Summary: A faith that is tested by fire is a faith that can be trusted.
FEARLESS is a five-part series based on Old Testament stories of people who faced great fears. I’m sure these individuals had fears in their lives, but when they were faced with the choice of following God or giving in to their fears, they chose to fearlessly obey the Lord.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were three young men who faced one of the most difficult decisions you could ever imagine: disobey God and live or obey God and die.
In 605 B.C., Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, attacked and conquered Judah (1:1-2). Following his victory, Nebuchadnezzar ordered that the best and brightest young men of Judah be deported to Babylon. His plan was to train these young men for three years and then given some of them positions in the royal court (1:3-5). Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were among this group.
The three years of training in Babylon was really an attempt to brainwash the Jewish captives. Nebuchadnezzar wanted Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, and the others to become so indoctrinated in Babylonian culture that at the end of their training they would think and act like Babylonians. Even the names of the young men were changed. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s original names were Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah (1:6-7). Their Jewish names honored the Lord, but their new names honored the gods of the Babylonians.
The Babylonians could change their names, but they couldn’t change their hearts. They would remain loyal to the God of Israel no matter what.
WHEN YOUR FAITH IS TESTED BY FIRE
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV).
King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, ninety feet high and nine feet wide, and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon (Daniel 3:1).
Then the herald loudly proclaimed, “This is what you are commanded to do, O peoples, nations and men of every language: As soon as you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and all kinds of music, you must fall down and worship the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace” (Daniel 3:4-6).
The music sounded and everyone bowed low except for three men who stood tall: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
“Now when you hear [the music], if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I have made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?” (Daniel 3:15).
A faith that is tested by fire is a faith that can be TRUSTED.
Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you (1 Peter 4:12 NKJV).
On July 19 in the year 64 A.D., Rome burned. The Romans believed that Emperor Nero was responsible. Nero blamed the Christians. And this began the Roman persecution of Christians. The “fiery trial” may refer to the burning of Christians in Rome by Nero. (Many scholars believe that 1 Peter was written either just before or after the burning or Rome and that Peter wrote from Rome.)
...now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine (1 Peter 1:6-7).
A faith that endures the fiery trials of life is a faith that can be trusted. Here is a question for you to think about: “Can your faith handle the fire?”
• Could your faith handle the trial of an unanswered prayer?
• Could your faith handle the trial of personal loss (money, health, someone you love)?
• Could your faith handle the trial of betrayal?
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were people just like you and me. They were young men who had hopes and dreams for the future. They wanted to live. They didn’t want to die. But they were faced with a difficult choice: bow down to an image or be burned alive.
What would you do? If I were in their place, I might rationalize why it wouldn’t be so bad to bow down to the image:
• I will bow down but not actually worship the idol.
• I will worship this one time and then ask God for forgiveness.
• This is a foreign land. God will excuse me for following the customs of the land.
• My ancestors set up idols in God’s temple! This isn’t half as bad!
• Everyone else is doing it.