Summary: When the pressures of life close in upon us, Where can we draw stregth?
Our text for today allows us to see God working in the
lives of his people bringing salvation to them in the midst of the "heat" and pressures of life. And while we would all agree that this is the purpose of our faith and could draw a pretty good lesson from this fact for our lives, I don’t want us to just leave it there.
I have been particularly impressed by this passage
lately. Sometimes God takes a text and brings new light to it when you are reading it at different times in your life... Anyway, this is another of those Old Stories that is familiar to those of us who grew up in Sunday school... you may even remember singing songs about Daniel in the Lion’s den and three Hebrew children in the fiery furnace. So this story, perhaps more than many others is rooted deeply in our being from an early age. We almost always focus in this story upon the fact that God sustained the Hebrew children throughout this ordeal by being with them in the fire. Rewarding them for their faithfulness.
However, I would propose to you that at least one of the reasons that God chose to intervene so powerfully in this situation is because he knew that it would bring Nebuchadnezzar to faith in him and the power that this King wielded among the people of the earth could be turned into a great evangelistic influence on behalf of the Kingdom of God.
Remember that Nebuchadnezzar was the one who looked into the furnace and was so impressed by what he saw there that he ordered the Hebrew children out of the
furnace and then commanded that everyone in the kingdom
should worship the one true God of the Israelites. This is the command from the same man who moments earlier had thrown these Hebrews into the furnace for not worshiping him. Amazing, isn’t it, how God can bring transformation into the lives of those who are confronted with his power. From a self serving, hate filled, man of corruption one moment to a Man who is willing to fully submit his own life and his entire
fortune and reign over to the God who walks through fire to save his children. This is a pretty amazing proposition.
Our text is preceded by several examples of Daniel and
his three friends had trying to bear witness to God and being repeatedly rejected for their witness and now just a few verses later we read how their witness was made even more powerful as they submitted themselves to God in prayer and relinquished control of their destinies to God’s hands.
Now, you and I may feel that we have done everything
in our power to win others to Christ and we may have, but that is exactly the point. We have tried to do everything in OUR power! We have not fully handed over our outreach efforts to God. It was not really the fact that the Hebrew children were not destroyed by the fire that puzzled Nebuchadnezzar. Rather, it was the presence of the fourth man in the fire. It was the fact that someone larger than himself was in control of the situation that he had so carefully
orchestrated. This is bound to have an impact.
Think about times when you have made careful plans
and then those plans are interrupted by situations that are totally out of your own scope of control. This may make us angry, especially at first... but, we almost always seek to understand the cause behind the failure of our plan. If we, like Nebuchadnezzar, had devised a plan that was as murderous and contrary to the will of God and then, that plan was interrupted and overpowered by God we would be just as fearful as Nebuchadnezzar was and would be just as willing to admit that God was in fact great enough for us to acknowledge as the one who is truly in control.
Nebuchadnezzar was truly a powerful man and as such
was more feared than any other man in his time. He, then, admits that he is nothing before God and it is out of obedience to this man that other people begin to worship God. God has a tendency to use this type of person. There are several times in scripture when God had chosen to use people who were of influence to bring others to faith. This, however, was never accomplished without that person being stripped of their own power and brought to a point of reliance
upon God. Out of an event which was clearly an
embarrassing one for Nebuchadnezzar, he was brought to
faith and became an “evangelist” of sorts within a few mere moments. This is an amazing testimony to the power of God to transform lives in any way that he sees fit.