Faith On Fire
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego lived lives of bondage in Babylon. Because of their intelligence, they served in the kings palace rather than the fields, but in their hearts they still had faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Their master was an arrogant man who created his own god, an image of gold ninety feet high and nine feet wide. He passed a law that under the penalty of death, everyone must worship his idol whenever the sound of music was heard. Everyone complied out of fear for their lives, but not these three men of faith.
Hebrews 11:1 tells us that “faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Faith is hard to quantify or point to, it's only revealed outside of our hearts in times of trial or testing. Fear is just faith in the wrong god. A peaceful life isn't the reward for faith, because such a life doesn't require it. Strong faith only exists in the lives of those who have been through the fire of trials.
When King Nebuchadnezzar found out that three of his slaves were not complying with his orders, he gave them one last chance to change their behavior. “But if you do not worship [what I tell you to worship], you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand.” (Daniel 3:15)
The king should have known better. It was that same God of Daniel that had told the king the thoughts in his head and interpreted his dreams. The king had declared that this God was “the God of gods and the Lord of kings and revealer of mysteries.” (Daniel 2:47) But it's one thing to proclaim the power of God and quite another to surrender control of your life. Nebuchadnezzar’s idol was a personification of his pride and who was in control of his life. Faith requires giving the Lord control when you don’t know what to do, trusting that He will lead and provide.
“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.” (Daniel 3:18)
Your faith in God doesn't need to be defended, it needs to be shown. God is able and God is willing. And even when it seems to us that he does not act when we expected him to do so, he is still God.
The kind was enraged and the furnace was heated seven times hotter. So hot, in fact, that the guards died from the heat as they threw these three men of faith into the fire. As the king watched with eyes of revenge, he saw four men walking around in the fire, unharmed by the flames. Jesus himself had come to meet these three disciples. Even today, God meets us in the midst of the flames. We don't walk alone when we walk with hearts of faith.
The king called the men forth and they were unharmed, without even the smell of smoke on their clothes. “They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own god.” (Daniel 3:28)
Even if our fire of faith is not as literal as it was for Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, we each have opportunities every day to choose whom we will serve, whom we will trust, and whom we will worship.