June 17, 2024

Lessons From the Furnace

We are being called to walk by faith unlike anytime in American history.

It had to be frustrating! These three government employees did everything their boss had asked them to do. They showed up to the mandated religious service. They didn’t call in sick or just not show up thinking they might not be missed in the huge crowd. But one decision put them into the “hot seat” — literally!

Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah — you might know them as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego — were just young Jewish men who had defied the order of Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar to bow before his golden idol he set up outside the city of Babylon. You see, these young men were devout Jews. And while they obeyed the king’s orders, there came a point at which they could no longer conform, no longer go along to get along. They refused to bow to the king’s idol.

The king did not receive their actions kindly. For obeying their sincerely held religious convictions, they were arrested and bound from head to toe. There was no hanging, no firing squad, no electric chair. These guys were thrown into a fiery furnace that was so hot (seven times the normal) that it fried the guards tasked with throwing them into the fire.

Like all tyrants (and progressives), Nebuchadnezzar did not like anyone not bending to his will. You would have thought Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were candidates running against the king in an upcoming election!

Put yourself in their shoes. Their faith in God was deeply rooted in who they were. They obeyed up to the point at which it would violate their conscience. They just could not bow! They obeyed God, and here was their reward: They were bound head to toe and about to be thrown into the fiery furnace.

The king offered them a win-lose scenario. Bow, you win; don’t bow, you lose. They saw it differently. They basically said, If we bow, we burn in the fires of hell. If we don’t bow, if we perish, we’ll graduate to Heaven. And if God delivers us from the fire, it’ll be awesome. We can’t lose! It was a win-win!

Well, if you read Daniel Chapter 3, God delivered them from the fire. In fact, Nebuchadnezzar saw someone else in the fire with them as they danced around and were loosened from the things that had bound them. The king didn’t know who the “fourth man in the fire” was, but He looked like the Son of God. Notice this appearance of Jesus in the Old Testament. He was in the fire with them, not above asking them if they were okay.

As Christians today, we are seeing a culture that has been and continues to be more hostile to our faith. Like believers in communist, Muslim, Hindu, and even peaceful Buddhist nations, Christians here are subjected to persecution and suffering. Government nihilists raid our homes if we are pro-life. They arrest us if we go to church during a pandemic. You see where this is going. They are not throwing us into the fire … yet.

It’s part of the package. Jesus suffered and was brutally beaten and hung naked before the world on a Roman cross. Being called a few names and mocked by faithless people doesn’t compare! We are being called to walk by faith unlike anytime in American history. Don’t despair — God is in control!

“Be ye not weary in well doing, for in due season we shall reap if we faint not!” (Galatians 6:9)

Something to pray about!
Semper Fidelis

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