Today we are going to look at bold hope. So often we see hope as a soft, gentle, wistful type of thing. However, hope can be bold. Yesterday we touched on the difference between faith and hope. Faith is what you know God can do in the moment. Hope is the same confidence but for future events. So just like faith can be bold, hope can also be bold. So today we are going to take a look at Daniel and his three friends: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
If you follow along in your Bible, you will notice that we skipped over a LOT of books in the Old Testament! So let’s take a moment to catch up a little. Moses has led God’s people out of Egypt (where they were enslaved) and Joshua has led them to the Promised Land. After a while, the people wanted a ruler, so God appointed judges to help govern the people. Then the people wanted kings, like the other nations. So, God appointed kings. Kings Saul, David, Solomon, and a host of others have all reigned. Due to infighting, the nation has split into two sections: the Northern Kingdom (Israel) and the Southern Kingdom (Judah). The Northern Kingdom has fallen, conquered by Assyria. About 100 years later, the Southern Kingdom is conquered by Babylon. This is where our story starts.
Under Babylon rule, there were three deportations of Israelites (God’s chosen people). During the first deportation, Daniel and his three friends were taken to the city of Babylon. As captives, they travelled hundreds of miles. They had a long time to think on what was happening. They undoubtedly heard the prophet Jeremiah’s warnings running through their heads. They remembered the prophet Isaiah’s words about the ransacking of the Temple. They had plenty of time to think themselves into a hopeless stupor.
But they didn’t. As soon as they entered into the king’s palace in order to become part of the palace inner workings, they decided they were going to be different. They had been given new names, but they were still going to be loyal to the one true God. The king, through his chief officer, ordered Daniel and his friends, along with others, to train for their new positions. The first thing they had to do was eat and drink from the king’s table. Daniel and his friends refused because it went against God’s law. This was their faith. However, when the official told them he was afraid to allow them to refuse, Daniel offered up a test.
Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, “Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.” So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days.
Daniel 1:11-14 NIV
This is the first of several instances of bold hope. You see, although their faith was what gave them the ability to take a stand, it was their bold hope that threw down a gauntlet to the official. They had hope that God would stand by them and prove that obeying him was more important than obeying a king. And that is exactly what happened.
At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead.
To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.
At the end of the time set by the king to bring them into his service, the chief official presented them to Nebuchadnezzar. The king talked with them, and he found none equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah; so they entered the king’s service. In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom.
Daniel 1:15-20 NIV
Not only did God make sure that they were healthier than the rest, but he bestowed upon them extra wisdom, knowledge, and abilities so that they prospered in their new positions. Because of their bold hope, they were able to overcome resistance.
That’s not the end of the story! Daniel and his friends had many more extreme circumstances. All were opportunities to lose hope, to give in, and to just quit. They didn’t.
The king has had a dream. He has ordered all the wise men to interpret it. Not only must they interpret it, but they must tell him what the dream was! He wasn’t even going to tell them the dream! If they couldn’t do it, they would be killed. Pretty horrifically, I might add. Needless to say, they could not do it. The king got so furious that he ordered all the wise men to be killed.
When the guards came to get Daniel and his friends, they didn’t panic. They held on to the hope that their God would save them. So Daniel asked for time, and the friends got together and they prayed.
When Arioch, the commander of the king’s guard, had gone out to put to death the wise men of Babylon, Daniel spoke to him with wisdom and tact. He asked the king’s officer, “Why did the king issue such a harsh decree?” Arioch then explained the matter to Daniel. At this, Daniel went in to the king and asked for time, so that he might interpret the dream for him.
Then Daniel returned to his house and explained the matter to his friends Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. He urged them to plead for mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that he and his friends might not be executed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven
Daniel 2:14-19 NIV
You see, Daniel and his friends prayed with the hope that God would deliver them from death. Their hope was a bold hope. Daniel had such bold hope that he went before the king, the one so furious he was going to kill all the wise men, and asked for time so that he could interpret the dream. Remember, Daniel had to tell the king what his dream was and then interpret it. Impossible without God. Daniel had hope that God would deliver them.
When Daniel and his friends prayed, God answered. He gave Daniel a vision and revealed it all! Daniel then went to the king, told him what his dream was, and then gave him the interpretation. This was the king’s response.
Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell prostrate before Daniel and paid him honor and ordered that an offering and incense be presented to him. The king said to Daniel, “Surely your God is the God of gods and the Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, for you were able to reveal this mystery.”
Daniel 2:46-47 NIV
Once again, Daniel’s bold hope brought glory to God in major ways. The king of a hugely polytheistic culture was honoring the one true God. God’s power was on display because of the bold hope Daniel displayed. Without Daniel’s hope, he and his friends would’ve perished.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t take long for the king to forget about the one true God. He builds a 90 foot golden statue of himself and orders everyone to bow to it. If you don’t, you will die by fire. In fact, he has a huge furnace there for everyone to see, just in case they thought he was joking. Daniel is not on the scene here, but his friends are. They do not bow down.
At this time some astrologers came forward and denounced the Jews. They said to King Nebuchadnezzar, “May the king live forever! Your Majesty has issued a decree that everyone who hears the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music must fall down and worship the image of gold, and that whoever does not fall down and worship will be thrown into a blazing furnace. But there are some Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon—Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego—who pay no attention to you, Your Majesty. They neither serve your gods nor worship the image of gold you have set up.”
Furious with rage, Nebuchadnezzar summoned Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. So these men were brought before the king,
Daniel 3:8-13 NIV
Yeah, someone tattled. It’s an ongoing problem in the palace. When you stand for God, many will stand against you. They told the king, and he was furious, and astounded. So much so that he gave them a second chance by repeating all the instructions to them again. Their answer to the king epitomizes bold hope. It is one of my favorite set of verses in the Bible.
and Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up? Now when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?”
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”
Daniel 3:14-18 NIV
You see, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had a solidified hope. That hope gave them the faith in the moment to stand their ground. However, it was their bold hope that allowed them to be at peace telling the king that God coulddeliver them from the fire, but if he didn’the would still be delivering them from the hand of the king. In other words, “King, God CAN save us from this fire. But if he chooses not to, we still win because we will be in heaven and no longer under your rule! Either way, we will not bow!”
That is a bold hope. It is hope in heaven. It is hope in something after death. That hope was so strong that they faced down a burning furnace. The king was so angry he ordered the furnace 7 times hotter. It was so hot that the people near the entrance were burned up. However, after the friends were bound and thrown in the fire, a fourth person showed up.
Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?”
They replied, “Certainly, Your Majesty.”
He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”
Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!”
So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire, and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.
Daniel 3:24-27 NIV
They were not burnt, they were not injured, their clothes had not been touched by fire, and they didn’t even smelllike smoke! What did the king do?
Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way.”
Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the province of Babylon.
Daniel 3:28-30 NIV
Again, through bold hope, the ruler of a nation recognized the power of the one true God. Again, God rewarded their hope by delivering them. Bold hope results in bold happenings.
It is often hard to have bold hope the way Daniel and his friends had. We have that kind of hope when we hold fast to the word of God. Daniel and his friends knew that no matter what happened, they would one day be with God himself, in heaven. They knew that God was all-powerful and all-knowing. This gave them their hope. They knew that God could deliver them out ofanysituation. If he chose not to, they still were on the winning side. They would be in heaven with no more sorrow and no more pain, only joy. Because of their hope, they took bold stances. Those stances led to mighty shows of God’s power.
Thank you for your word. Thank you for loving me enough to save me from my sins and to prepare a place for me after my earthly death. Fill me with bold hope. Help me to constantly remember your promises and to stand firm on them, even when faced with insurmountable situations.
In Jesus’ Name,
- Do you have bold hope?
- What keeps you from being bold in your expectations?
- Ask the Holy Spirit to show you what hope you can have in Jesus.