How I love the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego! (Daniel 3:1-30)So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. 1 Peter 1:6-7
This furnace would have been a massive kiln used for smelting and refining metals such as copper, silver, lead and gold. It would have been made of brick and either been a circular dome or a tall chimney-like structure. Archaeological evidence shows they would have been heated with charcoal at temperatures between 1652-1832˚F or 900-1000˚C. The human body cannot withstand these temperatures.
Daniel 3:16-18 are verses which always make me pause.
If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up." Daniel 3:16-18. You see, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego are absolutely convinced that God is able to rescue them. There is no doubt in their minds at all yet they add that even if He doesn't, they're not going to worship anyone or anything except...God.
To me this is the ultimate act of faith. To recognize that God is mighty to save and yet understand that means He does it the way He chooses to do it... which is not necessarily the way we think He should do it. This is what it means to trust in God ... no matter what!
Nebuchadnezzar is not struck by lightening. Legions of angels don't come down and start to physically fight the Babylonians thus rescuing Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. They are not transported to some place of safety. No one says, "Take me instead". The furnace doesn't refuse to light. In fact, Nebuchadnezzar is so enraged by their response that he orders the furnace to be heated seven times hotter! You do the math. The heat became so intense that those who threw them into the furnace perished. They're thrown into the furnace....
In the midst of the furnace, something amazing takes place... they are no longer bound but set free and... it is revealed that they are not alone. There is a fourth man in the fire.
This always makes me cry because it causes me to remember it doesn't matter what happens to my physical body. It doesn't matter what sort of afflictions I encounter. God is with me in the midst of the fire.
Some people like to believe that as a Christians we will never suffer from hardship, disease, sorrow, etc. We will pray and "poof" it will always be gone. God is not a vending machine. To quote C.S. Lewis
He's not a tame lion. (The Last Battle)In other words, God does what He chooses to do, not what we think He should do and He does it His way.
God is with us even in the furnace...
Back in 1977, late Keith Green wrote a song called Trials Turn To Gold. May the words of this song touch you as they have touched me over the years.
He's brought me here, where things are clear And trials turn to gold He shared with me, His victory He won in days of old
Oh Lord, I don't deserve
The riches of your word
But You've changed my filthy rags
To linen white as snow
The view from here is nothing near
To what it is for You
I tried to see Your plan for me
But I only acted like I knew
Oh Lord forgive the times
I tried to read your mind
Cause you said if I'd be still
Then I would hear your voice
My Lord, my King, my urge to sing
And praise the things above
No words can say the glorious way
You changed me with your love
He's brought me low, so I could know
The way to reach the heights
To forsake my dreams, my self esteem
And give up all my rights
With each one that I lay down
A jewel's placed in my crown
Cause His love, the things above
Is all we'll ever need
He's brought me here, where things are clear
And trials turn to gold.
So true K! Many times God allows His faithful, loving children to be put through hardships that they would not otherwise (meaning: w/out Christ) be able to survive, just so He can mold them to be more faithful, more loving! He has to strip away our faults to mold us into who He wants us to be. Unfortunately, stripping away faults can hurt, it can cost much, and it may be in the form of much physical pain and suffering. Thankfully, those of us who hold on to Him in the process, come out much better in the end.
Thank you for such a Biblical and uplifting blog!
It has always astounded me that, as you say, nothing profound happened with the salvation of these 3 men other than they were protected and blessed by that 4th man in the fire with them. When they got out of the furnace they didn't even smell like smoke. Something incredible happened within that furnace that only that 4th man knows. It sure sounds to me just like so many of the great and awesome things that 4th man does for us, especially the new birth.
We may have more questions than answers at times and we may have more woes than miracles at other times, but the 4th man is always there with us and when the fire is out and we step into our new bodies there will not even be a hint of smoke. Our God is so cool, pardon the pun.