I love the book of Daniel, and more specifically, the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Their story of perseverance and faith is one we should all ascribe to.
Let’s look at chapter 3. King Nebuchadnezzar has built a golden altar nine feet wide and ninety feet tall. Once it is completed there is a big ceremony for the grand opening. At the ceremony, we see this in verse 4:
4) “Then the herald loudly proclaimed, “Nations and peoples of every language, this is what you are commanded to do: 5) As soon as you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, you must fall down and worship the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. 6) Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.”
The King is pretty serious about his idol. As the story continues, eventually the astrologers visit the king and let him know that he has three Jewish guys on his staff that haven’t been, and aren’t going to be, bowing to his idol. They tell the king they don’t serve your gods or worship the image you have set up, and really don’t care.
You can imagine what this did to the king. He was furious. He called Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in for a little conversation. He asked them if this was true and this was there reply.
16) Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17) If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us. Or if the God we serve is able to deliver us, then He will deliver us from the blazing furnace and from Your Majesty’s hand. 18) But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”
I want to jump ahead a little in the story. The three brothers were ultimately taken to the furnace that the king had requested be made four times hotter than normal. So hot that the guards that took the three brothers to the furnace were burned up in the process. Once the brothers were in the furnace, the king saw something very different, didn’t he? He saw four figures in the furnace, not three.
What happened next is awesome! The king approached the furnace and asked the three brothers to come out of the furnace and approach him. When they came out, they weren’t singed at all. They didn’t even smell of smoke! The king was so amazed, that this was his response.
28) Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. 29) Therefore, I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way.”
Seems like a pretty harsh reaction, but the king had seen the power of God in action. Not only that, but he had seen the faith of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Let me ask you a question. Why did the fourth “person” show up in the furnace? Was it for the three brothers? I don’t believe it was primarily for them. They had already stated they were fine either way. God was either going to save them from the furnace or He wasn’t. Either way they weren’t going to serve the king or his idol.
I believe the fourth person in the furnace showed up for the king. We see the reaction the king had as a result of what he witnessed. Completely changed his perspective about the God of the three Jewish brothers.
So, when you are going through a “fire” in this life, remember, people are watching how you respond. People want to know if you actually believe what you preach. And when God shows up in the midst of your trial, yes, it is to walk with you through it, but it is also let others know that He is real and works in a very real way. God does not just show up for you, He shows up for others that are watching you navigate through this life. How are you responding? Are you responding with faith like the three brothers did, or are you responding out of your own strength? How you respond and live out your faith can allow God to work in such a way that will cause others to see Him in your trial. Live in such a way that points others to Christ regardless of our situation and circumstance.
I love you and am praying for you.