Jul 1, 2020, 1:28 PM
“If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.” (Isaiah 9:9b)
Faced with an ultimatum that smacks of imminent death, what would you have done? Well three Jewish boys in exile disregarded the orders given by the most powerful king of his day - King Nebuchadnezzar, for all his subjects to bow and worship a golden image at the sound of the trumpet. On the D-day, these lads did not budge and when the report reached the king, he summoned them. He became so furious; he could not believe his ears that anyone for that matter could stand up to his decree and go scot-free. But the three Jewish lads displayed stubborn and resilient faith and would not cave in despite the obvious consequences of being fed as fuel to a blazing furnace.
Watch their immediate reaction to the ultimatum. It was one of no compromise. Their unwavering faith was raised one notch when Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and He will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if He does not, we want you to know O king that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” (Daniel 3:16-18)
Naturally, by their outright defiance they were fuelling the flames and King Nebuchadnezzar became extremely angry and enraged. His attitude towards the three Jewish boys suddenly changed. We read in the account that the king “ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual and commanded some of the strongest soldiers in the army to tie them up ... and throw them into the blazing furnace.” (Verses 19b-20)
Such staunch faith in the face of imminent death could only have been propelled by absolute assurance in the God Jehovah’s ability to
turn this situation around. These three boys were honouring God and His Word as conveyed in the Ten Commandments –“You shall have no other gods before me. You shall make for yourself no idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord Your God I am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.” (Exodus 20:3-6)
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were standing on God’s commandments not heeding the king’s decree. They were obeying a more superior order and could not bow down to idols made with hands. Thus God Yahweh, honoured their faith in return by protecting them. How? you may want to ask. Where the king expected them to be literally burnt to cinders, to this utter consternation, when he approached the entrance to the furnace, he could perceive a fourth person in the furnace. Not only that, the fire did not consume them.
Does God speak in vain? Does He say things and not back them up? Our Lord Jesus says that God’s words will never fall to the ground; meaning that they will always take effect. It is rather how we treat God’s holy word that can cause Him to demonstrate its power in our lives. The Bible is not just a series of fairy tales. Its content was put together to edify us--that God is All Powerful to save even in the minor events of our lives, not to mention the major occurrences. Nothing can stop Him. “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.”(1 Corinthians 2:9)
The Jewish boys did not put up a fight; they simply stated their case by standing on the word of God. Their obedience to God’s word paid
off not only through their deliverance but by the impact their stand had on their God who did not turn His back on them. “In the day of my trouble I will call to You and You will answer me.” (Psalm 86:7)
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1) “Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and He delivered them from their distress.” (Psalm107:6)
The faith of these Jewish boys did not only put the king to shame but also to those who had stirred up the problem by bringing the matter to the king’s attention. Their intentions were far from noble; they reacted out of spite. These boys were enjoying God’s favour for their faithfulness, because earlier they had refused to soil themselves by eating meat that had been sacrificed to idols.
Their exemplary behaviour in a foreign land, under a foreign culture brought them immense credit. They excelled in all that they had put their hands to do. He found none equal “to Daniel, Shadrach Meshach and Abednego. .... He found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom.” (Daniel 1:19-20)
Stunned by this experience, that “the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed, their robes were not scorched and there was no smell of fire on them.” (Verse 27) King Nebuchadnezzar ended giving them protection and praised the God of the trio. By so doing he acknowledged the power of the living God for “... no other god can save in this way.” (verse 29) These words were uttered by a pagan king who encountered God, the Jehovah Nissi at work.
To the saints, this is a reminder of who God is: “I am the Lord, there is none other.” (Isaiah 45:5) So believing Christians, “... do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)