The Fiery Furnace

Daniel 3

The most powerful man on earth is no match for the God of heaven…who is in control? God rescues the boys from the king’s arrogance and wrath, and the king in turn acknowledges the greatness of their God and promotes them within the kingdom…

God can save…God will save…but even if He doesn’t. This story hits the can and will, but what about the “but even if He doesn’t”? Would you still trust Him? There seems to be two pit falls to avoid…on the one side, making it about the power of your faith. In other words, if you believe enough or have enough people praying for you then you will be healed or rescued from your current circumstances or whatever. The contra is also thought to be true…if you are not healed then something’s failed in regards to faith. We end up putting faith in faith. This pit fall fails to recognize that God in His sovereignty may choose not to act according to our definition of what’s best. He’s still God and He’s still good.

On the other side, interpreting the “but even if He doesn’t” as His inability to heal or rescue or whatever. This pit fall fails to recognize God’s power to do the impossible.

One other option…He just doesn’t care. I hope that if you’ve been with us through the Genesis series, you know that’s not true. He’s been pursuing us from the time we rebelled against Him in the garden. He’s gone to incredible lengths to demonstrate His love for you. “For God so loved the world, He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”

Any one of these pitfalls can be disastrous to our walk. In the movie, God is not Dead, the professor makes the revealing statement that the most ardent atheists were once Christians who somehow disappointed by God. A sad commentary because it reveals that their god was different that Nebuchadnezzar…powerless, dependent on their whims and subject to their wills. That’s not the God of the Bible.

Hebrews 11, the hall of faith, paints a different picture. There are of course the folks who have accomplished the remarkable…closed the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, put foreign armies to flight, women received back their dead by resurrection. But then there are those who were persecuted, sawn in two, put to death with the sword, etc. dying in faith without having received the promises.

Peter, Paul and the rest of the apostles, as well as countless other saints throughout church history are testimonies to the “but even if He doesn’t”. In the book of Revelation, the hero is the martyr who does not love his life even unto death. And of course our greatest example is our Savior Himself who went to a cross. All trusted God and were unwavering in their faith, despite their current circumstances. Knowing the future of the earthly kingdoms, gave them the confidence to follow God under the rule of these earthly kings.

Jim Elliott famously said, “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

A reminder that we are talking about life here on planet earth…life in the physical realm this side of eternity…life in a broken, fallen world where pain and suffering and death are a reality. But if we have trusted in Jesus, we’ve already been rescued and reclaimed. We are citizens of the eternal kingdom, sons and daughters of the King of the universe. Spiritually speaking then, our God can and will because He has…Jesus has already defeated sin and death, He has already crushed the head of the serpent. We long for the day when we see that fully played out, when heaven and earth are reunited, when faith becomes sight, when the Rock becomes the mountain that fills the earth, when all is on earth as it is in heaven.

So where are you today? Are you taking bold risks for God, trusting that He can and will save you? But even if He doesn’t, are you still willing to follow Him, knowing that He is working out His good purpose for you? Who is that Nebuchadnezzar in your life that is waiting to see whether or not God is real based on your faithfulness to Him in impossible circumstances?

Until next time…stay salty.

This post is based on our Daniel series entitled Reclaimed. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on twitter: @ccclancaster

Weekend Passage – May 2

Daniel 3

The King’s Golden Image

Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, the height of which was sixty cubits and its width six cubits; he set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. Then Nebuchadnezzar the king sent word to assemble the satraps, the prefects and the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the judges, the magistrates and all the rulers of the provinces to come to the dedication of the image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up. Then the satraps, the prefects and the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the judges, the magistrates and all the rulers of the provinces were assembled for the dedication of the image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up; and they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up. Then the herald loudly proclaimed: “To you the command is given, O peoples, nations and men of every language, that at the moment you hear the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery, bagpipe and all kinds of music, you are to fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king has set up. But whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire.” Therefore at that time, when all the peoples heard the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery, bagpipe and all kinds of music, all the peoples, nations and men of every language fell down and worshiped the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up.

Worship of the Image Refused

For this reason at that time certain Chaldeans came forward and brought charges against the Jews. They responded and said to Nebuchadnezzar the king: “O king, live forever! 10 You, O king, have made a decree that every man who hears the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery, and bagpipe and all kinds of music, is to fall down and worship the golden image. 11 But whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire. 12 There are certain Jews whom you have appointed over the administration of the province of Babylon, namely Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego. These men, O king, have disregarded you; they do not serve your gods or worship the golden image which you have set up.”

13 Then Nebuchadnezzar in rage and anger gave orders to bring Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego; then these men were brought before the king. 14 Nebuchadnezzar responded and said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up? 15 Now if you are ready, at the moment you hear the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery and bagpipe and all kinds of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, very well. But if you do not worship, you will immediately be cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire; and what god is there who can deliver you out of my hands?”

16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego replied to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter. 17 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. 18 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.”

Daniel’s Friends Protected

19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was filled with wrath, and his facial expression was altered toward Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego. He answered by giving orders to heat the furnace seven times more than it was usually heated. 20 He commanded certain valiant warriors who were in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego in order to cast them into the furnace of blazing fire. 21 Then these men were tied up in their trousers, their coats, their caps and their other clothes, and were cast into the midst of the furnace of blazing fire. 22 For this reason, because the king’s command was urgent and the furnace had been made extremely hot, the flame of the fire slew those men who carried up Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego. 23 But these three men, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, fell into the midst of the furnace of blazing fire still tied up.

24 Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astounded and stood up in haste; he said to his high officials, “Was it not three men we cast bound into the midst of the fire?” They replied to the king, “Certainly, O king.” 25 He said, “Look! I see four men loosed and walking about in the midst of the fire without harm, and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods!” 26 Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the door of the furnace of blazing fire; he responded and said, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, come out, you servants of the Most High God, and come here!” Then Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego came out of the midst of the fire. 27 The satraps, the prefects, the governors and the king’s high officials gathered around and saw in regard to these men that the fire had no effect on the bodies of these men nor was the hair of their head singed, nor were their trousers damaged, nor had the smell of fire even come upon them.

28 Nebuchadnezzar responded and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, who has sent His angel and delivered His servants who put their trust in Him, violating the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies so as not to serve or worship any god except their own God. 29 Therefore I make a decree that any people, nation or tongue that speaks anything offensive against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego shall be torn limb from limb and their houses reduced to a rubbish heap, inasmuch as there is no other god who is able to deliver in this way.” 30 Then the king caused Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego to prosper in the province of Babylon.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB © The Lockman Foundation (www.lockman.org)