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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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.

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