Daniel 3:19-20

Daniel 3:19-20

"Then the wrath of the king vanished. His eyes were shining with admiration because of the words of his slaves who defended their God, and because of the determination he saw in them; they would rather die instead of worship other gods. A new feeling for him called humility was growing stronger and stronger in his heart and, as he began to understand his own human littleness in the presence of the Almighty God who created heavens and earth, his interest about this God was growing more and more. He asked the Jews for forgiveness, apologized because of his death menace, and eagerly begged them to talk to him about that awesome God of them..."

What do you say? Isn't this passage in your Bible in this verses?

No. Neither in my Bible. But don't worry, it is just a variant which doesn't exist, but which could happen if the king would be just a little humbler. His pride and wrath didn't let him to see in those Hebrew slaves the powerful faith that the Holy Spirit had given them, through their relationship with God and the knowledge of His word. The king thought that he was dealing with some rebel slaves, and instead of repenting of his sin - to ordain idolatry for the whole nation - he ordered to kill the only ones who showed him to be wrong. Observe the very good translation of NIV, from the original Aramaic, about that which did happen:

Daniel 3:19-20

"Then Nebuchadnezzar was furious with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and his attitude toward them changed. He ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual and commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace"

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We live in a world which goes faster and faster. I can remember my first dwelling in Sweden, a nice cottage we rented in a beautiful island called Adelsö, circa two hours from Stockholm by bus and metro. We could take a wonderful bus to go to the metro station and then change to a train to Stockholm. By that time we could travel by bus... five times a day. Please don't think that public transportation in Sweden is so scarce. This is only typical in remote rural zones, with little population which, besides, have vehicles of their own (I think that more bus routes are not ordered because the buses should go empty)

But we were talking about this faster world of us. In many busstops in Stockholm, the case is the contrary; buses come with 2 or 3 minutes interval. And in rush hour you see them full of persons, going to or coming from their labors. If you live in a capital or other populated city, maybe you'll see the same thing. We live in a time of hurry. In our bustle, we are seeking for ways to make things faster. I can remember those delicious beans which my mother cooked and took some hours. Nowadays, most of my cooking takes less than thirty minutes, and a significant part of it takes 10-15 minutes. We seat in our PC, seek something in Google and get 10 000 sites in some seconds. We make use of instant soups, instant mashed potato, instant coffee...

But the faith in God isn't always an "instant" operating thing. There are many reasons, for instance, the one we see here: the ungodly are not always touched by the words of the believers and inspired to seek God, but rather they persist in their opinion and reject the truth. This is an extreme: the powerful declaration of Daniel's friends, instead of changing the king, caused him to be even more angry, so he ordered their death.

Nevertheless, the fact that something takes its time doesn't mean that it will not happen. This earth where we live took probably millions of years to God to fix; most of us take him nine months; the Arab Spring... well, we don't know yet how long it will take, or the outcome of it. If you are in the way of faith, remember a definition of "faith" as we read it in Hebrews 11:1, "Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see". This definition means that faith involves "hope", something we're supposed to wait for. Have you noticed the examples we've got in believers of solid faith?

Abraham, who's been called "the father of all who believe", waited many years - when both he and his wife Sarah were in old age - to see the fulfillment of God's promise, a descendant from his wife. His great-grandson Joseph waited many years - most of them in jail, having being sold by his brothers and accused by an Egyptian woman - to see the fulfilment of the dreams God have giving him, showing him as some kind of authority. The young David - who could kill king Saul at least two times - waited the time of the king's death to become his successor, even when he knew he was the chosen one and had been anointed by the prophet Samuel. Joseph, Mary's husband, waited until he got an angelic revelation of the why his virgin betrothed was pregnant - this was a death sin and he was supposed to denounce her. The disciples in the upper room - in the book of Acts chapters 1, 2 - kept praying and waited until the coming of the Holy Spirit.

And this wait is not at all an "inactive" one. The disciples of the Lord, praying for the Spirit to come, could become cold and give up after some days without some results. Joseph the husband of Mary was being tempted to abandon her. The king to be, David, was persecuted to death by king Saul, and in this condition, he pardoned Saul's life at least two times, putting his own life in danger. Joseph, Israel's son, lived as slave and went through many trials in his years in Egypt before he became an important official in the court of Pharaoh. Abraham followed Sarah's counsel and conceived a son with his Egyptian slave girl, who was called Ishmael and who wasn't the one God had promised to him. This was a stumbling block when Isaac was born, and even before, causing rivalry between the slave woman and his wife.

If there's something we can learn from the example of the believers is that faith is not a "magic wand". Maybe you've read those fantastic stories for children where a fairy godmother is able to transform anybody in a frog instantly, just by touching him with her wand. Faith has nothing to do with this. It is either the shortcut in your desk to click and start the "blessings" program in the "PC" of your existence. The way of the faith leads us sometimes to situations where the "PC" gets frozen (and then you stop doing that which belongs to faith, because you don't see any results) or get infested with virus (and you do things that doesn't occur in faith, seeking results anyway)

We didn't receive faith to be free from problems and trials. That's a promise we've never got from the Lord. But He did promise to be with us in all trials, and to give us His Holy Spirit, the only one who is able to restart your "frozen PC" or show you the "virus" which infest your life, and how to get rid of them. Daniel's friends, in answer to their valiant declaration of faith, went to the blazing furnace. But they didn't gave up. Are you tempted to give up about some decision you've taken by faith? Keep reading!

May the Lord bless you

In the love of Christ, your brother

Israel Leonard

PS. Jeus comes quickly!

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