Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Daniel 3: Trial by Fire


Dan 3:16-27 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up." Then Nebuchadnezzar was furious with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and his attitude toward them changed. He ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual and commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. So these men, wearing their robes, trousers, turbans and other clothes, were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace. The king's command was so urgent and the furnace so hot that the flames of the fire killed the soldiers who took up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and these three men, firmly tied, fell into the blazing furnace. Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, "Weren't there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?" They replied, "Certainly, O king." He said, "Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods."  Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, "Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!" So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire, and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them. 

Daniel's three friends demonstrated not only faith but courage. Their answer will forever ring in the ears of future generations of true believers: "O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up." Faith makes them say, "the God we serve is able to save us", but courage makes them say, "we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up."

Faith provides the foundation for right thoughts, but it takes courage to translate thoughts into actions. Joshua was commanded four times to be not only strong (attitude) but also to be courageous (action): "Be strong and courageous" (Joshua 1:6,7,9, 18). Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego demonstrated strength in their convictions but also courage to live and die by their convictions. Sometime when faith fails (God didn't answer our prayer), courage has to take over to continue to walk by the Spirit--no matter the consequences. We need faith to believe God for His deliverance and blessing; but we need courage to stand by our faith when no deliverance and blessing are coming from God.

Nowadays, the "entitlement" culture has become God-must-bless-me-if-I-have-faith. If God doesn't bless, will we still have courage to remain faithful like Daniel's three friends? Will be willing to stand by our faith even when no deliverance comes? That is what is on trial. The fire is incidental to the whole story.

Father, grant us the faith and courageous to live by our faith and to give up our entitlement mentality. Amen.

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