I forgot how good it is to spend time in the Word every day.
Really, I did.
A few days ago God urged me to start reading the Bible consistently again.
“Okay,” I said. “I’ll start with spending just 20 minutes praying and reading the Bible first thing in the morning, every day.”
That was a time that seemed manageable to me, and so far it has been enough to add immense peace, clarity, and goodness into my life. It’s amazing how God can multiply what we are able to give Him.
And I had forgotten how good it was.
God brought me to the book of Daniel and this morning I read through chapter 3.
This is the verse that jumped out at me:
But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we sill not serve your gods and we will not worship the golden statue that you have set up.
All You’ve Gotta Do Is Worship the Statue
Here’s what’s been going on in the world of Daniel:
First of all, the king just put up a giant statue that everyone was supposed to worship whenever the king told them to, essentially.
There were three men who refused, because they worshiped the one true God. Their names were Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
These men were brought before the king and he repeated the instructions to them:
Now if you are ready when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, drum, and entire musical ensemble to fall down and worship the statue that I have made, well and good. But if you do not worship, you shall immediately be thrown into a furnace of blazing fire, and who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?
And pretty simple.
I have to admit, if I were them I probably would have started coming up with excuses.
Surely God wouldn’t expect me to lose my life over something this insignificant.
It’s not like I have to worship it, I just have to go through the motions…
But these three men have some amazing faith, and they don’t come up with any excuses. They simply tell the king no deal.
O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to present a defense to you in this matter. If our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire and out of your hand, O king, let him deliver us. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods and we will not worship the golden statue that you have set up.
Those are the two words that I held onto this morning.
It’s possible that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had never seen God perform a miracle before. They simply believed in His power, and they believed that if it was in His will and ability to deliver them, He would.
They were also willing to accept the “if not” and honor God no matter what He did, even if it meant throwing their own lives away.
Are we willing to honor and serve God even when His plans don’t align with ours? If it could mean the cost of our dignity, our livelihood, even our lives?
Can we say honestly that we have that kind of faith and love for God?
The reality is, God could have let them die in the furnace. His will is above ours, and He had no obligation to these three men. He could have chosen at this point to end their lives.
And they knew that.
Imagine having that kind of passion for righteousness.
I also am drawn to the fact that they told King Nebuchadnezzar to his face that they had no need to present a defense to him in the matter. That is the kind of confidence you don’t find in this natural world. Their minds were so set on things unseen that they didn’t even consider the man about to murder them to be someone to be dealt with.
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:18)
Inside the Furnace
If you know this story, you know what happens next, but I don’t think it ever becomes any less incredible.
After these men are thrown into the furnace, the king and his men look in on them and see that suddenly there are four men–and they are all just casually walking around inside the furnace, unscathed.
One of the men reports that the fourth man has the appearance of a god. In the original text, this can also translate to him saying that the fourth man has the appearance of a son of a god.
I don’t think he realized how right he was.
This fourth man is Jesus. Not only does He deliver the men from death, He is present with them. He walks alongside them as they spend their time in the furnace.
That’s a man who is not just a savior–He’s also a friend.
The story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego is an example of the kind of faith I want to have.
Faith means having confidence that God will show up, but if I learned anything from this passage today it’s that faith also means trusting God when He doesn’t show up in the way that I hoped–trusting Him through the “if nots.”
It means believing He will be there in the furnace with me, whether or not I am engulfed by the flames.
At the end of the day, all that matters–all I am going to take with me at the end of this life–is the relationship that I have with Him. It doesn’t matter what happens to me over the course of my life. Right now it seems like it matters, but in two hundred years it won’t. Not even to me.
What matters is Who I turn to when circumstances are bad as well as when circumstances are good, Who I put my trust in when danger is lurking.
I want that person to be Jesus.
Until next time,