Through the Fire
When we look at the book of Daniel, we see that the children of Israel, through disobedience to God, found themselves captives yet again. This time they fell under the rule of Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. During this time, in his second year, the King had dreams interpreted by Daniel after which, Daniel was given power over the entire province of Babylon. One of his first requests to the King was to give his friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, appointments to oversee the affairs of the Province while Daniel sat at the gate of the King. This is when we come to the 3rd chapter where we see King Nebuchadnezzar, who is feeling pretty good about himself, as he has had a very large statue in his image built in in the province of Dura. In light of the building of this image, he calls all of the leaders of all of the provinces to declare that when they hear music coming from trumpets, flutes, harps, and all other types of instruments, all of the kingdom will bow down and worship this image. Well, when this happened, some of the leaders came back to the King to inform him that there were three Jews that did NOT bow down as was ordered by his Majesty. When Nebuchadnezzar hears that the three boys, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were the ones that did bow down he immediately summoned for them and asked them why they would not bow down to this image as they were ordered to do so. They simply told the king in verses 16 and 17,
16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter.
17 If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.
In other words, they said, “we really don’t have to answer to you about this but; since you asked we’ll tell you. You can go ahead and put us in this furnace of you want to, but please believe that the God we serve will not only bring us out of the furnace, He will also bring us out from under you…” Well, since Nebuchadnezzar didn’t believe them he decided to make examples of them and not only place them in a fiery furnace, he made it seven times hotter than normal. In fact it was so hot, that the guards charged with putting the boys in the furnace were consumed just being such close proximity. As Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego found themselves in the midst of the fire, the king could see that not only were the boy in the fire and not writhing in agony, he notice another figure standing with the boys in the fire. Once he realized that there was one more added to the party, he realized that something just wasn’t quite right. He called the boys and ordered them to come out and as they did, he realized that not one hair was singed on them and they looked like they did before they were put in. This is when King Nebuchadnezzar realized just who they God they server really was.
There are some points that I would like to share with you. The first thing is that, someone or something will always try to test your faith. When we look at the verse 5, we see Nebuchadnezzar testing the faith of the children of Israel:
5That at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up:
When you are on your Journey in this Christian life, be prepared to have your faith tested to the limit. How many times have you been approached by someone with something, trying to get you to see just faithful to God you really are? How many times have you seen that one thing that is so enticing that you have nearly lost your mind because you’re saying to yourself, “I’ve got to have it?” How many times has that image been put in front of you?” That promotion, that extra income, that piece of furniture, that spouse, that child, that seat on the pew, even the very building that you worship in can all be considered an image if it’s affecting your faith in God. Now, I don’t mean to suggest that you are not allowed to have nice things, because God will bless you according to His riches. I’m simply saying that beware of your test of faith. I say YOUR test because it is more certainly design specifically with you in mind. In other word there is a fire waiting for you!
Not only do we have to realize there is a fire waiting for you, always remember this one thing. The stronger your faith is, the hotter the fire will be. The Hebrew boys stood boldly when they told the King that it really doesn’t matter who you are, we serve the true and living God. So, you can do what you have to but trust, and believe, God is able to keep us from harm. I’m telling you that when you stand boldly to let folks know in whom you put your trust, they will turn up the heat when it comes to testing your faith. Nebuchadnezzar, wanted to see just how far they were going to take this thing because he really thought that they would eventually bow down like everybody else. Well that’s the whole point isn’t it? People already know you’re not like everybody else. People already know your walk is different, your talk is different, even your swagger has a little Holy Ghost party to it. The Book tells me that we are a peculiar people so, that means even you first accepted Christ, you were funny looking to everybody else. Those same folks you used to run with telling you, you’re funny looking. That woman or that man you used to deal with is telling you, you’re funny looking. And don’t get me started on family. They’re the first one to tell you you’re funny looking just because your faith is more important than their feelings. And just because of all of that they’re going to put you in that fire and that fire is going hotter than normal. But I want to say a quick word to those folks that are going around shoving people in the fire. Before you start shoving and before you start testing somebody’s faith, make sure you stop by verse 22:
22Therefore because the king’s commandment was urgent, and the furnace exceeding hot, the flames of the fire slew those men that took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
In other words when you are trying to throw people into the fire, keep in mind that you are coming close to the fire yourself and, if you aren’t careful you may find yourself burned up just as easily. What the king failed to realize is that God is always looking out for His children. So, the ones that were doing the shoving were the same ones that were getting the burning! I’m telling you again; beware of who you are shoving into the fire!
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, were all having their faith tested. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s faith was so large, that their fire was seven times hotter than it should have been. But when the power of God is working in your favor, there is nothing that will come harm you in anyway. This is because there is a difference between being IN the fire and being ON fire. In the fire means you your chances of being consumed are great. But when you’re on fire, you can go toe to toe with the flames. During the huge fires out west, one of the tactics that is used is to start a back fire. The purpose of the back fire is to check the advancing fire by clearing the area so; in essence they are fighting fire with fire. Well when you are in the fire, you are going to come out alright because, when you’re ON fire, whatever is around you will be cleared away so you can go THROUGH the fire. All this boils down to is that your faith has to be strong. This past week I had just gotten home from work and I ready to get myself cleaned so I could eat. Well as I was preparing myself I realized that there was no water in my house. I went in to the kitchen, no water. I checked everything that used water and, sure enough, there was no water in my house. I went to my neighbors, they had water. I went to the other neighbors, they had water. That’s when panic should have really started to set in but I knew this wasn’t the end. I called the property manager and explained to him what my situation was and he looked me dead in my face and said, “We’ll have somebody come out tomorrow.” Well you know I was hot. I was in the fire at that point. Thank God I was on fire though because all I had to do was remember Hebrews 11:1:
1Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
My faith was hoping that the property manager was going to take care of my situation. The evidence was the running water when I got home because it was taken care of during the day while I was at work. I had to exercise my faith in order to keep from going crazy up in there. If you go back to Hebrews 10:23, you’ll see what you have to do to get through the fire:
23 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)
Another word you can use is unswervingly. When you are getting prepared to make a long trip or even if you’re going to be traveling to and from work, you always want to make sure that you get a regular tune up. Even though you get the tune up, however, the ride in your car will not be as comfortable unless your wheels have been aligned. The purpose of the wheel alignment saves the tires from wearing sooner that they are designed to but the alignment also keeps your car from shimmying and also keeps your car from pulling to the left or to the right. When the wheels aren’t aligned, it makes it traveling down the road cumbersome as well as dangerous because if you let go of the steering wheel for any reason, your car will eventually run off the road. I’m telling you this to say that, you can sit in that same classroom and plant yourself in that same pew for Sunday school and Worship experience every Sunday the Lord sends. You can also come to prayer meeting and bible study every week. You can even get your tune-up by coming to revival once a year. But unless your faith is aligned properly, the road you’re travelling on will be rough and, if you’re not careful, you may find yourself on the side of the road. The Hebrew Boys had their faith aligned with God so that’s how they got through the fire…