Around 2,500 years ago, three young men stood up to the most powerful ruler in the world, refused to bow down to a false god, and when threatened with torture and death, declared, “[T]he God we serve is able to deliver us… and He will deliver us” (Daniel 3:17). Those young men, along with their friend Daniel, chose to honor God in a culture filled with people who worshiped idols. Their courage has inspired believers for centu-ries and comes fresh to us in our time of cultural and spiritual upheaval.
During October, I will preach from Daniel, one of the Old Testament’s most thrilling and uplifting books. We continue to read Daniel’s story and prophecies because, like all OT books, his words were inspired by the Holy Spirit, point ahead to Jesus’ coming, and motivate us to lead lives that honor God in the midst of a broken and dangerous world.
We will read about how Daniel and his Jewish friends were chosen to serve in the Babylonian court, where they gained favor and prominence despite boldly following God’s ways instead of the pagan ways of that land. In much the same way, we live in a culture that largely ignores God’s word and celebrates those who do what God declares sinful and immoral. Will we, like Daniel, have courage to do what is right even if it means ridicule and rejection by the people of our land?
We will read about the three young men who were thrown into the blazing furnace for refusing to bow down to an idol and about how God miraculously protected them from the flames. Today, we face many temp-tations to bow down to false gods and idolatrous agendas. Will we, like Daniel’s friends, stand boldly on the good news of Jesus in the face of temptations and threats?
We will read about how God humbled King Nebuchadnezzar and how his heart was changed from idol worship and self-righteousness to honoring the one true God. Many people of power and wealth today refuse to acknowledge God and His authority over their lives. Will we, with Daniel, pray for our leaders, asking God to change their hearts and draw them to Himself through Jesus Christ?
We will read about Daniel’s heart of fervent prayer and how God rescued him from the lion’s den where he was thrown for daring to pray to the Lord. We live in a culture that often ignores God’s mighty hand and belittles the prayers of His people. Will we, like Daniel, pray anyway, believing that God hears and an-swers the faithful prayers of His church?
We will read about how Daniel confessed the sins of his people and asked God to have mercy on them and restore them to the Promised Land. Our land has been a place where God blessed and protected His peo-ple, but those days seem now to be fading away. Will we, with Daniel and so many other faithful believers, confess our sins and plead for God’s mercy to flow over His church and over our nation again?
God’s word speaks into our lives in surprising and beautiful ways. May the Spirit continue to reveal truth to us, and may we have courage to honor God and follow Jesus each day.