or for everyone who believes?
Let's go through some features of the faith they showed:
1) Observe the meekness of Daniel in dealing with the matter, "with wisdom and tact". This wisdom is "etá" in Aramaic, from the same root of the verb "yeát" corresponding to the Hebrew "yaáts", "to advise" or "to give counsel". It is a quality of the Messiah in Isaiah 9:6. Daniel didn't rebel against the injustice of being threatened of death (without even knowing what was going on) and certainly wasn't intimidated either because of that ("meekness" isn't "cowardice" as some people believe) The psychological "fight or flight" response is the natural answer to a death menace, depending of the prevailing emotion (anger or fear). But the Holy Spirit gave Daniel a different solution: to serve the unjust one.
2) The confidence of Daniel in God's wisdom and His ability to reveal. We have seen the apparently logical answer of the Chaldeans, "the gods don't dwell with the flesh" (Dn 2:11) and that's why "we can't know the things they know". But Daniel had another revelation about God. He believed in a God who can abide in human beings (remember that Daniel was a Hebrew who was very versed in the Scriptures; now seek through the Old Testament how many times we can read, "the Spirit of the Lord came upon...")
3) The belief that God had a purpose with them, and that He wouldn't abandon them until that purpose was fulfilled. In Genesis 28:15 we can see a good example of God's faithfulness, dealing with the "swindler" Jacob (which is a proof that mercy is from God and from Him alone). There are many persons that know something about God, and som even believe that He is able to transform lives, to heal the sick, to deliver the demon possessed, etc BUT they don't see themselves worthy of being used as God's instrument to accomplish all these wonders. If you belong to that group, ask from the Lord who was right, Daniel or the Chaldeans.
In a previous message (Dn 1:10-13) we spoke about faith also, and how the Lord "untied" my faith from its chains and came to me, to show me that I surely had faith; just a "little faith" which needed to grow. Growth in faith can lead us to situations which should seem impossible for us, if somebody tell to us in the beginning. But with God there's nothing impossible.
The following happened 1995, a few months after our arrival to Sweden. Because the rejection of our application for political asylum - which is a longer story that's not relevant now - we found ourselves in a demonstration in Sergel's Square, Stockholm. There we met our pastor Luis Berrios, who prayed for us and was a great help and support for us who were participating in a hunger strike (we demanded not to be deported back, among other things)
We met there another Christians, who invited us to their church, Södermalmskyrka, in the southern part of the capital. The message on that day was about the book of Esther, where the Jewish people was about to be exterminated in a massacre but was delivered by queen Esther intercession before the king, while the people engaged in fast. At the end of the message, the pastor made a call to all those who were in need of prayer, to come to the front so that he should pray for them. In that very day, there were a lot of "needs" to be prayed for (from the human perspective) We had no identity, no job, no home, no future and no hope. But all these things evaporate and became like nothing in that very moment; when he asked me, the only need which came out from mi lips were, "to be filled with the Holy Spirit".
The Holy Spirit is God. In theology he is called "the third Person of the Trinity" and is rather ignored, if we compare with the attention given to God the Father, or the Lord Jesus Christ. But he is God also, so godlike as the Father and the Son. He convinces us of sin and leads us to receive Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, He shows us the glory of the Father and the glory of His Son, He reveals to us the things that God has written in the Bible (His Word) and He transforms our character and our spiritual life to Christ's likeness. The Holy Spirit is the "seal" which marks us as God's own, and He is who testifies with our spirit that we are God's children.
There were a large group of believers who came to the pastor's call, and while he was praying for their needs, I was standing with my hands raised to heaven; the only word that came from my lips in that moment was "Hallelujah" in the presence of God. When all the other ones were gone back to their seats, I was still standing alone with my petition. Then the pastor summoned in prayer the whole congregation, for me and my wish. When he saw that I only praised God, he touched me gently and said to me, "let the tongues flow". Then my "Hallelujah" became an unknown language (which was clear and articulated, but incomprehensible) I was baptized in the Holy Spirit, and I was speaking in tongues, as the believers of the New Testament in the book of Acts!
This gift of "speaking in different kinds of tongues" is one of those that the Spirit of God gives us to enable us to serve Him in his work. And it is promised by God to every one who believes. When you found yourself speaking in an unknown language, your spirit perceives that something supernatural is happening, because supernatural is this gift and all the other ones which come from the Spirit of God. And we need FAITH to use these gifts, because God gives them to us but He doesn't force us to use them.
After this we began to attend "Iglesia del Pueblo" - by that time, "Iglesia Nueva Jerusalén" (those names mean "People's Church" and "New Jerusalem Church", respectively) The Lord hid us "in the shelter of His sacred tent" in "the day of trouble" (Psalms 27:5), a "day" which lasted three years as illegal immigrants. But sometimes is precisely in the middle of the crisis when the power of God becomes manifested, as it happened with Daniel and his friends, which saw the hand of God working in its power when they were captives in Babylon.
Our church were growing, even when most of us were illegal immigrants, and in that condition, established connections of brotherhood with other congregations, invited preachers and leaders of worship, both Swedish and foreign and carried out Conferences. The power of God is made perfect in weakness. On the eve of one of these meetings, Satan attacked us strongly, but God gave us the victory, as you'll see.
We had been rehearsing with the church choir, that was a rather short one - which implicated that every voice was practically indispensable. If you are not acquainted with these matters, let me explain. A choir can sing "in unison" - as the congregations do - or in different "voices", as choirs do. But almost all choirs use to sing "in voices". In that occasion, all the praises that we should sing had been arranged and rehearsed in months. Then the evil one attacked us. The main soloist, a beautiful girl which the Lord has endowed with the gift of praising God - bringing heaven nearer to the hearts of them who listen praises to Jesus Christ - became sick with pneumonia, which make us unable to sing an casts us in bed for some time. But it isn't all; remember that we were illegal immigrants. If you go to a hospital in that condition, you'll be identified and sent to the police, in order to be deported immediately. Can you imagine our situation?
I was with her, praying to the Lord, and the only word He gave me was "these signs will accompany those who believe... they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well". But this powerful promise of God - spoken by Jesus Christ self - is one of them which I had never "taken" to me. I didn't see myself as an instrument of God to carry on these "kind of things". I could cancel the work of several months, and run a simple set of praises in unison without her participation (but it isn't what she wanted, neither what God wanted). I could go to the hospital, but at the clear and present risk of being imprisoned and deported. While I was thinking about multiple solutions, I was also praying, and the only word I received from God was, "...they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well". It is a blessing that the Word of God is written and that it is unchangeable, because we human are very changeable. When we have nothing to lean us in, humanly thinking, the Word of God remains, eternal and unchangeable. Then I BELIEVED. I believed that the Spirit of God was able to use me, I believed that the promise of God was able to endow us who believe with God's power, I believed that God wanted to heal her and I believed that God wanted to use me. And I prayed for supernatural healing, believing in God's power.
Then a miracle took place! She sat up in bed and spewed some liquid from her bronchioles. Then the inflammation and the fever disappeared, and she was ready to open the meeting with the first song of praise. In the middle of that crisis, the Lord had confirmed me another spiritual gift which comes from the Holy Spirit, healing. It is not that I wasn't aware of this. On the contrary, since childhood I saw my grandmother praying for healing of the sick ones. Even under communist regimes many persons believe in God. But I had never considered that those kind of things were something I could do, something "for me". I was an atheist, and that which my grandmother did was for me rather mysterious and incomprehensible. The Lord moved me a step forward in my faith.
If you want to grow in faith, then it is necessary to grow in the knowledge of God. God's promises are in the Bible not only to be read but to be believed. When you believe, the power of God works through your faith. God could send angels to preach the gospel and save te lost ones, but He chose to send human beings, created in his image and likeness, especially the believing ones. Daniel believed that God would reveal to him the dream of the king. Do you believe that God wants to use you as an instrument of salvation?
To you who haven't yet received Christ as your Lord and Savior, let me tell you this: He has a plan to save your soul, and He will never abandon you even in the middle of the greatest crisis of your life. Friends can abandon you, relatives can abandon you, fellow-workers can abandon you. But Jesus Christ will never abandon you. Even though you "walk through the darkest valley", He will be with you. That's His promise, not only for king David who wrote this glorious Psalm, but for all believers.
May the Lord bless you. In the love of Christ, your brother
PS Jesus is coming soon!