Wise Beyond Their Years



With Christmas just around the corner our minds are often drawn to reflect on THE WISE MEN referenced in the account of the incarnation of Jesus - - the magi spoken of in the gospel according to Matthew (Mt.2:1-12).  As to how many magi visited during the nativity of Jesus, tradition says there were three, but the New Testament only spec-ifies three gifts (gold, frankincense and myrrh/Mt.2:11).  Some six-hundred years prior to the arrival of these wise men associated with the birth of Jesus, the book of Daniel records the story of three other wise men (Dan.1:4).


King Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, had besieged the city of Jerusalem and captured her inhabitants.  The Babylonian king authorized his chief officer to recruit some of the sons of Israel for regal service in his royal court (Dan.1:1-3).  Among the ones enlisted were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah - - four Hebrew youths promptly assigned new names:  Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.  After being highly promoted due to his (God-given) ability to interpret one of the king's most perplexing dreams, Daniel used his influence to request key roles for his three comrades (Dan.2:36-49).  They were appointed to be administrators over the province of Babylon.


               As time went on, soon a golden statue standing 90' tall and 9' wide was erected and all were ordered to bow down and worship the image of the king (Dan.3:5).  Those who disregarded the king's edict would be burnt to a crisp - -   cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire (Dan.3:6).  While most appeared eager to genuflect, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused to comply, defying the king's order to worship the golden image.  When King Nebuchadnezzar was informed of their refusal to cooperate, he was enraged (Dan.3:13).  These three wise youths stood before the king and made this public profession:  If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of 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 (Dan.3:17:18).  We stand impressed at the courage of these three young men.  Even more, we salute their faith in a holy God, whom they wisely determined to serve wholeheartedly, whether He came to their aid or not.


                                                                                                                                             Terry Siverd / Cortland Church of Christ