In case we are in doubt about what persevering faith means and its cost, the Hebrew children of Daniel’s generation and of Esther’s generation have a lot to teach us. They faced the same temptations we face today, perhaps in different forms and to different degrees, yet they never flinched on their faith.
When Shedrack, Meshack and Abednego were confronted with the choice of worshipping the image king Nebuchadnezzar had set before them or facing death, they did not equivocate. They took a clear stand of faith never to worship any image other than the Almighty God. “Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the gold image which I have set up? Now if you are ready at the time you hear the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, and you fall down and worship the image which I have made, good! But if you do not worship, you shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you from my hands?” Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up” (Dan.3.14-18 NKJV).
Those were days of absolute rulers, no human rights activism, no advocates or courts of appeal to entertain any appeals or placate the king for disobedience of any kind. The king’s word held sway. Yet, these Hebrew children withstood the threat and intimidation and took a clear stand for God. What a great boldness they displayed! God did not fail to honour them for their boldness and stand.
Perhaps their stand and victory influenced Daniel to equally take a clear position for God when his faith was threatened in same Babylon. Daniel’s colleagues were jealous of his rising profile in Babylon. They knew that they could not find any fault with him except to incriminate him and falsely charge him that he worshipped another God than the king. They made the king enact a decree that if anyone contravened it he would be sent to face the lions. Little did they know how capable Daniel’s God was to save those who serve him. When they tried to incriminate Daniel he remained resolute in faith and worshipped God as he did previously. He was eventually sent to face the lions, but God delivered him. The same lions that were loosed on Daniel eventually mauled his opponents. In the end, Daniel’s persevering faith triumphed. His testimony made the king enact a decree calling on all in Babylon to worship no other God but the God of Daniel.
Though the names of Shedrack, Meshack and Abednego and Daniel were excluded from the list of the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11, their exploits of faith are boldly enshrined in the annals of heaven and future generations would always be inspired by their sacrificial acts of faith. The list of heroes and heroines of faith is by no means exhaustive. You and I could make the list if we persevere in faith.