The next morning, his wife was talking to their next door neighbor. She said, “You won’t believe it, but my husband stopped helping with the kids at night. All he does is goes outside & makes noises like a turkey.” The neighbor lady said, “Hey! My husband does the same thing!”
Happy Father’s Day! I hope your conversations are more meaningful, & that your family comes before the turkey living next door.
For most people, when they see a house on fire, their 1st instinct is not to rush into the flames. If someone is in the house, & it seems possible to get them out, some will risk their lives to save someone else. Most will wait for the trained professionals to arrive. Firemen are much more than people who run into burning buildings. In fact, most of the time they don’t rush in, either. They know that it is more effective to assess the situation, check the stability of the structure and make a plan of action.
But they still don’t simply rush into the fire. They wear flame-proof clothing, they cover their bodies, their hands & their faces. They make sure they have good air to breath, because a fire takes uses up the oxygen. Then they go carefully in, looking for any people who might still be in the midst of the fire.
We ended last week in a tough spot. Daniel 3:19-23 Then Nebuchadnezzar was filled with fury, and the expression of his face was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He ordered the furnace heated seven times more than it was usually heated. 20 And he ordered some of the mighty men of his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace. 21 Then these men were bound in their cloaks, their tunics, their hats, and their other garments, and they were thrown into the burning fiery furnace. 22 Because the king's order was urgent and the furnace overheated, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. 23 And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell bound into the burning fiery furnace.
These were the friends of Daniel, who believed in God so strongly that they chose to stand for Him rather than bow down to the statue of Nebuchadnezzar. They would give their lives for the King of kings, instead of bowing down to an earthly king who decided that he was a god.
They rushed into the fire to die for their belief in God.
But they didn’t die. Vs. 24-25 Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” 25 He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.”
Often people get caught up on the phrase “son of the gods”, because unfortunately there are translations that say, “the Son of God”. That is not what the text really says, but let’s explore the idea for a moment. Some believe this was a pre-incarnate appearing of Christ. IOW, Jesus appearing before his physical birth 600 years later. Whether you believe this was Jesus or if you believe it was an angel, I won’t disagree. I am learning to say what many pastors have a really hard time saying: I don’t know.
In fact, I will go so far as to say that it doesn’t ultimately matter. If a king did something, or made a statement, he would be listened to and honored. If His messenger did something or made a statement, it would be considered to be just as if the king had been there in person. So, whether the King or His messenger, an angel, was walking in the furnace with the 3 men, the miracle is the same, the rescue still happens, & the end result is not altered.
The point is, God intervened on behalf of those who were willing to give their lives for Him. Does He always? No. Men, women & children are martyred every day in the name of Jesus. Did God forsake them? No. Because where are they now? Safe with Jesus. Even if you are called to die for Jesus, He will never leave you & never forsake you. He will take you to be with Him forever.
4 were walking around the furnace. I picture them talking, thanking the One who rushed into the fire on their behalf. They weren’t scorched. In fact, they didn’t even smell of smoke. Notice that the ropes of bondage were the only things that burnt away. That’s what He does for us. When we face the flames, & there seems to be no way out, He burns away the ropes of bondage.
You may be facing deep sorrow today, overwhelming family struggles, sickness & pain, relationship challenges, financial burdens, depression, or some other fire. There are times you just don’t feel like trusting Jesus. It seems easier just to hide.
I think it takes an act of the will sometimes when we are in the pit, when we are bound & facing the flames, to say, “Jesus, I choose to trust You. There is nothing in me that has the power to face this situation, but I choose to trust YOU. I CHOOSE to BELIEVE that You are with me, & that you won’t forsake me, You won’t leave me in this place. Whatever you do, I will trust in You.”
3 men in a hot place trusted God. They didn’t know for sure that God would deliver them, but they knew that He could. Vs. 17-18 …our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. 18 But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”
God, I don’t know how you will work in this situation. I simply choose to trust You, & to live for You. 3 men were put into the fire. 4 had fellowship with each other as they walked around together.
Vs. 26-30 Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the door of the burning fiery furnace; he declared, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here!” Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out from the fire. 27 And the satraps, the prefects, the governors, and the king's counselors gathered together and saw that the fire had not had any power over the bodies of those men. The hair of their heads was not singed, their cloaks were not harmed, and no smell of fire had come upon them. 28 Nebuchadnezzar answered and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set aside the king's command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God. 29 Therefore I make a decree: Any people, nation, or language that speaks anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be torn limb from limb, and their houses laid in ruins, for there is no other god who is able to rescue in this way.” 30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the province of Babylon.
Nebuchadnezzar saw the power of God. He realized that God was greater than the king’s commands. So he made another decree. No other god could have done this. So don’t say anything bad about this God, or else. One wrong word & I’ll have you ripped apart, your house & family destroyed. I guess that will show honor to their God. Instead of worship, the king issued threats.
The king also gave a proclamation. But he stopped short of saying that he chose to live for God.
Daniel 4:1-3 King Nebuchadnezzar to all peoples, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth: Peace be multiplied to you! 2 It has seemed good to me to show the signs and wonders that the Most High God has done for me. 3 How great are his signs, how mighty his wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion endures from generation to generation.
It is amazing how the god of Babylon, our enemy, can blind people to their need for a savior. Nebuchadnezzar acknowledged that there is a God in heaven, that He is the Most High God, that He does great wonders, that His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, & that His dominion, His glory will never fade.
But he didn’t turn to God. He acknowledged God as being greater than the ones he worshipped, but he stopped short of living for Him. Sometimes when you share the Good News of Jesus, the one who hears will agree with everything you say, but they will stop short of accepting Christ. Don’t be discouraged. Remember that seeds need to be planted & watered before new life is seen. It may be that God is bringing that one to Himself. It might be that someone else at a future point leads that one to Jesus. But it was you planting the seed, & watering what you could not see, that will lead to that new life.
Nebuchadnezzar needed to see the power of God at work. It wasn’t until he saw God working up close in his own life that real transformation happened. But that’s a story for next week.
3 young men were the instruments of God’s power. They were witnesses to God’s goodness. They experienced physical salvation so those in Babylon would know that there is also spiritual salvation through their God. They stood up when everyone else bowed down. & they never backed down, even when it meant being condemned to death.
When you are in the fire, what do people see? It depends on what you do before you go into the fire. If you live for you, & you stand for nothing, don’t expect to have victory in the fire. But if you live for Jesus, & you stand for Him, when you go into the fire, people will see someone who has victory even in the most difficult situation. They will see you with a peace they could never understand apart from God, because you are still walking with Jesus, & talking with Him, right in the middle of the fire.
If you haven’t been in the fire, & you aren’t in the fire now, just wait. If you are living for Jesus, at some point your faith will be tested. When that happens, remember that you are not alone. There is Someone who ran into the fire to be with you. Wherever you go, in whatever situation you find yourself, if you look for Him, you will see God right there beside you.
Psalm 139:7-12 Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? 8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! 9 If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, 10 even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. 11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” 12 even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.
He really will be with you wherever you are. He won’t leave you. Even when you don’t feel Him with you, He hasn’t forsaken you. Simply whisper His name. Invite Him to walk around in the fire with you. Then thank Him for how He is working in your life & in your situation.