I am sitting on my bed with fresh clean sheets. I love clean sheets. My wonderful children are at their dad’s house, which means I will have this entire bed to myself tonight. Though, I don’t feel like sleeping. I’ve been in a lot of pain today, but I took a TON of my painkillers and I was able to not only function, but get some really important things done. I just couldn’t bear wasting an alone day. I can’t take that many painkillers two days in a row, so I’m determined to get as much done today as possible, because tomorrow I am probably going to feel like dying. Life with Lyme….it’s better than no life at all.
I wanted to share something I recently taught the children during our family scripture time. I’m taking the children through the book of Daniel. Yes, again. I really treasure that book. I always wanted to name one of my boys Daniel, but kept naming them after people we cared about that didn’t have children of their own. If I’m ever blessed enough to remarry and have another child, the boy will be Daniel!
The passage I want to write about is in chapter three, so I’ll need to do a quick overview of the first two chapters to put it in context. Maybe I’ll get to do some real posts about the first two chapters, because there is so much rich application in them. For now, here’s the speed version.
The year is around 605 BC. (give or take a year). Israel had been quite naughty for some time. God had patiently and, at times, sternly warned them through many prophets. If they didn’t repent, He would send the Babylonians to discipline them. The Babylonians—a fierce nation, whose very name caused other lands to tremble. Nebuchadnezzar, their king, was a ruthless man. He loved ripping people to pieces, sometimes literally. One of his punishments was to pull two trees into a bent position, tie one of the prisoner’s limbs to each tree and then cut the tension ropes, allowing the trees to snap back into their position, while ripping the prisoner’s body in half. Nice man.
You’d think knowing the Babylonian reputation the people would heed the prophets and repent, but there were also false prophets who kept reassuring the Israelis that there would be peace and the other prophets were just hate-mongers. Persecution of true prophets was rampant. Sound familiar?
Well, the word of God was fulfilled and Babylon came and besieged Israel in three stages. In the first stage Daniel was taken captive to serve in King Nebuchadnezzar’s court along with three of his friends: Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. They are more commonly known by the names Nebuchadnezzar gave them: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. Daniel was about 14 or 15 years old at the time of his capture. The young men underwent three years of training and indoctrination and then were placed in the king’s service.
Nebuchadnezzar (called Nebby at our house) had a dream that worried him. He wanted his wise men to interpret the dream for him, but he was sure they would just make up an interpretation to appease him. To avoid that problem, Nebby decided to make the wise men tell him what his dream was before they interpreted it, that way he could know they really had the power to help him. The wise men were flabbergasted. No king had ever required that before. It was downright impossible to do. Well, Nebby wasn’t too happy with that answer, so he sentenced all his servants to death.
Daniel, however, had a plan. He sought favor from God to know the dream and its interpretation, which God granted him. Then he was hurriedly brought before the King. In humility and with great courage he told Nebuchadnezzar that no man is able to do what the King has requested, but there is a God in Heaven that speaks to men and He has let Daniel know the dream and its interpretation.
Basically there was a statue whose head was made of gold, its breast and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of brass, its legs of iron, and its feet was made partly of iron and partly of clay. Each of the parts of the statue represented a different kingdom. Nebuchadnezzar (representing the Babylonian Kingdom) was the head of gold. After him would come other kingdoms. But, then there was a stone. Oh! This stone is so important, I wish I could spend a post just on it! It was cut without hands and destroyed the statue in one fell swoop, then set up a kingdom that would last for eternity. God gave Nebuchadnezzar the dream to give him a glimpse of the future.
Now we’ve arrived to the part I’ve been pondering. In chapter three Nebby builds a huge statue. This one, however, doesn’t just have a head of gold. The entire 90 ft. statue is made of gold from head to toe. It is as if Nebuchadnezzar was standing with his fist to the heaven’s saying, “My kingdom will NOT end no matter what you say.” Just to add more unrighteousness to his folly, he required everyone to bow down and worship the statue when they hear music play. The penalty for refusing is death.
Most of us know how this story goes. Daniel’s three friends (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego) were at the dedication of the statue. However, when the music played they refused to bow. Jealous co-workers reported them to the king. Now is when it really gets interesting. Nebuchadnezzar decided to give them a rare second chance. He said they would play the music again. If they bowed great. If they didn’t… “ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?” Daniel 3:15b
These three amazing young men didn’t even blink. Here is their response to the King:
“O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O King. But if not, be it known unto thee, O King, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” vs. 15-18
The King was beyond angry. The scriptures tell us that even his visage contorted with rage. He ordered the furnace heated seven times greater than normal and had the three young men bound and tossed into the flames. The intensity of the heat was so powerful that the soldiers ordered to carry them to the furnace perished.
Instantly, Nebuchadnezzar was on his feet in astonishment. He saw was four men walking freely in the furnace. He called them to come out of the furnace. The King and his court were amazed. Not only were the men unharmed by the flames, but neither their hair nor clothing was singed. They didn’t even have the smell of fire on them.
Here is part of the King’s response:
“Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, who hath sent His angel, and delivered His servants that trusted in Him, and have changed the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God. Therefore I make a decree, that every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, shall be cut in pieces…”
When these young men committed their lives to serving God, they did not insert qualifiers. They belonged to God, body and soul. Whatever He did with them was up to Him. We are called to make that same commitment, and like these blessed Israelites we are to yield up our bodies as well. How do we do that?
It’s not just the BIG things like sacrificing our lives for the gospel. First, it is simply obeying the things we already know to do. Keep our baptismal covenants. How that is lived out daily is different for each of us. I had to give up a lot to get baptized. The life I am left with is aging me much more quickly than I would have if I had remained at my old church. I’m plain tired and worn out, but I don’t regret it for one moment. Beauty means less to me than righteousness.
Yielding our bodies also means how we fulfill our desires. Do we keep the law of chastity? I’m 43 years old and single. I am not and will not be in a sexual relationship with a man until I am married. Is that always easy? Not really. I often get offers for “entertainment” at one of my jobs. Men invite me out. But, they are not the type of men I would spend an eternity with, so I decline. Periodically, someone tells me I should go out with them just to have some fun. You know, live a little. It doesn’t have to be serious- they say. I think that is a stupid idea. What kind of fun can I really have with them? Men of that type are not going to be content with dinner and conversation. That is all I have to offer.
Yielding our bodies also means doing our best at every responsibility God has called us to. My primary responsibility is to be my children’s mother. I’m in the unenviable position of having to be father also, but mother is my first role. I take it very seriously. Don’t survive your parenting. Be purposeful in it. Make sure you can give a righteous account of the stewardship you were offered of your children. I have other responsibilities too. I’m an employee, which means I am to do my job with excellence and integrity. I also have a home to run. I want to do it in a way which honors and reflects well upon the glory of my Father in heaven.
I want you to reflect upon what yielding up your body means for you in the life God has called you to. Are you doing it well? Are there areas you want to improve? Maybe there is an area that needs to change all together.
In a later chapter of Daniel, he is promoted to second in command of the kingdom. Jealous men tried to find an area of neglect and couldn’t. Daniel fulfilled EVERY responsibility with diligence and excellence. I wish I could say there are no areas of neglect in my life. Just one look at my laundry basket will tell you there is. However, I am striving toward excellence. Hopefully, as I learn to yield more and more, I will give glory to Him in everything I do. Even if I never quite make it in this lifetime, it is a worthy goal in which to pour out my life.