In the Fire

The message was brought by Rev. Stuart Orr.

Daniel 3:16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. 17 If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. 18 But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up. 19 Then was Nebuchadnezzar full of fury, and the form of his visage was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego: therefore he spake, and commanded that they should heat the furnace one seven times more than it was wont to be heated. 20 And he commanded the most mighty men that were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace.

Sometimes we need to go back to the old stories that many of us grew up with in Bible school but that now some don’t know. I love the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and their dedication to God. Against their will they were in Babylon. The sins of their fathers and their nation is what got them there. If the nation of Israel had stayed with God throughout history, they would have always been the strongest nation in the Middle East. If we keep God’s word we are choosing blessing.

King Nebuchadnezzar set up a golden image and commanded that when music played the people were supposed to bow down to it. He was in effect creating a new god. The music played but there were three Jews who said no. They served Jehovah God.  In my mind I see it like this. The music played and the people bowed but looked around to see what was going on. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego stuck out standing up like pins on a pin cushion. People started punching each other. “Look at those three. They’re not bowing. What about them?” I had that happen to me once in electrician class. I’d been doing it for a long time and had a project assigned by the teacher. I did it and he asked where my drawing I was. I said really? Is the project right? He said yes and I asked why I needed a drawing? He was going to let me get by until someone else asked why he had to do a drawing if I didn’t. I did a drawing. The tattletalers of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s day went to the king. He didn’t know it. That’s what the devil does. He causes trouble. The king called the boys in and explained it to them again. They were plain in their answer. We will not bow down to this image. He got mad and commanded the furnace to be made hotter. Why did he call his mightiest men to tie up the three. They had done nothing to warrant this. They would have held out their arms to be tied. 

Had they never dealt with this fire they would not have known the miracle to come. The Lord may send us in the fire to show us a miracle. I’m sure these three would have said they’d rather not go into that fire if they’d been asked. They didn’t have a choice. Later the king looked in and he “was astonished, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?” I don’t believe anyone is really an atheist.  My daughter has written papers in college about her faith. Kid’s faith gets tried too especially if they were saved at a younger age. You can see it at about 14, 15 or 16 years old. I could see her go through it. I prayed a lot for her.  Then I watched a young Christian woman emerge. This professor is not a Christian. He told her he’s an agnostic, using words she didn’t even understand. All that means is he’s not sure if there is a God or not. We’re all accountable to God. Some may say the earth if flat. It is not and even if people believe it is, the fact is not changed. The earth is round. So for a person to not believe God exists doesn’t change that he is.  The unbelieving king knew that fourth man was the son of God. All people who won’t worship God now will fall down and bow one day.

How does this serve me now? The God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego is the same today. He’s the same God of Abraham, the same one who walked with Adam and Eve in the Garden.  The Old Testament teaches us what God expects of us. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego went through a fiery trial. We may too. Let’s look at First Peter 1.

1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2 Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied. 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: 7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.

A believer is sanctified-set apart for a special purpose. This means you and I lay me aside and put God first. This is obedience. Israel was brought out of Egypt and given an inheritance. They ruined it. We must all be born again. There are not two ways to God, one for Jew and Gentile. Israel walked away ruining their first inheritance. Now there is an incorruptible inheritance. We are saved by faith.  We are saved to good works (not by them). We are in a season of trial. Every season has an end. Was it needful for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to go through this fire? Yes it was. This experience has stood as an example of faith for thousands of years. God is right there with us in the trials and temptations. Are you weary and tired? Just hang on a little longer. Is it fair? No. Adam sinned and it passed on to all of us. Our body tells us there is an end. None of us are what we used to be physically. We still need to do our part for God and not get down in the dumps. The inheritance is waiting on us.

We don’t know what heaven will be like but it’s going to consist of lots more than many think. The Bible tells us our eye hasn’t seen or our ears heard what’s in store for us. God will exceed our imaginations. Be a Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and hold on. Let it be known you will not bow or bend. 

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