With the entire state on fire, the last thing that Oregonians want to think about right now is more fire. That’s why, when I started reading Daniel 3, I felt a little weary already.
However, I’ve found that God often uses these times of weariness to teach us to rely more on Him, because we have too little power to rely on ourselves. So bear with me.
The Cliff’s Notes version of Daniel 3 is as follows: Long ago, a king named Nebuchadnezzar built an enormous golden statue and commanded his people to fall down and worship it every time they heard music. If anyone didn’t follow this new command, they would be punished by being thrown into a fiery furnace.
In this kingdom lived three friends of the great Biblical character Daniel: Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego. These three Jews were foreigners in the land, but had been appointed as government officials and served the king directly. However, they were loyal only to the One True God, and they chose not to follow the king’s new order.
As one would expect, the other officials noticed this and called them out for breaking the law. When the three Jews were brought before the King to explain themselves, they stood true and said that even if they must be thrown into the furnace, they would never bow before the golden statue.
Enraged, the King ordered the furnace to be heated seven times hotter than normal. While preparing the fire, some of his own soldiers died from the strength of the flames. Still, the three Jews were bound and thrown into the furnace, where everyone was sure they would be incinerated instantly.
This is a classic tale, so you may already know the ending. God’s miracle fell upon them, and the three Jews were completely unharmed by the fire - they didn’t even smell like smoke! The King, upon inspecting the furnace to ensure these rebels were now lumps of charcoal, saw not three but four people walking around in the flames: Shadrach, Meschach, Abednego, and an angel of the Lord.
Because of this incredible event, when the three Jews came out of the fire, King Nebuchadnezzar commanded that no one was allowed to speak out against the God of the Jews, because no other god could save like this.
What is it that makes this story so special, that it stands the test of time and continues to amaze us? It’s not the fact that God made Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego fireproof. It’s not even the fact that God used their faith to overturn an idolatrous edict. It’s the fact that they had faith in God even when everything went wrong.
When the whole world comes crashing down around us, a lot of times we tell each other to "just hold on" and have faith that everything will turn out all right. We cite Romans 8:28 and say that “all things work together for the good of those who love God.”
But when we apply this tiny snippet to worldly things, it often becomes a distortion of the truth.
We shouldn’t simply have faith that everything will shake out here on Earth. We must have faith in God Himself, whose plan works out all things - not that He will work out creation so that all things will be nice for us this side of glory. More often than we’d like to believe, things don’t work out for our ease and convenience. For these three Jews, literally everything went wrong - and they still chose to cling to God. This is a truly indescribable display of faith, and one that we should strive to emanate to the best of our abilities.
Remember that God’s plans are high above our own. Even if we do have to walk right into the fire, we should cling to the Lord of all things and remember that His will is more important than even this day that He has given us.
When our worst nightmares become reality, God reminds us that He is the One who is in control, so much more than we ourselves. We can and should still pray for a miracle, especially when we don’t have a light at the end of our tunnel, but we can rest assured that the Father of Lights has our souls in His right hand, and nothing can take us away from Him.
Sometimes, the miracle IS the fire.
“For I am persuaded that not even death or life,
Angels or rulers,
Things present or things to come, hostile powers,
Height or depth, or any other created thing
Will have the power to separate us
From the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!”
Worship & Media Director
Riviera Baptist Church