The Holy Prophet Daniel and the Three Children

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The Holy Prophet Daniel and the Three Children

Postby Theophilus » December 17th, 2007, 1:29 am

The Holy Prophet Daniel and the Three Children: Ananias, Azarias and Misael, remembered every year 8 days (!) before Christmas.

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All four were of the royal tribe of Judah. When Nebuchadnezzar destroyed and plundered Jerusalem, Daniel, as a boy, was carried away into slavery together with the Jewish King Jehoiachim and countless other Israelites. An account of his life, sufferings and prophecies can be found in detail in his book. Completely devoted to God, St. Daniel from his early youth received from God the gift of great discernment. His fame among the Jews in Babylon began when he denounced two lecherous and unrighteous elders, Jewish judges, and saved the chaste Susanna from an unjust death. But his fame among the Babylonians began from the day he deciphered and interpreted the dream of King Nebuchadnezzar. For this, the king made him a prince at his court. When the king made a golden idol on the Plain of Dura, the Three Children refused to worship it, and for this they were cast into a fiery furnace. But an angel of God appeared in the furnace and cooled the fire so that the children walked around the furnace unharmed by the fire, singing: Blessed art Thou, Lord God of our fathers (Daniel 3:26). The king saw this miracle and was amazed. He then brought the children out of the furnace and bestowed upon them great honors.

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In the time of King Belshazzar, when the king was eating and drinking with his guests at a banquet from consecrated vessels taken from the Temple in Jerusalem, an invisible hand wrote three words on the wall: Mene, Tekel, Upharsin (Daniel 5:25-28). No one was able to interpret these words except Daniel. That night, King Belshazzar was killed. Daniel was twice thrown into the lions' den because of his faith in the One, Living God, and both times the Lord saved him and he remained alive. Daniel beheld God on a throne with the heavenly hosts; saw angels; discerned the future of certain people, of kingdoms, and of the whole human race; and prophesied the time of the coming of the Savior on earth. According to St. Cyril of Alexandria, Daniel and the three children lived to old age in Babylon and were beheaded for the true Faith. When they beheaded Ananias, Azarias stretched out his cloak and caught his head; following this, Misael caught Azarias's head and Daniel caught Misael's head. An angel of the God translated their bodies to Judea, to Mount Gebal, and placed them under a rock. According to tradition, these four God-pleasers arose at the time of the death of the Lord Christ, appeared to many and again fell asleep. Daniel is numbered among the four great prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel). He lived and prophesied five hundred years before Christ.
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Hymn of Praise

Postby Theophilus » December 17th, 2007, 5:33 am

Enkindled by the divine flame,
The youths despised the fire,
And in it the holy ones were beweded
As they formed a choir shining most brightly,
Singing the song of many praises.
For the all-wise and glorious ones
Longed for the truly everlasting and indestructible kingdom.

0 thrice-blessed ones,
You did not worship the image made by man,
But armed with the invisible power of God
You were glorified by a trial of fire.
From the midst of the unbearable flames you called upon God:
"Hasten, o Compassionate One! Come speedily to our defense
For You aremerciful, and are able to accomplishall that You will."
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The Faith of the Three Young Men

Postby Theophilus » December 17th, 2007, 5:46 am

The story of the three young men in Babylon is especially loved in Orthodox liturgy. Not only is there the celebration of these Hebrew youths together with Daniel eight days before the feast of the Nativity, but their story is remembered and hymned on the two Sundays before Christmas which are dedicated to the memory of all the righteous of the Old Covenant who prepared the coming of Christ.

In addition, the story of the three young men is read in its entirety, together with there citation of their prayer before entering the flames and the chanting of their canticle from the depth of the furnace, at the vigil of the Lord’s Pascha of the Cross and Resurrection in the spring. And at every Lord’s Day vigil throughout the entire church year, the young men are hymned in the seventh and eighth odes of the resurrectional canons at matins and their canticle is prescribed to be sung.

The story of the three young men is critically important for many reasons, chief of which is their uncompromising faith in the one true God, the Lord of Israel, and their testimony to what genuine faith in God must be. How different was their expression of faith compared to what many people today think faith ought to be! Nowadays there are many, even among Christians, who say that to have genuine faith in God is to make claims on the Lord, to be assured of His actions on behalf of the earthly well-being of His people and to count on His deliverance in very human ways. They say that those who do no texpress their faith in this way are actually weak in faith, doubting the divine promises of the Lord. But such an attitude, sometimes referred to as the "name it and claim it" approach to faith in God, has nothing in common with the faith of the three holy children.
The three young men who were confronted by the wicked king of Babylon did not claim that the true God would save them from death in the flames. They surely believed that He could, but they did not insist that He would! Just the contrary. They bore witness to the fact that their God does whatever He wants. It was none of their business what He would or would not do, and it was certainly not the business of the king. They trusted their God in everything, if it was His will to deliver them,they were ready for that. But if it was His will that they should perish in the flames, they were ready for that as well! For they believed that whatever God did, He was still the God in whom they could trust for their ultimate victory.

And no matter what God did, they still, under whatever circumstances, would not worship the idol that Nebuchadnezzar had set up. In a word, according to the witness of the three young men, real faith and genuine trust in God makes no deals and no claims. It is completely and totally ready, as was shown supremely in Jesus, to accept whatever the Father wills and provides, knowing that His faithful ones will never be put to shame. Only such faith can change fire into dew and deliver from death.

Then Nebuchadnezzar in furious rage commanded that Shadrach, Meshach,and Abednego be brought. Then they brought these men before the king. Nebuchadnezzar said to them, "Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, 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, trigor, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, to fall down and worship the image which I have made, well and good; but if you do not worship, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace; and who is the god that will deliver you out of my hands?"
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered the king, "0 Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace; and He will deliver us out of your hand, 0 king. But if not, be it known to you, 0 king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image which you have set up." (Dan 3:13-18)

The three young men in the Babylonian furnace remain forever the witnesses of true faith in the true God. They prefigure, in their total obedience, the trust of Him who "in the days of His flesh . . . offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to Him who wasable to save Him from death, and He was heard for His godly fear." This is Jesus, who "although He was a Son, . . . learned obedience through what He suffered; and being made perfect…became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey Him..."(Heb 5:7-9). This is the only faith worthy of those who serve the living God who saves the world through the shameful death of His royal Son.

- Protopresbyter Thomas Hopko, from the "Winter Pascha"
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Hymn of Praise

Postby Theophilus » December 17th, 2007, 3:03 pm

The Holy Prophet Daniel and the Three Children
Whoever fears the true God
Is not afraid of men or demons.
The Lord rewards faithful servants
And guards them from every evil.
Among the lions,
Holy Daniel remained unharmed;
In the fiery furnace,
The Three Children remained alive;
In the midst of the fire, they glorified God,
With an angel, God's messenger.
Like Noah in the evil world,
Like holy Lot in wild Sodom,
And like Joseph in decadent Egypt,
So Daniel in the middle of Babylon
Remained faithful and righteous
With three of his young friends: Ananias and Azarias
And the faithful young Misael.
The tortures came and the tortures passed.
The martyred were gloriously glorified
In the Immortal Kingdom of Christ.
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Prayer from the Flames

Postby Theophilus » December 17th, 2007, 3:11 pm

And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace...

...Then Azariah (Abednego) stood and offered this prayer; in the midst of the fire he opened his mouth and said:

"Blessed art thou, O Lord, God of our fathers,
and worthy of praise;
and thy name is glorified for ever.
For thou art just in all that thou hast done to us,
and all thy works are true and thy ways right,
and all thy judgments are truth.
Thou hast executed true judgments in all that
thou hast brought upon us
and upon Jerusalem, the holy city of our fathers,
for in truth and justice thou hast brought
all this upon us because of our sins.
For we have sinfully and lawlessly departed from thee,
and have sinned in all things and have not
obeyed thy commandments;
we have not observed them or done them,
as thou hast commanded us that it might go well with us.
So all that thou hast brought upon us,
and all that thou hast done to us,
thou hast done in true judgment.
Thou hast given us into the hands of lawless
enemies, most hateful rebels,
and to an unjust king, the most wicked in all the world.
And now we cannot open our mouths;
shame and disgrace have befallen thy servants and worshipers.
For thy name's sake do not give us up utterly,
and do not break thy covenant,
and do not withdraw thy mercy from us,
for the sake of Abraham thy beloved
and for the sake of Isaac thy servant
and Israel thy holy one,
to whom thou didst promise
to make their descendants as many as the stars of heaven
and as the sand on the shore of the sea.
For we, O Lord, have become fewer than any nation,
and are brought low this day in all the world
because of our sins.
And at this time there is no prince, or prophet, or leader,
no burnt offering, or sacrifice, or oblation, or incense,
no place to make an offering before thee or to find mercy.
Yet with a contrite heart and a humble spirit
may we be accepted,
as though it were with burnt offerings of rams and bulls,
and with tens of thousands of fat lambs;
such may our sacrifice be in thy sight this day,
and may we wholly follow thee,
for there will be no shame for those who trust in thee.
And now with all our heart we follow thee,
we fear thee and seek thy face.
Do not put us to shame,
but deal with us in thy forbearance
and in thy abundant mercy.
Deliver us in accordance with thy marvelous works,
and give glory to thy name, O Lord!
Let all who do harm to thy servants be put to shame;
let them be disgraced and deprived of all power and dominion,
and let their strength be broken.
Let them know that thou art the Lord, the only God,
glorious over the whole world."[/quote]

- Daniel 3: 23 - 45 (LXX)
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Prayers from the Flames

Postby Theophilus » December 17th, 2007, 3:16 pm

Now the king's servants who threw them in did not cease feeding the furnace fires with naphtha, pitch, tow, and brush.
And the flame streamed out above the furnace forty-nine cubits, and it broke through and burned those of the Chaldeans whom it caught about the furnace.
But the angel of the Lord came down into the furnace to be with Azariah and his companions, and drove the fiery flame out of the furnace, and made the midst of the furnace like a moist whistling wind, so that the fire did not touch them at all or hurt or trouble them.

Then the three, as with one mouth, praised and glorified and blessed God in the furnace, saying:

"Blessed art thou, O Lord, God of our fathers,
and to be praised and highly exalted for ever;
And blessed is thy glorious, holy name
and to be highly praised and highly exalted for ever;
Blessed art thou in the temple of thy holy glory
and to be extolled and highly glorified for ever.
Blessed art thou, who sittest upon cherubim
and lookest upon the deeps,
and to be praised and highly exalted for ever.
Blessed art thou upon the throne of thy kingdom
and to be extolled and highly exalted for ever.
Blessed art thou in the firmament of heaven
and to be sung and glorified for ever.

"Bless the Lord, all works of the Lord,
sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
Bless the Lord, you heavens,
sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
Bless the Lord, you angels of the Lord,
sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
Bless the Lord, all waters above the heaven,
sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
Bless the Lord, all powers,
sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
Bless the Lord, sun and moon,
sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
Bless the Lord, stars of heaven,
sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
Bless the Lord, all rain and dew,
sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
Bless the Lord, all winds,
sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
Bless the Lord, fire and heat,
sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
Bless the Lord, winter cold and summer heat,
sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
Bless the Lord, dews and snows,
sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
Bless the Lord, nights and days,
sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
Bless the Lord, light and darkness,
sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
Bless the Lord, ice and cold,
sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
Bless the Lord, frosts and snows,
sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
Bless the Lord, lightnings and clouds,
sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
Let the earth bless the Lord;
let it sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
Bless the Lord, mountains and hills,
sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
Bless the Lord, all things that grow on the earth,
sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
Bless the Lord, you springs,
sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
Bless the Lord, seas and rivers,
sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
Bless the Lord, you whales and all creatures
that move in the waters,
sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
Bless the Lord, all birds of the air,
sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
Bless the Lord, all beasts and cattle,
sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
Bless the Lord, you sons of men,
sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
Bless the Lord, O Israel,
sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
Bless the Lord, you priests of the Lord,
sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
Bless the Lord, you servants of the Lord,
sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
Bless the Lord, spirits and souls of the righteous,
sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
Bless the Lord, you who are holy and humble in heart,
sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
Bless the Lord, Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael,
sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever;
for he has rescued us from Hades and saved
us from the hand of death,
and delivered us from the midst of the burning fiery furnace;
from the midst of the fire he has delivered us.
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
for his mercy endures for ever.
Bless him, all who worship the Lord, the God of gods,
sing praise to him and give thanks to him,
for his mercy endures for ever."


Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished; and he rose in haste and spoke, saying to his counselors, "Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?" They answered and said to the king, "True, O king."
"Look!" he answered, "I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God."

- Daniel 3: 46 - 92 (LXX)
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Re: The Holy Prophet Daniel and the Three Children

Postby Palaeologus » December 17th, 2007, 9:04 pm

Thank you for this, Theo. I have always loved the Benedicite (Song of the Three Young Men) which we pray at Lauds on Sundays and feasts, and as part of the office of thanksgiving after Mass. The Latin version has a wonderful, joyous rhythm to it. I remember years ago serving Mass to an aged priest, and hearing him recite it sotto voce as we processed from the altar back to the sacristy:

Benedicite, omnia opera Domini, Domino; laudate et superexaltate eum in saecula.
Benedicite, caeli, Domino, benedicite, angeli Domini, Domino.
Benedicite, aquae omnes, quae super caelos sunt, Domino, benedicat omnis virtutis Domino.
Benedicite, sol et luna, Domino, benedicite, stellae caeli, Domino.
Benedicite, omnis imber et ros, Domino, benedicite, omnes venti, Domino.
Benedicite, ignis et aestus, Domino, benedicite, frigus et aestus, Domino.
Benedicite, rores et pruina, Domino, benedicite, gelu et frigus, Domino.
Benedicite, glacies et nives, Domino, benedicite, noctes et dies, Domino.
Benedicite, lux et tenebrae, Domino, benedicite, fulgura et nubes, Domino.
Benedicite terra Dominum: laudet et superexaltet eum in saecula.
Benedicite, montes et colles, Domino, benedicite, universa germinantia in terra, Domino.
Benedicite, maria et flumina, Domino, benedicite, fontes, Domino.
Benedicite, cete, et omnia, quae moventur in aquis, Domino, benedicite, omnes volucres caeli, Domino.
Benedicite, omnes bestiae et pecora, Domino, benedicite, filii hominum, Domino.
Benedicite, Israel, Domino, laudate et superexaltate eum in saecula.
Benedicite, sacerdotes Domini, Domino, benedicite, servi Domini, Domino.
Benedicite, spiritus et animae iustorum, Domino, benedicite, sancti et humiles corde, Domino.
Benedicite, Anania, Azaria, Misael, Domino, laudate et superexaltate eum in saecula.
Benedicamus Patrem et Filium cum Sancto Spiritu; laudemus et superexaltemus eum in saecula.
Benedictus es in firmamento caeli et laudabilis et gloriosus in saecula.
Amen.
Concepts create idols; only wonder grasps anything.
- St Gregory of Nyssa
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Re: The Holy Prophet Daniel and the Three Children

Postby mia » February 12th, 2008, 9:45 am

I really love this passage.
It's one of those accounts we are so familiar with, and we know the ending, so their words that God may or may not save them, but nevertheless, they will not worship false Gods, are extremely moving.
For me, this is particularly poignant because this kind of persecution still exists, and our brothers & sisters continue to say, whatever you do to us, still we will worship.
Thanks for the thread.
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Re: The Holy Prophet Daniel and the Three Children

Postby hughm » February 12th, 2008, 3:02 pm

Nice thread Theo

God bless

Hugh ;)
God bless

Hugh :hello:
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Re: The Holy Prophet Daniel and the Three Children

Postby Theophilus » December 17th, 2008, 2:44 pm

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