Thoughts to Ponder: Chapter 11
Chapter 11: Risking Their Lives to Honor God ~ Daniel 3:8-30
Q1 – Reread verses 16-18 and consider what a powerful statement these men made in the face of certain death.
A1 – Could there be any greater statement in the Bible of what faith in God means? Faced with what appeared to be certain death, these men proclaimed their confidence that God would somehow deliver them. However, they knew then, just as we know today, that our idea of what needs to happen doesn’t always align with what God wants to happen. So, instead of demanding God do their bidding, they proclaimed their faith in Him, regardless of what He chose to happen.
Think of other examples of faith in the Bible. A good scripture to remind you of the many who have gone before is Hebrews 11. Let their faith inspire you to always continue in yours, for we, together with them, will be made perfect! (See verse 40.)
Read Romans 8 and let the words of this powerful chapter soak in. Perhaps print off the following verses to put on the fridge where you can see them frequently: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35-39, NIV)
Q2 – How would it affect you if you had to live from day to day under the rule of someone who created life or death situations for you and who was given to such rage?
A2 – Some of us would find it hard to even function in such an environment. It seems that death was the punishment of choice for the people living during this time. And such imaginative, gruesome deaths at that—being burned in a fiery furnace or eaten by lions. Often it wouldn’t be just you, but your entire family as well. Obviously, keeping the people in constant fear of their lives served to ensure their instant obedience to the king’s commands. You would have to have a faith strong enough to be willing to die for your convictions.
Q3 – Does God always deliver His people from death? Why or why not? Consider Stephen and other early Christians. (Acts 7:54-8:3)
A3 – Stephen is often referred to as the first Christian martyr. During the early days of Christianity, many believers were persecuted and killed. While Stephen was killed by Jews, many other Christians were later killed by the Romans. (See the article, “Nero Persecutes The Christians, 64 AD.”) In an effort to escape this tyranny, the Christians who survived scattered to wherever they could go. This, in turn, helped spread the Gospel across the entire region. (See the article, “Persecution in the Early Church.”)
Why does God chose to deliver some from death but not others? God views things differently than we do. He sees the big picture and acts according to His purpose. Death holds no fear for Christians, because their reward lies in the spiritual realm, not the physical. As Paul stated in Philippians 1:21 (NIV), “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” He was torn between his desire to depart the flesh in order to be with Christ eternally or to live in the flesh and continue to labor on earth for Christ. Truly, physical death is not a punishment for Christians. And for those God does deliver from death, it would seem that He still has work for them to do on earth.