Summary: No matter what is going on in our lives, no matter the fires we experience, God is our preserver. He may not rescue us from the fire today, but will rescue us from the fires of Hell in the end if we are faithful to Him.
When we think of summer, what’s the first thing we think of? Usually the heat. Temperatures in the 90s. High humidity making it feel like it’s over 100O.
We think of vacations. We think of taking time off work for a few days to get away from the hectic rat-race of our lives. We look forward to the break. We look forward to experiencing something new.
Many times we go some place on vacation to get cool: the beach. Swimming in the ocean. Swimming in the pool. Or you go to that waterpark to get some relief from the heat.
We try to escape the heat in any way we can.
When we think of summer we also think of grand firework displays — celebrating the 4th of July.
Summer also reminds us of things like family reunions and county fairs.
Summer brings camping.
Camping brings campfires. Sitting around a campfire whether as a family or at some place like church camp, enjoying the warmth at night. Roasting marshmallows. Making s’mores. Cooking hotdogs on tree twigs.
And when we are not away from home, we fire up that old grill, put on some steaks, hamburgers or hotdogs, and listen to them sizzle. The aroma fills the entire neighborhood.
Summer is certainly filled with hot.
Summer is certainly about the sizzle.
Over the next few weeks, we are going to look at some “hot” stories from the Bible — during our sizzling hot summer. From these stories, I hope that we re-discover some of God’s characteristics that, we as we get older, we take for granted.
Then, we will close out this study considering how we should react to those characteristics of God.
This morning, I want to start with a very familiar story from the Old Testament, found in Daniel 3.
The names Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego have captured our imaginations in various settings. They have been set to music. Parents have used them to put their children to bed: “Shadrach, Meshach, and To-Bed-We-Go.” I ran across one that I thought was original: “Your shack, my shack, and the bungalow.”
Despite, though, the catchy sounds of these names, the actual story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in Daniel 3 is one of great intensity and drama.
There’s much we can learn from this story about God from their encounter with Nebuchadnezzar and the fiery furnace.
If you remember, at the end of Daniel 2, Daniel was able to interpret King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. Because of this, the King made Daniel a very senior officer in the empire of Babylon.
At Daniel’s suggestion, the King also gave Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego positions of authority in the province of Babylon.
At that point, these boys are still just that — boys — teenagers at best — most likely not even 21 years old.
By the time we get to chapter 3, though, about 20 years has elapsed. During this time, these three had been serving as officials of the government, and as a matter of course, they had gained responsibilities, authority, and enemies.
So, let’s look at Daniel 3 to pick up the story.
1 King Nebuchadnezzar made a gold statue ninety feet tall and nine feet wide and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. 2 Then he sent messages to the high officers, officials, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates, and all the provincial officials to come to the dedication of the statue he had set up. 3 So all these officials came and stood before the statue King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.
4 Then a herald shouted out, “People of all races and nations and languages, listen to the king’s command! 5 When you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes, and other musical instruments, bow to the ground to worship King Nebuchadnezzar’s gold statue. 6 Anyone who refuses to obey will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.”
7 So at the sound of the musical instruments, all the people, whatever their race or nation or language, bowed to the ground and worshiped the gold statue that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.
8 But some of the astrologers went to the king and informed on the Jews. 9 They said to King Nebuchadnezzar, “Long live the king! 10 You issued a decree requiring all the people to bow down and worship the gold statue when they hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes, and other musical instruments. 11 That decree also states that those who refuse to obey must be thrown into a blazing furnace. 12 But there are some Jews—Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego—whom you have put in charge of the province of Babylon. They pay no attention to you, Your Majesty. They refuse to serve your gods and do not worship the gold statue you have set up.” (Daniel 3, NLT)