When I was a lad, being steeped in the traditions and morality of religion, the story of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego was often used to drive home the lesson of the benefits of clean living. There was nothing wrong with this lesson, per se, except that that it sums up about all I was taught about them. Of course their example of faithfulness and bravery was also set forth but I don’t recall ever being told the SOURCE of their faithfulness nor the STRENGTH in which they stood. Rather the emphasis was on what they did to make GOD have regard to them rather than on the ONE who favored them and then sustained them in the midst of their trials.
Children are never too young, nor are adults ever too old, to be taught of the glories of an Absolute GOD who does all things according to HIS purpose and who will preserve those whom HE loves, with an everlasting love. An emphasis on the “faithfulness” of men, apart from a greater emphasis on the “GIVER of faith” and the SUSTAINER of the faithful, is a message designed to rob GOD of the glory due unto HIS great and mighty NAME.
Some would tell us that any kind of religion is better than none. I would disagree strongly. Most of the ancient societies and cultures which have inhabited the earth since the beginning, have all had their own brands of religion. The common denominator in all of the false religions upon the earth is their emphasis upon the free will of man and the notion that the efforts and devotion of men is what causes GOD or “the gods” to show favor upon them. The Babylonians worshipped numerous “deities”, even regarding their kings in such light. Their foundations of such worship was largely superstition, just as most “religion today” is built upon the same notion.
It is not difficult in the modern day to find many, who call themselves Christians, who believe in the “power of prayer”, much like the heathen believed in their shamans with their enchantments, charms, and mysterious ways. Prayer is a ritualized activity with most, having some measure of hope (as one would with a rabbits foot or a four leaf clover) that what they ask for has a good chance of coming to pass. They will often resort to it when all else has failed.
Just like Nebuchadnezzar had his “wise men”, so too do the majority of religions rely upon their “wise men” (often called clergymen, pastors, evangelists, bishops, elders, prophets, apostles; etc.). A goodly number of these witch doctors tour the world fleecing men of their money as they make merchandise of the “gospel”, and make their followers two-fold more the children of hell than themselves. There is hardly a place upon the earth that is not infected with this sort of superstition which either waits upon signs and wonders of a miraculous nature or the type that impresses them with carnal wisdom and psychological analysis, all the while entertaining them and teaching them that they hold the key to their happiness and success.
The LORD gave Nebuchadnezzar a dream which made a strong impression upon him, yet he could not remember the details of the dream, nor did he have any idea what was revealed in this dream. No doubt, the LORD does communicate to men through dreams, from time to time, yet most of the time the recounting of the majority of dreams is more superstition than revelation. I would never tell a man that the LORD does not ever teach him through dreams but I would certainly say that every dream which is sent by the SPIRIT of GOD will always magnify CHRIST and teach the dreamer of his (or her) total dependence upon the mercy of GOD. No secret will be revealed in a dream which is not set forth in the Scriptures.
Nebuchadnezzar had enough carnal wisdom to understand that if the Chaldean “wise men” could not discern the details of his dream without his telling them of it, then they surely would not be able to interpret it. He rightly surmised that they would merely make up some “interpretation” which would “entertain” him, and be what he would want to hear, and be to their benefit. Sadly, many among those who pursue religion in the present day do not even possess the same carnal discernment, but are gladly led by “interpreters” all too glad to play the game of religion with them so they can all be happy, prosperous and satisfied. “How do ye say, We are wise, and the law of the LORD is with us? Lo, certainly in vain made he it; the pen of the scribes is in vain. The wise men are ashamed, they are dismayed and taken: lo, they have rejected the word of the LORD; and what wisdom is in them? -----. For they have healed the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace.” (Jer 8:8-11)
The LORD raised up Daniel to be a faithful messenger unto Nebuchadnezzar. He was humbled before the LORD and recognized that apart from being given a revelation of these things from the LORD, he could never discover them by his own power. Thus he prayed, not because he superstitiously believed in the power of prayer, but rather because HE believed in the ONE who is the REVEALER of secrets. His trust was in the LORD not in his or his compatriot’s faithfulness, ability, or activity of praying. He had no options but was compelled to call upon HIM.
He readily testified that there are secrets which are known only unto the LORD and that men have no way of discovering these “mysteries” except that HE should reveal them. The LORD declared as much through Isaiah, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isa 55:8-9)
It is bound in the very nature of man (showing the work of the law written in his heart) to consider that the blessings of GOD are bestowed “conditionally”, based upon their actions, prayers, faithfulness etc. In like fashion they would regard the judgment of men to be upon those same “conditions”. Yet the LORD, in speaking through Isaiah, noted the superiority of HIS thought, to be manifested in HIS willingness and purpose to show HIS mercy and grant HIS blessings only according to HIS purpose, and not according to the deserving or non-deserving manner of men. “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” (Isa 55:11-12) David said it like this, “If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.” (Psa 130:3-4)
Thus this ONE who is the REVEALER of secrets has kept the “mystery of godliness” hidden from the beginning of the world but has now in the end (or last age) of the world, manifested the unfolding of that mystery, by HIM who alone was found worthy to loose the seals and open the book. “And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof. And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne.” (Rev 5:5-7)
All of the “secrets” which were thus hidden from the beginning are now made manifest in HIM whose testimony is the SPIRIT of PROPHECY. (see Rev.19:10) HE is the FULFILLER and the FULFILLMENT of those things spoken by the prophets of old. “Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.” (Col 1:26-29)
What secret could we wish to know which is not revealed in JESUS CHRIST, the FULNESS of the GODHEAD bodily? To whom else could we go? “Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.” (John 6:68-69) What mystery would you discover which is not found in HIM?mam