Wednesday, May 17, 2017

HEBREWS 11:33-35

"...who by faith conquered kingdoms,
performed acts of righteousness,
obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions,
quenched the power of fire,
escaped the edge of the sword,
from weakness were made strong,
became mighty in war,
put foreign armies to flight. 
Women received back their dead by resurrection..."

We're overlapping a bit, but there is no way I'm skipping over that great story of Daniel in the lion's den, or Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace, or peeking at those women who received their dead by resurrection.

"Then Daniel spoke to the king,
'O king, live forever!
My God sent His angel and shut the lions' mouths
and they have not harmed me,
inasmuch as I was found innocent before Him;
and toward you, O king,
I have committed no crime.
Then the king was very pleased and gave orders
for Daniel to be taken up, out of the den.
So Daniel was taken up out of the den
and no injury whatever was found on him."
(Judges 6:21-23)

By faith. 
Daniel's faith. 
His heart was innocent. 
His faith was completely in his God. 
God sent His angel who shut the lions' mouths.
Have you ever wondered how the angel did that?
Did he click his fingers?  Did he stare them down?
Did he physically wrestled them down, one by one?
Did they growl, roar, or purr?

Daniel didn't wake up the morning before he was thrown into the lions' and decide to flex his faith muscles.  No, he had worked out daily exercises his faith  routine to build up strength.  He had to work out his faith with heavy weights.  His people had been conquered, Jerusalem besieged.  Nope, he didn't wake up one morning deciding to become a reality show by allowing himself to be thrown into the yawning jaws of vicious wild beasts.  He had suffered.  He felt loss.  Usually what happens in a siege is that the rulers and the people are killed with only those who the conqueror thinks can be useful to him survive.  Most likely, Daniel's whole family had been killed or at best became enslaved.

"Then the king ordered...the chief of his officials,
to bring in some of the sons of Israel,
including some of the royal family and of the nobles,
youths in whom was no defect, who were good-looking,
showing intelligence in every branch of wisdom,
endowed with understanding and discerning knowledge,
and who had ability for serving in the king's court...
But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself
with the king's choice food or with the wine which he drank...
As for these four youths, God gave them knowledge and intelligence
in every branch of literature and wisdom;
and Daniele even understood all kinds of visions and dreams
(Daniel 1:3-17)

But Daniel's faith had not been built up without many tests, the flexing of his strength of faith.  We, however, want instant faith to deliver us from the pits we find ourselves in.  Daniel was not alone in this weight room working out.  His buddies--who had been renamed by the king, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego--were there sweating with him.  As it would have it, these three had a different test of faith, a fiery furnace.  Anybody what to accept that challenge?

"'These men, O king, have disregarded you;
they do not serve your gods
or worship the golden image which you have set up.'
Then Nebuchadnezzar in rage and anger
gave orders to bring Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego;
then these men were brought before the king.
Nebuchadnezzar responded and said to them,
'Is it true, Shadrach,Meshach and Abednego,
that you do not serve my gods or
worship the golden image that I have set up?...
But if you do not worship,
you will immediately be cast
into the midst of a furnace of blazing fie;
and what god is there who can deliver you out of my hands?'
...If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us
from the furnace of blazing fire;
and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king.
But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king,
that we are not going to serve your gods
or worship the golden image that you have set up.
Then Nebuchadnezzar was filled with wrath,
and his facial expression was altered toward
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. 
He answered by giving orders to heat the furnace
seven times more than it was usually heated.
He commanded certain valiant warriors who
were in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego
in order to cast them into the furnace of blazing fire.
Then these men were tied up in their trousers,
their coats, their caps and their other clothes, and
were cast into the midst of the furnace of blazing fire.
For this reason, because the king's command was urgent and the furnace
had been made extremely hot, the flame of the fire slew those men who carried up
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.  But these three Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego
fell into the midst of the furnace of blazing fire still tied up.

Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astounded and stood up in haste;
he said to his high officials, 'Was it not three men we cast bound into the midst of the fire?'
They replied to the king, 'Certainly, O king.'  He said, 'Look! I see four men loosed
and walking about in the midst of the fire without harm,
and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods!'
...the fire had no effect on the bodies of these men
nor was the hair of their head singed,
nor were their trousers damaged,
not had the smell of fire even come upon them."
(Daniel 3:12-27)

Adam Clarke says, "'Quenched the violence of fire.' (KJV)...

'Escaped the edge of the sword' Moses,
who escaped the sword of Pharaoh (Exodus 18);
Elijah, that of Jezebel; and David, that of
Saul and many others.

'Out of weakness were made strong'
Were miraculously restored from sickness,
which seemed to threaten their life;
as Hezekiah, (Isaiah 38:21)

'Waxed valiant in fight'
Like Gideon, who over-threw the camp of the Midianites,
and Jonathan, that of the Philistines,
(He climbed up a sheer cliff as a young man coming face to face with the enemy)
in such a way as must have proved that God was with them.

'Women received their dead'
As did the widow of Zarephath, (I Kings 17:21)
and the Shunamite (II Kings 4:34)"

Walk by faith.

Each and every one of these mentioned were examples of people who walked by faith.  Does it make you want to take up a sword?  No, me either.  Valiant in fight.  That rules me out.  How about being so sick, you need to be restored or even raised from the dead?  What?  No volunteers?
These people, real people--not characters in a fairy tale--did not wake up with a Samson like faith.  They had to work up their faith muscles from puny to strong.  How's your workout going?

Did you hear this story?
How 'bout that!
God still uses lions for His purposes.


No comments:

Post a Comment