A FIRE IN THE FURNACE–Daniel Chapter 3 [READ]:
When you read my opening remarks, you might think I’m questioning GOD’S POWER…but please bear with me as you read my thoughts and insight given from God’s Word. You don’t have to agree with me, but listen carefully for a softly spoken word from God’s Spirit regarding CONFIDENCE in the fiery trials.
How Does One Cope Before Entering The Fire?
I’m concerned we’ve heard so many messages about God’s…
– Miracle working power
– Healing power.
– Providing power.
– Delivering power.
Sometimes we just take for granted that GOD WILL…
– Heal every sickness.
– Meet every financial need.
– Open every prison door.
– Put back together every broken marriage.
– God doesn’t heal!
– God doesn’t come through with a miracle!
– God doesn’t repair a broken home!
– God doesn’t provide financial relief!
Some Unpopular Questions Must Be Asked:
WHAT WILL YOU DO IF THE ANSWER IS NO… OR NOT NOW?
WHAT WILL YOU DO IF GOD DOES NOT DELIVER?
WHAT WILL YOU DO IF GOD DOES NOT HEAL?
Sometimes we are so conditioned to the FACT that God will say YES, we don’t know how to react in our lives when He says NO!
If that has been your experience, make note to the FACT, and say…
I KNOW GOD CAN HEAL!
I KNOW GOD CAN PUT MY HOME BACK TOGETHER!
I KNOW GOD CAN PROVIDE MY FINANCIAL NEED!
BUT IF NOT…
I’LL STILL LOVE HIM!
I’LL STILL TRUST HIM!
I’LL STILL SERVE HIM!
WHAT I DO KNOW IS GOD CAN!
BUT, if He doesn’t, I’ll still SERVE HIM!
DANIEL CHAPTER 3…THE STORIES ARE VERY FAMILIAR:
You’ve probably heard this preached from the pulpit many times. The fourth man and the fact that He is still in the furnace, just waiting for US when are going through the fiery trials.
The courage of (3) men who gained the favor of God through separation. And the furnace designed to destroy, actually delivered them through it all.
BUT in my reading this past week, something in particular jumped off the pages of my Bible that I never noticed before. Does that happen to you too sometimes? You’ve read the same passage over hundreds of times, but this one time…Wow! It’s like a refreshing breeze blowing through your house on a hot sultry day.
“But if not…” (verse 18).
It’s a simple statement, one consisting of only (3) words, speaking volumes about the character of these young men. They said WE KNOW…
– GOD IS ABLE to deliver us in the fiery furnace.
– GOD IS ABLE to send angels from heaven to bear us up out of this crowd.
– GOD IS ABLE to kill each and every one of our persecutors if He so chose.
We know that the same GOD that opened up the depths of the Red Sea so our forefathers could walk through on dry ground can also keep us from a measly old furnace! We know that our God is able to deliver us, Oh king.
“BUT IF NOT”… WE STILL TRUST HIM!
The statement of GOD IS ABLE was made BEFORE they knew what the final outcome would be! For all they knew, they were writing their own death sentences and they would wake up in glory, praise God!
BUT, it’s as if the men were saying:
“Oh king, just in case we die in this furnace of fire and don’t get the chance to tell you again, let us make ourselves crystal clear: WE WILL NEVER BOW DOWN at a graven image. WE WILL NEVER SERVE your gods. WE WILL NEVER FORSAKE our experience! And, WE WILL NEVER TURN OUR BACKS ON GOD! We don’t know what’s going to happen in the next 5 minutes, but let’s just say right now, GOD IS ABLE, “But IF NOT, we will still worship Him!”
YOU OUGHT TO GIVE OUT A SHOUT RIGHT NOW!
– I DON’T KNOW WHAT TOMORROW HOLDS!
– I DON’T KNOW IF GOD’S GOING TO HEAL ME OR NOT!
– I DON’T KNOW IF GOD’S GOING TO MEET MY FINANCIAL NEED OR NOT!
Your question to me right now might be the same one I’ve asked myself during times of trials: “WHERE IS YOUR CONFIDENCE GONE?” And my answer to self is…
But, Satan, just in case I don’t get another chance to tell you this, let me say it one more time:
I KNOW GOD’S ABLE BUT
IF HE DOESN’T, I STILL WORSHIP HIM!
Scripture tells us that Satan is a LIAR, the father of lies. He wants to destroy your CONFIDENCE in Christ. So, if you are going through a “fiery trial” right now, the devil often wants to destroy your confidence. God IS able but… There’s where our confidence is revealed.
BUT…If You Die In The Furnace…?
That’s okay because I’ll just wake up shouting in glory! Let me tell you Satan one more time: “I will TRUST HIM NO MATTER WHAT TOMORROW BRINGS!”
THE DEDICATION OF JOB [The Book of Job]:
Job had to be the most confused man on the planet. The Bible says Job loved God and hated evil.
He was well-respected in the religious community and beyond. The greatest man in the entire east.
He was the poster boy of the godly life and a man who pastors would love to point to in counseling their congregation on the benefits of godly living and godly giving. Sounds great doesn’t it?
But, in a few days time everything changed without reason; without warning, without a change in Job’s lifestyle…the floor caved in. In fact, the entire house collapsed! But he didn’t curse God; he didn’t back-slide; Job was just doing what was right. He was still loving God and hating evil.
And then one day…MORE BAD NEWS!
– The Sabean s took his oxen–your trusted car got stolen!
– The Chaldean s took his camels–your wife’s car was stolen too!
– A tornado destroyed his home with his wife and his kids inside.
– His health failed–lost his Health Insurance to boot!
– His wife turned against him.
– His buddies tried to encourage asking what he’d done to deserve all of this.
Now Job would have loved to answer his well-meaning friends but he didn’t have a clue:
HE WAS FRUSTRATED…
HE WAS CONFUSED…
HE WAS ANGRY…
HE HAD EVERY OTHER EMOTION YOU COULD EXPECT…
But, in all of his trials, ONE THING NEVER CHANGED:
“In all this Job sinned not nor charged God foolishly” ~ Job 1:22.
AND IF THAT WASN’T ADMIRABLE ENOUGH… It really amazes me about Job’s experiences with God. One day as he was sitting, scraping his boils (and I had plenty of boils when I was 12-13 yrs old), searching his soul for answers, trying to figure it all out, He most likely was asking himself these questions:
1. What happened all of sudden?
2. Why it all happened?
3. How long would it go on for?
And then his friends dropped by to comfort him.
And the general topic of conversation…more question marks!
“Job, doesn’t it anger you when God won’t speak to you in the middle of this mess? Doesn’t it just get your goat when God won’t at least explain Himself to you? Don’t you ever get upset and question God?”
And this is what Job said to his friends seated in the circle…
Gentlemen, I won’t lie to you, I’d love to speak to God and ask Him, ‘Why me Lord’? I wish there was a go-between to put his hand on our shoulders and take counsel with God Almighty. But, I can’t do that because God is not a man as I am that we can discuss such things. But, you know boys, I’ve been sitting here in silence thinking and do you know what the only thing that could be worse than what’s already happened? That would be IF God:
– Personally stepped out of the heavens,
– Rode down here on His white horse,
– His flaming sword in His hand,
– And He looked me in the eye and …
– Drove that sword right through my heart!
And guys, just in case that does happen to me, in case I don’t wake up to see the sun rise in the morning–let me say right here, right now for the record: THOUGH HE SLAY ME, YET WILL I TRUST HIM! I know God can turn any situation around today bur if He doesn’t…I STILL TRUST HIM!
How is that for CONFIDENCE?
FAITH IN THE FACE OF FIRE!
I can remember when I was 7 yrs old, standing in the doorway and watching for my dad to come home from his job. He was a FIREMAN for the City of San Diego and mom and I were awaiting his entry after his working a 24 hr shift.
Often, when dad would come home, he would have been on an early morning brush fire in the surrounding canyons, not having the time to shower at work, coming straight home from the fire. He would smell of smoke so strongly, you would know ahead of time as he walked up the steps…dad had been on a brush fire. His hair smelled smokey, his uniform smelled smokey, even his skin gave off an aroma of “smoke.”
But this morning was very different from normal. An unrecognizable, uniformed fireman walked down the main walk to our apartment and mom knew, there had been an accident. He informed her that dad was severely burnt from a fuel tanker overturn on the highway. As several firemen were washing the gas off the roads surface, the gasoline was ignited by some friction and my dad, along with several others had been entrapped within a circle of fire. They had two choices: run through the flames before the tanker truck exploded or die while trying. By running through the fire they suffered second and third degree burns on their hands and faces. Dad was in the hospital but he would survive the fire along with the others involved.
“And the satraps, the deputies, the governors, and the king’s counselors gathered around together and saw these men–that the fire had no power upon their bodies, nor was the hair of their head singed; neither were their garments scorched or changed in color or condition, nor had even the smell of smoke clung to them” (Daniel 3:27 AMP).
When mom and I arrived at the hospital and the floor that the burnt firemen were being treated, we walked right by where dad was lying; he had to speak, “I’m over here!” His head and hands were completely bound with bandages, with eyes, nose and mouth openings. We never would have known he was in that bed if he had not spoken.
In Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego fiery experience, all the kings men knew that they had been freed through the fire.
Andrae Crouch wrote a song years ago that every member in the church would sing almost weekly. It was patterned after two verses in Psalm 18:48, 49:
I thank God for the mountains, And I thank Him for the
valleys, I thank Him for the storms He brought me through;
For if I’d never had a problem I wouldn’t know that
He could solve them, I’d never know what faith in God could do/
Through it all, Through it all, I’ve learned to trust in Jesus,
I’ve learned to trust in God; Through it all,
Through it all, I’ve learned to depend upon His Word.
CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT “THROUGH IT ALL” :
“Moreover [let us also be full of joy now!] let us exult and triumph in our troubles and rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that pressure and affliction and hardship produce patient and unswerving endurance. And endurance (fortitude) develops maturity of character (approved faith and tried integrity). And character [of this sort] produces [the habit of] joyful and confident hope of eternal salvation. Such hope never disappoints or deludes or shames us, for God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy spirit Who has been given to us” (Romans 5:3-5 AMP).
A New Source Of Fellowship Is Revealed:
MAKE A NOTE: THERE WAS A FOURTH PERSON IN THE FIRE!
“Behold, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they were not hurt!” (verse 25).
The identity is not certain: some say it was an angel while others say it was a Christophany (preincarnate appearance of Jesus). Which ever, it came with a suggestion of a closer communion and fellowship with God in the midst of the fiery furnace; the circumstance they found themselves in at the time.
So our trials can bring us closer to God and we have a new sense of freedom! The three men entered bound but were set free (Daniel 3:23-25).
They were presumed to have been destroyed which enabled them to be set free. Jesus Himself promised:
“He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the sanctuary of My God; he shall never be put out of it or go out of it, and i will write on him the name of My God…” (REVELATION 3:12).
“HE WHO OVERCOMES (IS VICTORIOUS), I WILL GRANT HIM TO SIT BESIDE ME ON MY THRONE, AS I MYSELF OVERCAME (WAS VICTORIOUS) AND SAT DOWN BESIDE MY FATHER ON HIS THRONE” (Revelation 3:21 AMP).
A NEW OPPORTUNITY REVEALED–Daniel 3:30:
“Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the province of Babylon.”
PROMOTION after RELATIONSHIP– Just as Joseph, who in his trials from slave to steward; from prisoner to Pharaoh’s second-hand man! So our FAITHFULNESS in trial leads to greater things [Matthew 25:21; Revelation 2:25-27].
And let’s not overlook the most important outcome: GLORY TO GOD! The praise rendered by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon in verse 28, 29. What kind of FAITH do we have? Is it like…,
A spare tire: used in case of an emergency?
A wheelbarrow, easily upset and must be pushed?
A bus, ridden only when it goes our way?
It becomes…TRUSTING in the Absence of Understanding. And I hope if you find yourself in the midst of a “fiery furnace”, the outcome will bring with it a new promotion.