Thursday, July 30, 2015

Daniel 3:22-25 -- On Faith in the Furnace

"Therefore because the king’s commandment was urgent, and the furnace exceeding hot, the flame of the fire slew those men that took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego.
And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.
Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonied, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king.
He answered and said, 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."
Daniel 3:22-25

The idea that the flame and heat killed the men who threw them into the fire, but that they were unbound and talking to someone in the midst of the fire must have completely overwhelmed the king.  He swung from violently angry at their disobedience to him to astonished and curious, and he realized that they were obeying someone else.  After this, the commends their willingness to sacrifice for their God.  And that must have taken a lot of dedication.  All they had to do was fall to their knees when the dulcimer played and pretend to pray to a golden idol, and they would have been spared what seemingly was certain death.  But they had faith in God, and they didn't want to participate in or encourage idol worship, which is a violation of the first commandment.  They knew God had the power to save them, and they also knew that he might not.  And that *either way,* it was the right thing to do.
I stand in awe of these men.  I think I am more wishy-washy than that.  Maybe most of us are.  I hope I wouldn't chicken out in a similar situation, but I might just argue and whine a lot about how it is unfair, and not make a clear and simple stand for God.  And I think that tells me that I'm not there yet with regard to faith.  I think of Abraham, whose whole life changed when he walked away from human sacrifice... and yet because he trusted and knew God so well, he was willing to do what God asked, even when it was something he hated.  He was there, like these men were.  And maybe both of these tests were just to show them that.  That they were willing to give their lives to God.  After you know that, daily obedience can't be as much of a struggle, right? :)
Today, let's stand up for God.  We don't have to get in anyone's face to do it, but we do have to refuse to do evil, and take the initiative to do good.  Let's remember that whatever the consequences, putting God first is still, and always, the right thing to do.  Let's learn how to have the kind of faith that it takes to face the furnace.

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