Have I done any good in the world today? If not, I have failed indeed! Then wake up and do something more than dream of your mansion above.
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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Shadrach, Meshach, And A Billy Goat - Part 2

Another shot of Abed-nego
from my Primary aged mind's
"So what does the goat have to do with anything?" Not much if you're reading the story straight out of the scriptures. In fact, it's actually not even in there. But realizing I first heard this story assuming my Primary teachers were saying "Shadrach, Meshach, and a Billy Goat" rather than "Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego" would clear a lot of confusion! Go read my last blog post!

Some time after Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego were brought before King Nebuchadnezzar, he later had a dream which troubled him but when he woke up he could not remember it. He commanded that all of his wise men tell him what dream he had and what it meant. None of the wise men could satisfy the demands of the king, so he ordered that they should all be killed, including Daniel and the others. God had shown Daniel this dream so when the king's guards went to kill Daniel, he asked to be taken to the king to interpret his dream.

After Daniel told the king what the dream was and interpreted what it meant, the scriptures say the king "made Daniel a great man, and gave him many great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief of the governors over all the wise men of Babylon." Daniel also requested that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego be set over the affairs of all the land, and the king did so.

Daniel interprets the king's dream.
A while later, King Nebuchadnezzar made a large golden idol and put it in Babylon. He sent his servants to gather up all of the people of importance and bring them to see the new idol. He also sent a herald out to tell the people of the kingdom to fall down and worship this idol whenever they heard the sounding, and whoever did not would be thrown into a furnace to be burned.

However, when the time came when everyone was supposed to bow down to worship the idol, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego would not fall to worship it. When King Nebuchadnezzar heard of this, he was furious with them for not obeying his orders. He told his servants to bring them to him, then he questioned them as to why they did not worship his gods or the idol.

They told the king that they would only serve God, and if the king were to cast them into the fire then God would protect them. King Nebuchadnezzar in his rage commanded his servants to prepare the furnace to be seven times hotter than it was usually supposed to be. He then commanded the guards to throw Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego into the furnace. God did indeed protect them from the fire and they were not burned. However, the men who prepared the furnace were incinerated immediately because of how intense the flames were.

The king was amazed. He asked his servants, "Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?" They agreed and then he said "Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God." When King Nebuchadnezzar saw this, he stood in front of the furnace and cried out to the three in the furnace to come out. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego walked out of the furnace and as the scriptures say, the fire had no power over them, "nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them."

We can liken this story to our own lives. This story gives a whole new meaning to the 5th verse of Hymn #85, How Firm A Foundation. It reads:

When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply.
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, thy dross to consume.
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.

Jesus Christ is rock upon
which we build our foundation.
(Helaman 5:12)
Knowing we will go through "fiery trials" in our lives, I find comfort in knowing such trials in our life are not meant to "consume" us. They are designed to help us become what our loving Father in Heaven knows we can become. In the course of our lifetimes, we are shaped, molded, and refined by the experiences we have, the choices we make, and the things we surround ourselves with. Sometimes we may be burned by the fires of life, but with God's help it won't be something a spiritual band-aid can't help.

Just as King Nebuchadnezzar saw the Son of God in the furnace with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, Christ and His enabling Atonement help us rest assured that God is always with us. He can never fail us. Even when we think our Heavenly Father has abandoned us, He is always aware of the trials we face and has designed them for our own good. The scriptures tell us God will not give us anything He knows we cannot handle. Knowing this gives me great hope in this life, and things to look forward to in the life to come!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Shadrach, Meshach, And A Billy Goat - Part 1

How I used to view Abed-nego.
When I was in Primary, I used to hear stories from the scriptures. The stories were great, but sometimes it was hard to remember how to say the names correctly. In the case of the Bible story this post is based off of, I had always thought it was about two young men and a goat.

 It wasn't until I got a little older until I read the story and noticed it was not actually about a goat. I just didn't know that I had been hearing Abed-nego's name wrong the whole time! Nevertheless, it's still a great story. My companion suggested I tell this story from the perspective of Abed-nego being a billy goat, but I decided it wouldn't be the wisest idea!

In ancient Israel, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came into Jerusalem and overthrew King Jehoiakim, the king of Judah. King Nebuchadnezzar asked for certain children from the house of Israel and also of the king's and princes seed. He asked for "children in whom was no blemish, but well favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans." Or in other words, he wanted the best of the best.

The king gave them a specific diet to live on, which consisted of the king's meat and wine. He told them that they would live on this diet for three years, then be brought before the king to be observed. The children who were brought before the king were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. The scriptures say that the children's names were changed: "Daniel the name of Belteshazzar; and to Hananiah, of Shadrach; and to Mishael, of Meshach; and to Azariah, of Abed-nego."

Daniel knew the diet the king had put them on would be harmful to their bodies. The king's servants told Daniel that unless they ate the meat and drank the wine, the king would most likely kill him and his the other children. He told the king's servants to test them for ten days by letting them eat foods of seeds and grains and then comparing the four of them to the other children who lived by the king's diet.

The servants agreed, and at the end of the ten days they saw that Daniel and the others were healthier than the children who ate the meat and drank the wine. During the three years, the scriptures say God "gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams."

At the end of the three years, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego were brought before the king to be observed. The king and his servants found that there were no other children like them when they stood before the king. He discovered they were "ten times better" in all manner of wisdom and understanding than the king's magicians and astrologers of which he ruled over. Because of this, Daniel and the others gained the favor of the king.

What can be learned from the story of these young men who refused to partake of the king's diet? Daniel and the other children could easily have eaten and drank what the king's servants gave them. Even with the probability of death, they still did not eat or drink the things required of them by the king.

I think these children were very courageous and faithful. We can also see how they were blessed because of their actions and faith. How many of us can say that if we were in their place, would choose the right, no matter the consequence? Even though I'm sure it must have been hard to refuse the diet at the threat of death, Daniel and his friends stood up for the right. The same applies today. Although we probably won't be killed by someone for rejecting alcohol at a party or a cigarette from a "friend", the aspect of peer pressure or mockery can still be frightening.

Something I learned from a very wise missionary at the start of my mission is that anytime we exert our faith, we are immediately blessed. We can see this is true from the fact that even after ten days of not living the king's diet they were far healthier than the other children who did. Let us act on our faith and stand up for what is right even in the midst of trial and tribulation.