While continuing my study through the book of Daniel, a question popped into my mind. How does God decide who he will deliver? There is no easy answer to this question, but scripture does help us get a better idea of why he delivers.
Starting with Daniel Chapter 2, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are tossed into the fiery furnace. Most already know the story. God delivers them and this event forces a pagan king to give glory to the Most High God. Then in Chapter 6, Daniel is delivered by God from certain death in the lion’s den. Also, in this scenario a pagan king is forced to give glory to God. In both situations God is glorified.
Now fast forward 600 years to the gruesome deaths of those who followed Christ. In Acts 7 we learn that Stephen was stoned to death. Aside from the obvious (Stephen being rewarded eternally) what was the benefit of his death? That was the question I asked myself and then I was reminded of a conversation I had with an atheist friend of mine.
He was a really smart guy and was able to offer a counter for nearly every point I brought. There was one thing that I said that tripped him up. I brought up the fact that when people lie, they usually do it to gain something. Some do it for financial gain, to avoid trouble, or simply to make themselves look good. I then asked him if he had ever heard of someone lying when they knew it would lead to certain death. He responded saying that maybe the Christian martyrs had simply been tricked. He pointed out the events surrounding the Heaven’s Gate cult and how so many people killed themselves believing the teachings of a false prophet. I countered by explaining that all Christian Martyrs based their faith on a central idea, an event that any of them could have disproved if it were not true. There faith was based on the idea that Jesus had been raised from the dead and that those who believed in him would be raised as well. Many of those who died claimed to be direct witnesses to his resurrection. So, they were not fooled into believing it. The only other option is to accuse them of lying, but that makes even less sense considering what happened as a result of their profession of faith. He relented and conceded that point. I can’t say that he accepted Christ as a result of our conversation, but the deaths of Stephen and other saints gives powerful proof to the resurrection. So, once again God was glorified.
1 Corinthians 15:55 tells that after Christ’s resurrection death lost its sting. Since death is no longer the end for believers, God’s choice to deliver has to do with bringing glory to the kingdom and drawing others to a knowledge of him. Lord, please help me to remember this truth and to apply it in my everyday life.