Three Young Scientists
After the war, they found themselves taken prisoner to a foreign country. Not knowing the language there, they kept closely in touch with one another. No doubt, another reason for their intimate association was the fact that they had much in common. True, they were taken prisoner together and so they shared a common lot; they were also much the same physically, being strong and well, and the glow of health upon the cheek intensified the clearness of their eyes.
They were well educated young men, having graduated in science. Their enquiring minds, keen and hungry for knowledge, had driven them into many related fields of study, and as we come in contact with them, we are impressed by the quiet superiority of their personalities. These men were outstanding. Endowed with an abundance of natural ability, the young scientists also displayed an unusual degree of wisdom, a quality not found too frequently in young men.
Where are they now? Still alive? No, I am afraid we are not going to have the privilege of meeting them on this earth. They are dead.
As a matter of fact, they have been dead for some thousands of years, yet being dead their lives speak out one of the most challenging messages that young men, especially, in this day and hour could hear.
Young man! if you are interested in a soft life, an easy-going existence, a Sunday-morning-only religion that opiates the conscience, I am afraid you are not going to enjoy this article. It may be, however, that the young reader of this article is exercised about the will of God for his, or her, life. If so, read on and let each of us see how our lives compare with the experience of the three young scientists.
Their names were Hananiah, which means “Jehovah hath been gracious”, Mishael, which means “Who is what God is”, and Azariah, which means “Whom Jehovah aids”. Since we know that names are of great significance in the Scriptures, in discerning the character of the person named, we can learn that Hananiah was a man who knew something of the GRACE OF GOD, Mishael was a man who knew something of the GLORY OF GOD, and Azariah was a man who knew something of the POWER OF GOD (Dan. 3).
Here is a three-fold picture of the believer. Saved by the grace of God; kept by the power of God to behold the glory of God.
These young men excelled in three things; PURITY, for in Daniel 1:4 we read they were “children in whom was no blemish”. The lesson is obvious. If your life, and mine, is going to count for God it must be pure. Another wrote to a young man whom he loved and whose life he coveted for God and said, “Keep thyself pure.” There is no alternative for a clean life. We may preach or try to teach. We may talk, but if our walk is not according to the Book, the world will LOOK and smile and pass along.
They excelled in INTELLIGENCE according to the same verse 4, they were “skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science,” in fact in v.20 we read that the king found them “ten times better” than all his own men. Spiritual intelligence is a necessity if God is going to use a young man today. How is this arrived at? By getting to know the Word of God, burning the midnight oil, if need be, in the diligent search for the wisdom of the Most High. There is no easy way; time must be spent with the divine Teacher.
They excelled in DIGNITY, for we read that they “had ability in them to stand in the King’s palace”. Today, it seems we are plagued with a lack of this ability among us. Perhaps it is because we fail to discern the Imperial Majesty of the King before whom we live. Our conversation is salted with the jargon of the day, and our demeanour is sadly lacking the regality that should distinguish the young believer as a child of the King. A word of warning here … note the ability was “in them”. It was not a “put on” thing. There are few things more obnoxious than “put on” attitudes, the plaintive intonation of a “religious voice”, a pretended spirituality put on for the benefit of a visiting preacher. No, make sure it is the real thing, produced “in” the life by much experience in the Royal Presence.
Furthermore, they exercised three things: SELF-DENIAL, in chapter 1, verse 12 we read “give us pulse to eat, and water to drink”. That is, they did without those things that were perfectly right and legal for them to have, things that were easily available to them. Now we know that as believers there is no specific injunction compelling us, in our day, to abstain from food. Yet there is much that teaches us to deny self even lawful things for the furtherance of the will of God in our lives. “All things are lawful unto me”, said Paul, “but all things are not profitable”.
They also exercised SELF-DISCIPLINE, desiring that they be “proved” (ch. 1:12) for “ten days”. After the allotted time, what beauty, what growth was in evidence! Would my life stand the test of scrutiny? Even for ten days? Would yours? Or would the keen eye of the “prover” find much untidiness of living, much irreplaceable time unscheduled and frittered away in useless pastimes? Keen young minds coasting along unoccupied save by the fruitless chatterings of small talk? How about it now, young Christian, are we really living disciplined lives? A disciplined life is not one that is imprisoned and bound by the chains of legality, rather it is a life facing the claims of reality, and one in which every vibrant throb of energy is harnessed and directed into the channels that will affect the greatest number of lives for God.
Such lives as these are marked by God for His glory, and just as the High Priest in Israel, anointed for special service, became the one most closely associated with sacrifice, so these young men exercised SELF-SACRIFICE. Do we catch the picture? Three men, their lives before them, intelligent, well-educated, strong in body and strong in faith are willing to give their very lives for the God they love and serve. Say, young man, have you noticed how many young women have gone to the mission field and how few young men? Could it be? No I had better not say it. Perhaps you know the answer.
Let me say here, lest some should misunderstand; God is not looking for an army of young men who are willing to go to the mission field. He is looking for the handful who are willing for HIS WILL, whatever it is, and say in the language of Mdm. Guyon—
“While place we seek, or place we shun,
The soul finds happiness in none:
But with our God to guide the way,
’Tis equal joy to go or stay.”
Thus the young men were called to experience three things: FIRE was the first thing, and what a fire! Heated seven times its normal heat. Mark you, they did not KNOW that they were GOING to be delivered, but one thing they did know … . their God was ABLE to deliver them. Thus yielding themselves to the will of God, they were thrown into the fire.
Next, they experienced FREEDOM for as we read the record in Daniel 3:25, the only thing the fire burned was their bonds. Oh, what liberty do those souls enjoy who abandon themselves to the will of God! Again Mdm. Guyon expresses this so beautifully—
“My cage confines me round, abroad I cannot fly,
But though my wing is closely bound, my heart’s at liberty,
My prison walls cannot control,
The flight, the freedom of the soul.”
Their next experience was FELLOWSHIP with One Like the Son of God. So it must be, those who follow the path those young men followed will enjoy the sense of the divine Presence, for His promise holds good “Lo I am WITH YOU even unto the end…”
“Well,” says some young person, “that is all very good, but I could never be like them, I am just ordinary, they were different, I could not possibly do what they did.” You think not, young believer?
I agree that there is a secret to their victorious life. It is contained in three words left on record for us. Words that sound almost as though Paul had written them. They are found in Chapter 3:28 …these young men “YIELDED THEIR BODIES” to the God they loved. That was the secret of their stature, their exercise and their victory. The question is now WAS IT WORTH IT?
The OUTCOME of it all was threefold. God got THE GLORY for the king said, “Blessed be the God of … (the men)”. Secondly, the world got THE MESSAGE, for the king sent his decree concerning this thing to “every people and language”. Lastly, the three young men got a BLESSING, being given a greater sphere of service.
Is your life going to be the same as it has been, young friend? Or are you going to determine, right now, that your brief, oh so brief! life is going to count for God and for the Glory of His Royal Son?
“I BESEECH YOU THEREFORE, BRETHREN, BY THE MERCIES OF GOD, THAT YOU PRESENT YOUR BODIES A LIVING SACRIFICE, HOLY, ACCEPTABLE UNTO GOD, WHICH IS YOUR REASONABLE (INTELLIGENT) SERVICE (Rom. 12:1).