Friday, 1 March 2019

Fiery Trials

Scriptures: Daniel 3 v 29:  "Therefore I make a decree that any people, nation or language which speaks anything amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made an ash heap; because there is no other God who can deliver like this."  Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon.

The esteemed prophet, Daniel, is among those Hebrews who was captured by the Babylonians, along with his friends, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. In this chapter the King of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, made a giant image of gold and commanded through his decree that at the sound of any kind of music people must bow down and worship this idol, and whoever refused was to be cast into a fiery furnace and killed.

The Chaldeans, the Babylonian priesthood, who were wizards, witches, sorcerers and astrologers denounced the Jews who refused to bow down to a false god. They pointed to Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego saying these men refused to worship your golden image and must be thrown into the furnace.

King Nebuchadnezzar was enraged and asked the 3 Jews if it was true. He said the music would sound and they must worship or burn.

The three Jews answered the King saying that the God they serve is able to rescue them from his furnace, but even if He chooses not to, we refuse to bow down to this idol. The King was furiously enraged at this defiance and ordered the furnace to be made 7 times hotter and the 3 rebel Jews bound and thrown into it. Those who threw them in were killed by the blast of heat.

Verse 24 says Then the King was astonished and rose up hastily and asked his counsellors - Did we not cast three bound men into the fire? They answered that this was true. King Nebuchadnezzar then said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God!

Astonishing indeed. And when Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the furnace not one hair on their heads was singed and not even the smell of smoke on their garments. Nebuchadnezzar hailed them as servants of the most high God who refused to compromise or submit to idolatry preferring death rather than sin. So the three Hebrews were promoted and their God exalted.

In these days the division between the righteous and the corrupt grows ever wider and the days will come when Satan will test our commitment. How will you respond if this happens to you? Will you trust Jesus to show up in the midst of fire and deliver you out of the enemy's hands even causing people to witness a miracle and become believers?

Jesus Christ created this planet, this universe and every one of us. If we exalt Him by our steadfast faith and refuse to bow to enemy pressure, He will always cause us to triumph!  He has a way of setting a scenario to attract the attention of sinners. You may be the next person He is preparing to use like this.

I remember the testimony of the late Richard Wurmbrand, the pastor from Russia during Communist rule, who was imprisoned in Siberia for his faith. He was travelling through India when he found a large group running through fiery burning coals to honour their god, Krishna. They mocked Richard because his God would not help him run through the coals.

Faith welled up within Richard and he removed his shoes and socks, rolled up his trouser legs to the knees and stood in the midst of those coals for 45 minutes preaching the gospel. All those followers of Krishna who witnessed this got saved and believed in Jesus. Are you willing to win souls through mighty faith in Jesus?  

An interesting aspect to be aware of is the link between music and idolatry.  The archangel Lucifer, who became Satan, was created a musical being who was responsible for praise and worship in Heaven.  When he fell, all music fell with him, and is still used to inspire idolatry.  It brings us into fiery trials. As John wrote, Little children, keep yourselves from idols.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father how great are your dealings with stubborn, idolatrous people who force Your people to bow and  then You turn the tables on them. Thank You for being faithful to us all. Give us boldness and courage to not blink first. In Jesus' name. Amen.