Sunday, 26 April 2020

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."

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 a decree that at the sound of any kind of music people must bow down and worship, 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 three 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.

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.

This whole Earth is going through a fiery trial right now that starts with a fever and causes great harm if it enters our lungs.  Novel Coronavirus 19 is very deadly to some and to others its hardly noticed but it has affected us all in many different ways.

We are no longer free to move around at will, to play sport, to work or exercise in groups.  We are restricted to our homes by an invisible menace.  We are facing financial hardship as world economies contract.  Even oil that great power has zero value now.  Nobody needs it if they are sitting at home.

This was not foreseen, although God's prophets have been prophesying for some years of a great shaking coming on the world when God will use a huge calamity to separate the sheep from the goats, the faithful Jews from the Chaldean sorcerers, the wheat from the chaff.

This is happening everywhere.  People are seeing videos of staff singing gospel songs before food stores open, medical staff on the frontlines praying and singing praises in corridors, hundreds kneeling on sidewalks crying out to God and worshipping Him.  Hundreds of thousands of people have found peace with Jesus in these past few months since we were gripped by world pandemic.

Of course there are the chaff, the wolves in sheep's clothing, the goats and magicians who seek to steal and destroy the lives of the ultra poor.  They sell their cures and false medications to the naive and the frightened.  The people appointed to manage the distribution of food parcels to the starving have been caught delivering them to friends and families in affluent neighbourhoods.  Shameless and cruel.

Our God is assessing the ultimate future of the human race by this crisis.  Matthew 25 v 31 - 36: 
"31  When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:
32  And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:
33  And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
34  Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
35  For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
36  Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me."

These are the words of Jesus and He goes on to say that the opposite is true of those who neglected to help their fellow men.  And how they behaved would block them from Heaven.  But its not too late to change and become compassionate and caring.  Turn your eyes upon Jesus and repent and He will abundantly pardon. 

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.