Great Energy For God
They shall be like mighty men in battle, trampling the foe…. They shall fight because the Lord is with them.(Zechariah 10:5)
Those who know God have great energy for God.
In one of the prophetic chapters of Daniel we read: “the people who know their God shall stand firm and take action”(11:32) in the context, this statement is introduced by “but”, and set in contrast to the activity of the “contemptible person” (verse 21) who sets up “the abomination that makes desolate”(verses 31-32). This shows us that the action taken by those who know God is their reaction to the anti-God trends they see operating around them. While their God is being defiled or disregarded, they cannot rest: they feel they must do something; the dishonor done to God’s name goads them into action.
This is exactly what we see happening in the narrative chapters of Daniel. Daniel and his three friends were men who knew God, and who in consequence felt compelled from time to time to actively stand out against the conventions and dictates of irreligion and false religion. Daniel, in particular appears as one who would not let a situation of that sort slide, but felt bound openly to challenge it. Those who know their God are sensitive to situations in which God’s truth and honor are being directly or tacitly jeopardized, and rather than let the matter go by by default will force the issue on man’s attention and seek thereby to compel a change of heart about it-even at personal risk.
Men who know their God are before anything else men who pray, and the first point where their zeal and energy for God’s glory come to expression is in their prayers. The invisible fruit of true knowledge of God is energy to pray for God’s cause- energy indeed, which can find an outlet and a relief of inner tension only when channeled into such prayer- and the more knowledge, the more energy.
J. L. Packer
What energizes us is what we are passionate about for our passions will move us when nothing else will. Show me someone who is passionate about their music, for example, and I will show you someone who gives long hours to practice. Show me someone who is passionate about hunting or fishing and I will show you someone that weather and busyness and cost have no effect on their pursuit of their passion.
Show me someone who is passionate about God and their walk with Him and I will show you a worshipper, a worker and a person who brings up God in every conversation.
I’ve took note over the years that if one listens for a little while, the can soon discover what another’s passion is. The reference that Packer uses with Daniel and his friends illustrates how this passion for God transcends every situation. We know that they were just young men when they were carried away from Israel to Babylon. We meet them as they are being offered to eat from the kings table. They know the meat they were given to eat has been offered to idols and so they refuse to compromise. Instead they choose vegetables and water. This is our first indication of their passion for God. They were far from home, they risked being executed or losing their status, but they chose their relationship with God over everything else. This is the mark of those who know God. Every decision, every action is made with their relationship with God in mind. I’m often asked what can guide us in our decisions and I always respond that before any other identification I am a Christian first. For me that determines how I do business, my political views, my rules of conduct and my activity and work.
“And the [Babylonian] king told Ashpenaz, the chief of his officials, to bring in some of the sons of Israel, including some from the royal family and from the nobles, young men without blemish and handsome in appearance, skillful in all wisdom, endowed with intelligence and discernment, and quick to understand, competent to stand [in the presence of the king] and able to serve in the king’s palace. He also ordered Ashpenaz to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans. The king assigned a daily ration for them from his finest food and from the wine which he drank. They were to be educated and nourished this way for three years so that at the end of that time they were [prepared] to enter the king’s service. Among them from the sons of Judah were: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. The commander of the officials gave them [Babylonian] names: Daniel he named Belteshazzar, Hananiah he named Shadrach, Mishael he named Meshach, and Azariah he named Abed-nego. But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile (taint, dishonor) himself with the king’s finest food or with the wine which the king drank; so he asked the commander of the officials that he might [be excused so that he would] not defile himself. Now God granted Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the commander of the officials, and the commander of the officials said to Daniel, “I am afraid of my lord the king, who has prearranged your food and your drink; for why should he see your faces looking more haggard than the young men who are your own age? Then you would make me forfeit my head to the king.” But Daniel said to the overseer whom the commander of the officials had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, “Please, test your servants for ten days, and let us be given some vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then let our appearance and the appearance of the young men who eat the king’s finest food be observed and compared by you, and deal with your servants in accordance with what you see.” So the man listened to them in this matter and tested them for ten days. At the end of ten days it seemed that they were looking better and healthier than all the young men who ate the king’s finest food. So the overseer continued to withhold their fine food and the wine they were to drink, and kept giving them vegetables. As for these four young men, God gave them knowledge and skill in all kinds of literature and wisdom; Daniel also understood all kinds of visions and dreams.”
Those who choose to place their relationship with God as their first priority will also reap the benefits of doing so. Though we maybe tempted to act and make decisions through worldly views and the pressure to compromise and “fit in” is surely great and in fact is increasing, those who choose to know God and to fully follow Him will in the end receive all He has. That, my friend is worth choosing.
As we follow these four men, we find Shadrach, Meshach and Abendigo facing a great test. They are being told that everyone must bow and worship the idol or else will face execution by being burned alive. How could anyone face such a test and pass it? Before the test comes, the decision must already be made for it will almost be impossible in the test to make the right decision. These men had already decided that they would worship none other than God. They had decided that their faith and relationship with God was more important than anything else including whether they lived or died. We, too, must make those decisions long before we are called to the question. My concern for this generation of believers is that we have been so used to bending and flexing and compromising the truth of the Word of God that when tests come we fold rather than standing on our relationship with God. Perhaps, and I say this meaning no judgement, the root cause for the compromise is the lack of knowing God. Hear carefully the words of these three men facing the fiery furnace:
“At that time certain Chaldeans came forward and brought [malicious] accusations against the Jews. They said to King Nebuchadnezzar, “O king, live forever! You, O king, have made a decree that everyone who hears the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, dulcimer, bagpipe, and all kinds of music is to fall down and worship the golden image. Whoever does not fall down and worship shall be thrown into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire. There are certain Jews whom you have appointed over the administration of the province of Babylon, namely Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. These men, O king, pay no attention to you; they do not serve your gods or worship the golden image which you have set up.” Then Nebuchadnezzar in a furious rage gave a command to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego; and these men were brought before the king. Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image which I have set up? Now if you are ready, when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, dulcimer, and all kinds of music, to fall down and worship the image which I have made, very good. But if you do not worship, you shall be thrown at once into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire; and what god is there who can rescue you out of my hands?” Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego answered the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to answer you on this point. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to rescue us from the furnace of blazing fire, and He will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up!”
In other words, they said, “We don’t need to think about it, we’ve already made up our minds. We don’t know how it will turn out, but either way we will not give up our walk and trust in God.”
Daniel, facing a decree to make requests only to the king for 30 days continued to seek the counsel of God. When he’s arrested Daniel is thrown into the lions den. Yet in all this he refuses to renounce his faith and trust in God. Why? Remember at the beginning, he had already chose God above all else. That’s the secret. So I ask us, have we come to the knowledge of God that we choose Him and His ways above all else. Does that choice affect all our lives, no compartmentalism but whether at work, home, school,or community, we live as unto the Lord? It begins by choosing God’s way in the little things, otherwise we will not be able to choose His way in the big things. It begins with choosing to “eat vegetables and bread” rather than the “rich food of the king” at the expense of our souls. Jesus asked an important question:
36 For what does it benefit a man to gain the whole world [with all its pleasures], and forfeit his soul? 37 For what will a man give in exchange for his soul and eternal life [in God’s kingdom]? 38 For whoever is ashamed [here and now] of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”
May our knowledge of God increase and may our passion rise and may our energy toward God become great!
Dr. John Thompson