..."and a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the way of holiness; evil minded people shall not travel on it, but it shall be for those wayfarers who are traveling toward God. (Isaiah 35:8, adapted)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Daniel Bible Study: "But If Not...": The Fiery Furnace of Faith

Daniel Chapter Three:

"Our God whom we serve is able to
deliver us from the burning fiery
furnace, BUT IF NOT, let it be known to
you, O King, that we will not serve
your gods or worship the golden image
which you have set up" (Daniel 3:17,18).

Our faith in God does not guarantee our
earthly safety. It does not guarantee
that we will not suffer for our faith.
It only guarantees that we are known
and eternally kept by God and that
nothing can snatch us out of His Hands,
not even death.

In the third chapter of Daniel, King
Nebuchadnezzar has built a giant statue
of gold that he has commanded everyone
to worship. Word reaches the king, as word
always does,that Shadrach, Meschach, and
Abednego are not bowing down and worshipping
the image.

King Nebuchadnezzar is furious. He offers
them "a chance" to worship the image.
Gee, "thanks, but no thanks!" They
emphatically decline. No matter what, they
are not going to compromise their devotion
to the Living God! We, too, have to have
this same mind. For them, it was not
even an issue. They say, "It is not
necessary for us to answer you on this point"
(vs 16).

The thought of it is so ridiculous
and the request so ludicrous in their minds
that they do no even feel they need to reply
to the king. Jesus, too, when He stood before
Pilate, also said nothing (Mark 15:1-5). The
truth would fall on deaf ears and make the
judgment all the worse. The pure action of
faith, of remaining true to God, of trusting
Him with our lives and not defending
ourselves, speaks louder than words. Truth,
incarnated, speaks louder than words.

The three men in this account have utmost
faith in God: they trust Him no matter what
He decides for them. May we have such faith!
May death and life be the same for us as we
walk out our devotion to the Lord!

They know that God is able to deliver them,
BUT IF NOT, if He should choose to let them
die at the hands of their enemies, so be it!
This does not show a lack of faith, but
an abandonment to God, a greater faith!

It is easy to follow God when He delivers
us and causes our enemies to be routed.
But when deliverance is slow to come or
in His great purposes, He allows a deliverance
that takes us out of this world into His
everlasting kingdom, then our faith, or
the faith of those watching what happens
to us, can waiver.

The Christian church, it is said, is built
on the blood of the martyrs. There is a
godly legacy both of earthly deliverance,
and of deliverance unto the presence of
the Lord. Hebrews 11, the great faith
chapter, tells us of those that lived
in faith, and those that died in faith.
There is no difference, really. Those that
were not delivered did not have less faith,
their faith did not fail them for their
faith was not in the deliverance but
in the God of deliverance.

We do not believe in God because of what
He can do for us, but because He is who
He says He is and we adore that!
The days are coming when we may need to
take great comfort from this story
of persecution. When the three were cast
into the fiery furnace by the crazed
Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuchadnezzar watched,
perhaps through some sort of opening, to
see what would happen to them.

To his amazement he saw, "one like the
son of God" in the oven with them. Now
whether this be an angel or Christ,
Himself, is not for us to argue, but
be assured that God is always with us
in our trials and in our sufferings.
He never leaves us to suffer alone, never
leaves us to endure something that He has
not, or would not, endure also. Never
fails to provide what we need to endure!
What a great promise!

The three men of faith emerged uncinged
from the fire. They did not even smell
of smoke! What a great deliverance!
May we look for our deliverance on
earth, BUT IF NOT, let us determine
that our proclamation of the Lord, and
of His kingdom, will remain uncompromised.
This is our call and it is a glorious one!

(This is part of a series on the Book
of Daniel. Other studies are filed
in the archives under "Daniel Bible Study")

1 comment:

FollowJesusAlone said...

Again, good article on Daniel 3! Yes, even the smell of smoke was not on the three friends of Daniel. The LORD will deliver us from the smoke of Hell when we Walk by Faith in His Name! The Victory is ours whether the world sees it or not! Hallelujah to Name of Jesus Christ our LORD AND King!