Summary: Would you worship God even if He didn’t respond to your request? It’s a tough question to answer, but our worship should not be contingent on what He does.
We are often moved by people who have great stories of courage in difficult circumstances. It takes a certain resolve to be able to stand in the face of suffering or danger and not give an inch. “A man in Dundee, Sctoland, was confined to bed for forty years, having broken his neck in a fall at age fifteen. But his spirit remained unbroken, and his cheer and courage so inspired people that he enjoyed a constant stream of guests. One day a visitor asked him, “Doesn’t Satan ever tempt you to doubt God?” “Oh, yes,” replied the man. “He does try to tempt me. I lie here and see my old schoolmates driving along in their carriages and Satan whispers, ‘If God is so good, why does He keep you here all these years? Why did he permit your neck to be broken?’” “What do you do when Satan whispers those things?” asked the guest. “Ah,” replied the invalid, “I take him to Calvary, show him Christ, and point to those deep wounds, and say, ‘You see, he does love me’. And Satan has no answer to that. He flees every time.” Stories like this are inspiring because the choice is based on principle, not emotion or circumstance. Often times we are faced with situations where our resolve is tested, like Daniel’s 3 friends, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Being challenged to do something that went against God before the king they made a choice, regardless of the consequences.
1. Knowing where you stand
To set the stage for these 3 guys you have to understand a few things about who they were. These were Jewish slaves in a Babylonian kingdom that had been promoted to very high positions; they were in charge of the province of Babylon. They had been promoted to very prestigious and important places. They had proven to be trustworthy, wise and King Nebuchadnezzar valued their insight, but all of that stuff washes away very quickly when you defy the king. He had created a 27m statue, which everyone had to bow down to when the instruments sounded out and everyone did, well almost everyone. As obedient and well serving as these guys were to the king, they ultimately served the Lord. At that moment there was no question in their mind where their loyalty stood, knowing the deadly consequences of such actions, they would have no other gods before them as the first commandment clearly states.
When we are met with challenging circumstances, whether they are physical, mental or spiritual, if we do not know where we stand according to the Word then it is very difficult to stand at all. Lack of knowledge breeds weakness and confusion.
2. Trusting in the Lord
As often happens, some guys were more than happy to snitch on these 3 men of faith. They had stood up for what they knew to be true, but now it was time to face the music. As you can imagine their infidelity to the king sent Nebby into a rage. No one disobeys the king, especially foreign slaves whom he had been so kind to. He questions them as they are brought before him and gives them another chance to bow down, just in case maybe they just didn’t hear the music the last time. In the face of being thrown into a furnace and certain death he poses a very important question that is often put to us even today, “What god will be able to rescue you from my power then?” Their answer is inspirational. Absolute trust in the God they served. They stood there before the king and those in his court and declared their unwavering convictions, even if they died in the fire.
These are moments in life when our true convictions come out. Moments when we are challenged with something monumental, something we hadn’t planned on, something that we don’t understand. We all have moments when everything around us is being shaken and we must stand firm or be shaken along with everything else. What we need to understand is that only things built upon the rock with remain unbroken. The parable Jesus shared about the house built on the sand and the one built on the rock speaks to this point. When the storm comes in your life are you firm in whom you trust or does everything go flying out the window when things begin to shake?
3. Walking into the fire
Imagine how angry this would have made the king? The amazing thing about this story is that these guys were put before the furnace, bound by strong men and thrown into a furnace that was 7 times hotter than usual, so hot it killed the soldiers who threw them in. God didn’t whisk them away or destroy the king because they were faithful; they were thrown in. The remarkable thing is what happened next (vs 24-28). The whole kingdom saw the glory of God that day and recognized God for who he is! They had to go into the fire so that God could be shown to be great.