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Taking a stand, or failing to, comes with consequences. Yet, as Believers, we must make this choice—to stand or not—based upon God’s Word! Upon the ways of God Himself!
Join us as we explore the consequences faced by biblical figures who had to make tough choices and how we can also choose correctly!
Choices and Consequences
The book of Daniel has many memorable and amazing examples of how standing up for the ways of God is always the right choice…
- We can see this with Daniel and his three friends—generally known by the names given to them by their Babylonian captors: Shadrach, Meshach, Abed-Nego—who chose to keep kosher and undefiled in spite of what man desired.
- We can see this with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego standing in faith instead of kneeling before idols.
- We can see this with Daniel disobeying the law by continuing to pray to God.
But what were the consequences of these choices? What did their standing or not standing, mean in the natural versus the spiritual?
During the lifetime of Daniel and his friends, the land of Judah—Jerusalem and the Temple included—became subject to Babylon, and as a result, nearly all who lived in the land found themselves captives of the Babylonians.
For Daniel and his friends, who were wise, quick to learn, and unblemished, this did not mean slavery as we might expect. Instead, it meant that they were taken to Babylon to study for three years before potentially serving in the king’s palace.
And it was during this three year period that a daily provision of the king’s delicacies and wine were given to the students who would eventually be considered to serve in his palace.
This was likely meant to cause the students to enjoy the time during which they were transitioning from their old lives and culture into the new Babylonian culture. But it was also meant to improve the mind and body of those consuming them; after all, the king only wanted intelligent, attractive people around him.
Therefore, because it was enjoyable and expected of them, the young individuals who studied ate of the delicacies and drank the wine… with the exception of Daniel and his three friends. They chose faithfulness to God, consuming only vegetables and water.
So, when the chief of the eunuchs voiced his fears—for his head in particular—Daniel and his friends chose to trust in God, and appealed wisely to their overseer…
“Please test your servants for ten days, and let them give us vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then let our appearance be examined before you, and the appearance of the young men who eat the portion of the king’s delicacies; and as you see fit, so deal with your servants.”
—Daniel 1:12-13 (emphasis added)
And God granted them favor, allowing them ten days of testing with ultimate success. For at the end of their ten days, they appeared healthier than the others who had eaten of the delicacies and drank the wine. So much so, that eventually, when they were brought before the king, they were found to be the best and wisest, and so they served before the king.
In this instance, the cost of standing in God’s ways is not as clearly laid out as some examples in Daniel… but knowing the Babylonian court, it is likely that death would have been the result.
Their choice to obey God’s Word over the commands of those who ‘held their lives in their hands’ had consequences in the natural—likely death—if God had not stepped in. However, had they not chosen as they did, the spiritual consequences may have been much more severe—defilement, perhaps even eternal separation from God. It was not an easy choice, yet, they trusted in God, expecting HIM to cause HIS will to be done—knowing that it is better to be for God than not.
Yet, other choices that these men of God would make had far clearer consequences…
For instance, when Daniel’s three friends chose not to bow to the king’s gold statue, they knew full well that disobedience and being thrown into a massive, fiery furnace went hand in hand. But to them, obedience to God was worth any cost!
“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.’”
—Daniel 3:14-18 (emphasis added)
We all know the outcome of this event. While the three men were thrown into the furnace, God protected them… allowing them to emerge without any trace of singeing. Without even the smell of smoke! And thereby demonstrating His wonderful power!
God spared them from the physical consequence of their choice because of their obedient honor of Him. But what would the consequence have been had they chosen to obey man instead of God? Would not the eternal effects of such a choice been far worse than any possible natural one? Even if, in the natural, the physical consequence of their honoring God would have the potential to terrify. Faith and HOLY fear of the Lord being needed to overcome any hesitation or even terror.
And this was just as true when Daniel chose to openly pray to God as he always did—even after it was made illegal for a thirty-day period, with those who disobeyed thrown into a den of lions.
Yet, Daniel, despite knowing the king had signed this edict into law, went home and prayed to God that very day! It was not even a consideration to him, to not pray to God. He did not need time to think about it. He did not even try to be discrete about it by changing his routine. Daniel simply prayed. He knew the cost and still he prayed.
Now, we know the consequence in the natural would mean certain death. Yet, God, while allowing Daniel to be thrown into the lion’s den, also provided an angel to protect Daniel. Not only would Daniel’s faithfulness be rewarded, but the Name of the Lord would be honored!
And the lives of those who sought Daniel’s death ended as they had intended for him. While God was glorified and honored, and many came to recognize God as the ONLY God!
But what would have been the spiritual consequences had Daniel chosen not to pray for thirty days?
Would God have forgiven Daniel had he not prayed for thirty days? It is possible. Yet, what kind of faithfulness would that have been? What kind of love and devotion would it have shown?
Surely, it is better to be in right standing with God than to have any honor, any ‘protection.’
Surely, it is better to have a relationship with God than even with the kings of this world… to know GOD.
Daniel understood this. Daniel’s friends understood this.
That God had to be first. That it was God who had blessed them, given them position and favor. And that apart from God, they could do nothing.
Certainly, what could have happened in the natural was unpleasant. It costs to take a stand. Yet, they chose to surrender to God’s will…
And GOD RESPONDED.
This Applies to Us
Each of these examples—and every other one found in the Word—applies to us.
Each of us, at various times in our lives, have to choose to stand for God’s ways or not. And, while it is possible that we will never have as severe of consequences set before us; what we choose still matters! In the present… and on into eternity.
Will we choose to stand? Or will we ‘kneel?’
Will we honor God? Or will we not?
Will we walk in boldness? Or will we walk in fear?
Some choices may appear larger or more important than others. Sometimes we may fail to see how our choices matter. However, the key is to walk in step with our Creator. With the One God!
It is not legalism. Nor is it oppression. It is right. It is true. And it is freedom!
Remember, God is with us. In every choice. He will lead us, guide us, and see that His perfect will and plan—which is for our good—is done… we just have to stand in faith.
God did not abandon Daniel or his friends after they chose to be faithful in spite of the consequences. And, just as He was with them, so He will be with us—with YOU!
We all just need to be willing to take a stand when it is what God wants… when His Word dictates that it is the right and holy thing to do… then He does the big thing. He takes care of the things to come…
“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.’”