5. With You in the Fire: Daniel
Not only will God deliver you from the fire, he is with you in the fire even now
I make a decree that in all the dominion of my kingdom men are to fear and tremble before the God of Daniel;
For He is the living God and enduring forever,
And His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed,
And His dominion will be forever.
“He delivers and rescues and performs signs and wonders
In heaven and on earth,
Who has also delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.”
The book of Daniel takes place during the Babylonian judgment, where Israel has been exiled as punishment for their sin. At the beginning of the book, three exiled Israelites named Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego are chosen to be advisors to the Babylonian king. They serve him faithfully, but when they are ordered to bow down and worship an idol statue, they refuse out of their loyalty to the God of Israel. The king sentences these three men to death and throws them into a fiery furnace.
However, when the king looks into the furnace, he sees something astonishing! “I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods,” he says (Daniel 3:25). The three men walk out of the furnace, unharmed. In this, we see that God not only delivered his people from the fire, he was with them in the fire.
Daniel is another Israelite given a position in the King’s palace. Daniel excels and flourishes in his job, but soon a group of Babylonian men become jealous and plot to bring him down.
They catch Daniel disobeying a law that prohibits prayer to any other than the Babylonian king and have him thrown into a lion’s den. But again, God proves to keep his people safe, and he miraculously closes the mouths of the lions to save Daniel!
Humbling himself, the Babylonian king then declares that God’s kingdom and reign will last forever, and he commands his people to praise Daniel’s God as well.
Throughout his career, Daniel works under many kings. The ones who flourish are those who humble themselves before God and his reign. But the ones who meet their downfall are those who glorify their own power and don’t worship God as the ultimate king.
God gives Daniel several visions that center on this theme of God’s reign. In these visions, Daniel sees beasts that represent arrogant kings and kingdoms persecuting God’s people. But at the end of every vision, God destroys and triumphs over the beasts!
Although he is able, God doesn’t always rescue his people out of their physical suffering like he did Daniel and the other three Israelites. The point of Daniel’s visions is to give God’s people hope within their suffering! One day, God will rescue the whole world from evil and bring his reign of peace over all.
This victory was won at Jesus’s death and resurrection, where Jesus defeated the beast of evil and ushered in the age of God’s reign! Those who believe in Jesus can experience liberation from evil and possess new life now! Because sin still exists in the world, we will not experience this restoration fully. However, at Christ’s second coming, God will fully implement his reign in the new creation, ruling over and restoring all things.
Like Daniel and his friends experienced, obedience to God today can be difficult. It can be tempting to compromise our trust in God for the enticement of tangible might and size. Maybe the glory of social approval feels weightier than the delight of God. Maybe the soundness of money and success appear stronger than the security of God. Maybe to even just survive, you feel you must comply with the God-adverse culture around you.
When you feel pulled to compromise, remember that God will one day destroy the evil that threatens you and venerate you and your faithfulness! Not only will God deliver you from the fire, he is with you in the fire even now!
RESPOND: Take a moment to ask God to grow courageous faithfulness in you today as you trust in his reign.