I have read Daniel 3 and heard the stories about Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego a hundred times before. And I always saw the extreme hard core faith of those three men. I saw how they stood up for what they believed in even if it would cost them their lives. I admired them.
But recently, my friend Kalie from So my Soul Longs sent me a beautiful hand lettered card that prompted me to go back to Daniel 3 and read it again. This time I saw it from a brand new perspective.
(skip this part if you already know the story)–Brief recap: The king has just ordered that everyone must bow down and worship the gold image he created every time they hear music. Whoever does not obey this order will be cast into a burning fiery furnace. Someone tattled and told the King that Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were not bowing down according to the kings orders. The King challenged them and says “And who is that God who can deliver you out of my hands?” (vs. 15). The three men replied that “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 your hand O King, but even if He does not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods nor worship the golden image you have set up”. So then..King turns up the furnace to 7 times the normal heat and throws them in there. (the people that put them in the furnace DIED because it was so hot). While in the furnace, the King witnessed four men in there and likened the fourth person to the Son of God. The King jumped up and yelled to them” Servants of the Most High God, come out! come here!” (vs 26). So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire and were in the exact same condition they were when they went in. Not a single burn on their bodies and in perfect health. The story ends with the King giving praise to God and announcing everyone who is against the god of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego should be crushed to nothing. BAM. You got that? okay good.
So as I read this four things stood out to me:
- God let them go in the fire– God is the God of all. He MADE fire. He could’ve put it out before they had to go in it. He could’ve created some detour or natural disaster to keep them from going into the furnace. But he DIDNT. He let his beloved children go into the fire. He let them go into what would appear to be immense suffering and a horrific death. I have asked myself a hundred times WHY God has allowed me to end up in places that I have..especially those not of my own doing… it seems counterproductive or not “loving” or “merciful”. But its true- there are times where He lets the fire burn with you at the center.
- Fire was 7 times as hot– Not only did God let them go into the fire…He let it be 7 times hotter– so hot that the people in charge of escorting the three men DIED because it was so hot. God let the situation get as bad as it possibly could. He let it get 7 times worse than it already was to begin with. I again have wondered…did it have to get THIS bad before you came in and saved the day? Does it have to look this dead? THIS broken? This AWFUL. But our God loves a redemption story. Would this story have had the same impact if it was just a regular fire not a SEVEN TIMES HOTTER FIRE?
- He didn’t get them OUT. –He didn’t pull them out of the fire or extinguish the flames. The king was the one who ended up saying “come out!” and they themselves walked out. He Let them be in there which seems… cruel at first. (me as I am reading: Lord- they were FAITHFUL TO YOU. Why you just gonna let them be in the fire?!. ) But what He did do while they were in the furnace was protect them in the midst of it. He went exactly to the place where they were most in danger and was WITH them there. He protected them in the midst of their TERRIBLE situation even though He did not provide an escape plan or an easy exit. He just…was there… protecting them, guarding them, being with them in the center of their actual HELL. Their worst nightmare- He met them there. I know there are times where everything seems to actually be FALLING APART yet somehow we can hold it together. When It should hurt worse, or we should’ve been injured or whatever it may be- But God was right there with us right smack in the middle of our “fire”.
- It was for His glory- It had so little to do with Shadrach, Meshach and Abendego. Yes- their faith is remarkable and something to be admired. But what I saw for the first time ever, was the change of heart that the King had. He was not a believer. But he got to see God first hand and see what He could do for His children BECAUSE of Shadrach Meshach and Abednego’s faith. Their entire trial, their suffering, their obedience and faith…led someone else to Christ. — Its not about us. I mean it is but it isn’t. You never know who is watching you fight through something with all you’ve got, who is wondering how you make it through or how that horrible situation turned out so good. It’s the people who need to see God work before they truly grasp who He is that God does these things for. So if your in the fire and you are wondering about points 1-3…trust in point 4. He is going to get his Glory and capture hearts through your very trial.
He may let us go into the fire, He may let it get as bad as it can possibly get, He may require that we stay there (and be protected by Him in the mean time) and He may not even be the one that gets us out… and it may all be so that one soul can find Him.
Trust God to protect you wherever you are no matter how bad it may seem and know that He always has a plan. He could be using you to save a soul.