INSIDE THE FURNACE
A Cool Place to Be
Have you ever thought what it must have been like for Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to be faced with certain death and still stand for what they believe? I have. They knew that not bowing down to the golden statue was a death sentence, yet they chose to remain faithful to God. Daniel as well, after hearing the decree that made it illegal for him to pray to anyone but the king, he continued to pray every day. It was courageous to stand in the face of death and say, "I'm not afraid to die. I am more afraid to betray my God."
Now put yourself inside the furnace. The furnace was stoked to 7 times hotter than normal. It was so hot that it killed the men who threw these three into the furnace. Yet there they were, unharmed and walking around. It should have killed them instantly, but it couldn't touch them. Can you imagine being in there and being unafraid? Imagine Jesus appearing at that time inside the flames with these three courageous young men. What do you think he said to them? Just imagine. For me, I bet he was saying, "Hi Guys. A bit chilly in here isn't it?" Okay, well, perhaps not. But when you think about meeting God inside of a blazing fire and not feeling pain, or being consumed by the flames it had to have been the most incredible experience of their lives.
The same is true with Daniel. Thrown into a den of lions and the entrance sealed. There was no escape and the lions were hungry. Daniel said that God sent an angel who shut the mouths of the lions. Imagine Jesus being that angel. I can see him petting these greats beasts on the head and them purring like kittens. He wasn't about to let Daniel get harmed either. Daniel's faith and faithfulness was rewarded in a really big way, too.
In both situations the King of Kings got the glory. The king of Babylon was put in his place and in the case of Daniel, those who plotted against him suffered the boomerang effect, for which God is so famous. When God says "vengeance is mine I will repay," you might not want to mess around and find out.
My mind goes to more recent events. During the 1930s & 1940s many in Europe went through a horrible test of courage. They took a stand against a great evil that was killing innocent people because of their race. There are hundreds if not thousands of stories of people who were saved from death by others who took great personal risks. People like Corrie tenBoom and her family did what they knew God wanted them to do. They were eventually caught and imprisoned for taking a stand. Their story is amazing, and while only Corrie survived, there was glory still to give to the King of Kings. She spent the rest of her life telling others how great God is, not how horrible the Nazis were.
There are Christians around the world who have to take a stand every day. Christians are the most persecuted people of faith in the world. Many are imprisoned and many have died because they won't denounce Jesus. I think about this often these days because America is in a battle for our own religious freedom. There are many who would like to see Christians silenced in America. Last year, they tried to silence Christians by shutting down churches. While most complied, there were those who defied these unconstitutional mandates and stood strong in the face of the enemy. God blessed them because of it. This is only one battle, and there are more to come. I am sure of it. This is our time.
I believe that the reason Daniel and these other three were able to defy the orders given was because of their intimate personal relationship with their God. They spent every day purposefully talking to God. When you have that closeness, you know He is real. When you know God is real, you understand that He wields absolute power. He is the God of Creation. Fire can't touch you, because God is greater than the fire. Lions can't harm you, because God is the magnificent lion tamer. Imagine being so close to Jesus that you can say with confidence, "Do your worst world. God is on my side."
You may never face what Corrie tenBoom did. You may never be tossed to the lions. You might have to take a stand some day. Personally, I'd feel better taking a stand if I can Imagine Jesus standing right there next to me. The closer I get to him, the easier that becomes. I'm not afraid of what might be. The only thing I fear now, is not being in heaven with Jesus when this life is done. I don't want praise or riches, I just want peace. I want to look into the face of Jesus and see him smile at me and give me a high five. Imagine Jesus saying, "see, that wasn't so hard."
Every one of us faces an eternal future. This life ends, but the next never does. Why would we fear death in this life knowing that death has no power in the next? Fear God, because when all is said and done you spend eternity with Him or in an unquenchable fire, without Him. There is no other option.
The story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego can be found in Daniel Chapter 3.
Proverbs 19:23 "The fear of the Lord leads to life; then one rests content, untouched by trouble."
Isaiah 8:13 "The Lord Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear, he is the one you are to dread."
1Corinthians 15:55 "Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”