God’s Plan for the Youth
It is the privilege of the youth to have an education in the things of God. God loves them, and he will give to them a rich experience if they will deny self for Christ’s sake, if they will depart from sin, and serve the Lord with full purpose of heart. By giving up worldly pleasure, by ceasing to serve self, and learning to serve the Lord, they can give to the world one of the most striking evidences that God is working through his church on the earth.
God is giving to the children and youth many opportunities of knowing his will, and of learning how to do that will. In the Sabbath-school, in the services of the church, through the study of his Word in the home and in the school, he is constantly providing ways by which they may learn what is his purpose for the youth who accept him. By an earnest study of the Word of God, dear youth, you may learn to distinguish between right and wrong, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not. If you will put away your novel and romance, and with simplicity of heart search the Scriptures, the Lord will impress your mind with his truth, and will make you a blessing to others. You will see the converting power of God come into the church.
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Lessons from the Three Worthies
A faithful study of the story of Daniel and his three friends will teach the principles that underlie a strong, true character. These young men had first learned to serve God in their homes. They had there learned the meaning of true religion and what God would do for them if they remained loyal to him. When they were carried to the court of Babylon, they determined to yield up life itself rather than be untrue to God.
A severe test came to three of these youth when Nebuchadnezzar issued a proclamation, calling upon all the officers of the kingdom to assemble at the dedication of the great image, and at the sound of the musical instruments, to bow down and worship it. Should any fail of doing this, they were immediately to be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. The worship of this image had been brought about by the wise men of Babylon in order to make the Hebrew youth join in their idolatrous worship. They were beautiful singers, and the Chaldean wanted them to forget their God, and accept the worship of the Babylonian idols.
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The appointed day came, and at the sound of the music, the vast company that had assembled at the king’s command “fell down and worshiped the golden image.” But these faithful young men would not bow down.
When the men of Babylon saw that the youth would not join in the songs or bend the knee, they went to Nebuchadnezzar, saying,
O king, live forever…. There are certain Jews whom thou hast set over the affairs of the province of Babylon, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego: these men, O king, have not regarded thee: they serve not thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.
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The king was filled with rage, and commanded that the men be brought before him. “Is it true,” he inquired, “do not ye serve my gods, nor worship the golden image which I have set up?” Pointing to the fiery furnace, he reminded them of the punishment that would be theirs if they refused to obey his will.
The king decided to give them a second trial. “If ye be ready,” he said,
that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of music, ye fall down and worship the image which I have made, well: but if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.
Then, with hand stretched upward in defiance, he asked, “And who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?”
The fearless youth replied,
O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, … but if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.
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Steadfast in Faith
In vain were the king’s threats. He could not turn these noble men from their allegiance to the great Ruler of nations. When opportunity was again given them to yield to the king’s decree, and at the sound of the music the great men and officers of the kingdom bowed in worship before the image, the three Hebrews stood erect; they would not dishonor God by engaging in idol worship. They had been obedient to the laws of Babylon so far as these did not conflict with the claims of God; but they would not be swayed a hair’s breadth from the duty they owed their Creator.
Then the king commanded the furnace to be heated seven times hotter than it was wont to be heated; and when this was done, the three Hebrews were cast in. So furious were the flames, that the men who cast the Hebrews in were burned to death.
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Suddenly the countenance of the king paled with terror. He looked intently into the glowing flames, and turning to his lords, in tones of alarm, he inquired, “Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?” The answer was, “True, O king.” His voice trembling with excitement, the monarch exclaimed,
Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.
Nebuchadnezzar knew enough of the true God through Daniel to know whose was the form of the fourth in the flames. With remorse and shame, the king cried, “Ye servants of the most high God, come forth.” And as they obeyed and came forth, there was not even the smell of fire upon their garments.
God asks the youth of today to serve him with the same earnest purpose that these Hebrew youth revealed. He bids you make straight paths for your feet. He does not promise you that your Christian life will be free from trial; for the enemy will come in some form to every child of God. But in every trial you may claim the companionship of the Son of God. “Lo, I am with you alway,” he declares, “even unto the end of the world.”
When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. For I am the Lord thy God, the holy One of Israel, thy Saviour.
Mrs. E. G. White