Summary: How will you respond when the fiery trial comes upon you? Will God deliver you from the fire, or through the fire?
When Your World Is Turned Upside Down
Facing the Fire
(Read Daniel 3 first)
Sometimes, the best sermon that’s preached is the Scripture reading.
And I have a feeling that today is one of those days.
Obviously, this is one of the greatest stories of deliverance in the Bible. It rivals David and Goliath and Daniel in the Lion’s Den. It tells us our God is a living God, He can do anything, and that He sometimes, and if we think eternally, always, delivers His faithful servants from death.
It tells us you to honor God under the most severe circumstances, where honoring Him seemingly ensures your death, and God will honor you.
So this morning I’m going to let the Scripture reading be the centerpiece of our morning’s worship. Yes, I’m going to add a few comments, but hopefully, they’ll be brief, perhaps only brief for Jim Wallace.
But one of the first things we need to notice is that sometimes God lets you go through the fire. In this case, we’re speaking literally, but I’m speaking figuratively. God could have delivered these three young Jewish men from the fire (Nebuchadnezzar could have relented or something), but instead God chose to deliver them through the fire.
Whatever kind of fire or trial you face, sometimes God will not deliver you from the trial. He may deliver you through the trial.
In fact, there are times that He leads us into the trial.
This story reminds me of the disciples being directed by Jesus to row their boat across the Sea of Galilee as night falls. He stays behind. But in the middle of the night, a storm blows up, and they’re concerned they’re going to perish. That’s when Jesus shows up walking on the water and rescues them.
Reminds me also of Proverbs 17:3: “The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold,
But the LORD tests hearts.”
In other words, this experience of the three Hebrew young men here is often the way He deals with us. He uses trials, He uses hot fires, to refine us, to refine us like gold. The Lord is not about refining silver or gold, but He is all about refining the hearts of his people. He had already done so with these three Jewish young men, in Daniel 1 and Daniel 2. They had resolved not to defile their hearts with the King’s choice food, and God had blessed them. They prayed to the Lord that Daniel would receive both King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and the interpretation, when their lives were on the line, and God came through. Their hearts had already been refined. They had already learned that when they honored God, they could trust that God would honor them. So when they encountered this incredible trial, when they faced the fire, literally a fiery furnace heated seven times beyond normal, their faith had been so strengthened that they did not hesitate to stand against the King’s command and for God’s command. They trusted God no matter what and obeyed no matter what.
And of course, it was a matter of obedience. If there’s any doubt in your mind, consider the Ten Commandment, vital, and central to the Law of the Jews and the Law of Moses. What are the first two of the Ten Commandments? Yes, “You shall have no other gods before me.” And you shall not worship any graven image as though of a god. These were the top two commandments. It was vital for them to observe them to worship their God in spirit and truth. They were not willing to compromise on this issue, as we should not be willing to compromise on our faith in Jesus as God and Savior today, and God came through for them.
Wow, what a God, what a Savior and what a deliverance!
Now is there a chance you will, we will, be tested in this way? I’d say yes! I don’t know what’s going to happen in our nation, but I do know what the Apostle Peter said about fiery trials. He told us not to be surprised when we encounter one in I Peter 4:12-13: “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; 13 but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.”
I don’t know about you, but somehow, I so often am surprised. I find myself wondering, “How did I get here,” or “God, where are you?” or “How could you have let this happen?” However, I don’t see that kind of response from Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego here. It’s as though they had prepared for this very kind of thing to happen. They are incredibly bold and confident in their response to this pagan tyrant. “O King, we don’t have to answer you in this manner. But we will not bow down and worship your image. And yes, Our God is able to rescue us from your hands, but whether He does or not, we will not bow down to your image.”