Summary: If there is anything that can get your attention, it’s a fire. As a child I remember our neighbor’s house caught on fire and I watched from our window as the house was burning down.
“Faith to Face the Fire”
If there is anything that can get your attention, it’s a fire. As a child I remember our neighbor’s house caught on fire and I watched from our window as the house was burning down. Later in life the church we grew up in had a fire and the old sanctuary, no longer in use, burned completely to the ground. Word spread quickly all over town that the church had caught fire. In a small town it was the talk of the town that day. A fire gets our attention.
In this passage today we find 3 men who faced a fire. Unlike most of the fires that we face, these men had a choice as to whether or not they would go into the fire. We usually don’t have a choice. Fiery trials just come our way….seemingly out of nowhere. These men could either just go with the flow, do whatever everyone else was doing and bow down to a false God or they could burn in the fiery furnace. That was their choice. A fire is not something we would normally choose. A trial is not something we choose. But still we face them. In fact the scripture reminds us “that we should not be surprised” when they come our way. Yet we are. Every single time. They always catch us off guard.
For several weeks now I have been preaching on some trials God’s people were confronted with and then we have looked at how Jesus responded and how God’s people responded. These have been stories of grace. Stories of times when God’s people had to face difficult decisions and make a decision as to what they would do. Stories of illness, stories of hardship and trials and how God took their situation and turned it all into a Place of Grace.
In our country and around the world today we have been faced with a fiery trial as we have watched a virus spread across the world, taking the lives of over 6500 people worldwide; at least 70 of those right here in America. Now over 150 documented cases right here in Florida. And so you and I have had to decide what our response would be. This fiery trial is known as COVID-19, a virus unlike anything we have seen in our lifetime. For some it has tested their faith. Many have asked the question…..is God allowing this to get our attention? I find myself asking, what is God trying to say to His people?
I can imagine that these 3 men, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were asking the same thing regarding the trial they were facing. The king had his men build an image over 90 feet tall and nearly 20 feet wide…..it would have been visible in that area for at least 15 miles from any direction. The area was completely flat. The king summoned 7 different all of the officials for a meeting …. In our day it would be the equivalent of saying OK, everyone who is on the Federal payroll needs to show up. No one was excluded and the meeting was mandatory. And this is what the king told them. From this point forward everyone must fall down and worship this image. It was gold-plated by the way. Can you imagine? And if they didn’t, they would be thrown into the fiery furnace …. There would be no waiting period. It would happen immediately. This included everyone. The scripture says that men of every language must comply. And as soon as the music started, as soon as the instruments were played, right at the first note of the orchestra, they had to all fall down and worship. So perhaps you can imagine this huge crowd of people falling down in worship of this golden image …………. except 3 young Jews who shocked everyone and just remained standing. It was basically; it seems, that they were being asked to bow down and worship King Nebuchadnezzar. But these 3 young men remembered that the OT taught them a simple fact …. “You shall have no other gods before Jehovah God.” One of the Ten Commandments. We then learn in verses 13-14 that the king was furious with rage. How could anyone defy his orders, knowing they faced immediate death?
Now just in case they had misunderstood, the orders were repeated. Nebuchadnezzar responded by asking, “What god do you think will be able to rescue you from my hand?” This was their response. V. 16. “We do not need to defend ourselves in this matter. If we are thrown into the fiery furnace/the fire, the God we serve is fully able to deliver us from it.” Pretty bold, right? Then they go further in verse 18, “but even if he doesn’t we want you to know we still will not worship your gods.”