Jump Start # 2647
Daniel 3:17 “If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king.”
In our Sunday video studies, I am teaching the book of Daniel. Our verse comes from a recent study. Nebuchadnezzar built a mighty statue of gold, likely a statement from his dream of chapter two. In that dream, the statue was of many different materials, representing coming kingdoms and nations. The head in that dreamy statue was gold, Babylon. But it wouldn’t remain. Other kingdoms would replace Babylon. In the real statue that was built, chapter three, the entire statue is gold, likely meaning that Babylon will always rule. Babylon’s perpetual future is guaranteed. There would be no other coming kingdoms. So, the powerful, violent and misguided king thought. His rule was through fear. Whoever did not do what he wanted, was executed.
This was more than a statue in the city park. This was an idol intended to be worshipped. Whoever did not worship was to be put to death. Zero tolerance here. The Jewish three, refused to bow. Rather than being executed immediately, which the king declared, they were brought before him. He gave them a second chance. Nebuchadnezzar boldly proclaimed, “What god is there that can deliver you out of my hands?” He positioned himself even above the gods. Greater and more powerful than anyone is what vain Nebuchadnezzar thought.
Our verse is the reply from the Jewish trio. Our God. The God we serve. Not your gods, but our God, He is able to deliver us. He is able to deliver us from the furnace of fire and He is able to deliver us from you. Our God is greater than your fire and our God is greater than you. Those words smoked Nebuchadnezzar and sent him into a rage. The furnace was heated up even more. Into the fire the three went and in a moment the three came out. They came out without any evidence of even being in a fire. No singed hair. No burnt clothes. No smell of smoke. God delivered. God triumphed.
A few lessons here:
First, all the Jewish trio had to go on was faith. It is very unlikely that they had ever witnessed a miracle before and even if they had, the miracles are being done by prophets. They were not prophets. How did they know God could deliver? He saved Israel from a Red Sea and an angry Egyptian army. He saved Gideon when out numbered in a battle. He saved David from a bear, a giant and an crazed King Saul. God has delivered. And, now, how do you know God will help you? It is by faith. It is based upon His word, His promises and your faith.
Second, God did not keep them out of the fire. In fact, from the text it looks like God did not stop the fire. Unlike Daniel, where God shut the mouths of the lions, these three were protected from the fire, but the fire raged on. That’s a lesson for us. We want God to put the fire out. We don’t want ugly consequences that follows our convictions and our faith. We want everyone to like us, tolerate us and let us be. But in fact, there may be fiery trials as Peter put it. And, going into a fire does not mean that God has abandoned us or ignored us. The three in Daniel did what they should have. They were respectful to the king. They didn’t trash talk him. They didn’t stir up the crowd and cause a big commotion. They didn’t rush the king and try to take him out. They put their trusts in God. Let God handle it. Let God deliver us. Because of your faith, you might lose a job, be defriended on Facebook or in person, not be included to family events. That may be your fire you go through. Convictions come with consequences, especially from those who do not accept your stance. Compromise always looms in our minds as a way to escape the trouble and have some conviction left. But for this Jewish trio, compromise doesn’t enter the picture. They weren’t bowing and tying their shoes. They didn’t bow and pray to God. They stood. They were noticed. They were reported. They had to answer for what they did. They had to encounter the consequences.
Third, they had no assurance that God would spare their lives. After our verse today, comes, “But even if He does not…” The “He” is God. The “does not” is deliver us. Even if God does not deliver us, that means they would die. Even if God allows us to die, we will not bow down. Faced with saving their own skin or holding on to what they believe, they’d sacrifice their lives. Putting these things in order, their faith and conviction came before saving their lives. Facing a fire is not near as bad as facing a God whom you let down, denied and disappointed. Bring on the fire, is what they would have said.
I wonder, in these days, which is greater, our faith in God or Covid-19? Has the fear of a sickness caused some to walk away from God? Has faith grown these past few months or has it dried up and died? Fire or faith? Save your life or stand with God? It was easy for these Jewish three. No question. No discussion.
Finally, conviction is often not what others have. It’s easier to just lean the direction the wind is blowing. Not believing in anything in particular may make you get along with others but it is not the fiber which forms faith nor does it impress God. The conviction of these three is sprinkled throughout the Scriptures. The parents of Moses were not afraid of Pharaoh’s edict. Peter was not moved when he was ordered to stop preaching Jesus. Conviction stands upon principle and when that principle is right and founded in God, it cannot be swayed. Families have started congregations in their homes when the leadership and preaching where they once attended left God. Steadfast and unmovable is what the Corinthians were told. Stand firm is what the Ephesians were told. In our times of so many voices and so many opinions and so much social information and misinformation, it’s time to get to that Bible and stand upon something that is real and lasting. Storms come and go, but God’s word remains. Nebuchadnezzar’s statue of gold is gone. However, the divine dream he had about that rock becoming a mountain, that became true. Today, we are part of that everlasting kingdom of God. Powerful. Large. Enduring. Divine.
Stand up, stand up for Jesus. That song is not about our posture in church. It’s about our conviction and our heart in this world. All in for Jesus, that’s where we need to be. Willing to give all, give up all, including our lives, if necessary.
Hard to imagine what we’d say to this Jewish trio when we run into them in Heaven. The only words that come to my mind are, “Thank you. What you did, helped me.”