Growing up in a Christian family, and subsequently growing up in Church and Sunday school - I've always known the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego. But last week, whilst watching 'The Bible' (incredible TV series, currently playing on channel 9), I saw the story right in front of me. I then spent the next day reading it for myself and pondering it. In doing so, it occurred to me I had never ever actually read the story for myself. I cant believe that, because what an incredible story it is!
So basically, there's this king called Nebuchadnezzar. He thinks he's pretty great - and also has some strange dreams that need interpreting. One day he decides to build a massive gold statue, that is something all the people in his land must bow down to and worship.
Enter the scene between Nebuchadnezzar, and the three Israelites... See; Shad, Mes, and Abed (yes, I gave them nicknames. Deal with it), were solely committed to God. They were His people, and He was their God, so worshiping something else wasn't going to work for them. So Nebuchadnezzar tells them that if they don't bow down and worship his counterfeit god, they would be thrown into a fire to be burned alive.
Their response: 'Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to defend our actions in this matter. We are ready for the test. If you throw us into the blazing furnace, then the God we serve is able to rescue us from a furnace of blazing fire and release us from your power, your majesty. But even if He does not, o king, you can be sure that we still will not serve your gods and we will not worship the golden statue you erected.' (Daniel 3:16-18)
HOLD UP! This, people, is true faith. Because Faith isn't about serving a God Who performs tricks on demand. Faith is about trusting God enough to do what He asks, with no regard for our own lives, knowing He will work out His plan for us in the process.
These guys didn't value their lives so highly that they couldn't stand for Truth when needed.
So this is what I'm asking myself.
Do I value my own life more than God's Truth?
Will I do the right thing even if it means giving up everything?
Do I trust that God knows the number of my days, and can keep me alive through anything for as long as He wants me alive?
Will I stand for Truth, will I do the right thing, when everyone around me is bowing down?
The world we live in is not very black and white. In today's culture, most anything is accepted, and even welcomed. Standing for Truth is not popular, particularly because the Truth goes against the very nature of the things people are doing/ want to do. In some cases, I don't always know straightaway what the truth is. But I want to believe I'm willing to fight for it.
I'd like to believe that even if the consequence for truth is fire, I'll stand anyway.
I'm not always going to get it right. But if I can have even half the faith that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego had, I'm happy.
What about you, friends? Do you place too much value on your own life, and not enough on His Words? Do you struggle to trust that He knows the number of your days, and can keep you alive for all of them?
Just so you know, Shad, Mes, and Abed's story didn't end there. After refusing to bow down, they were thrown into the fire. But rather than being burned alive, an angel joined them in the fire, and protected them. The only thing burnt were the ropes binding their hands, so they could then walk freely out of the fire. In fact, Scripture says they walked out of the fire without even smelling like smoke.
The point though is not their rescue. Sometimes God will rescue us, and sometimes He will not. Sometimes God will heal us, and sometimes He'll allow our sickness to perpetuate for our good and His glory. But True Faith - trusts Him anyway. True Faith trusts that He knows what's best, and will only ever work for our good and His Glory.
I'm praying to have this kind of Faith, and be this kind of person. I'm not there yet... But God is working in me. And if you ask Him, He will work in you too on this matter.
In conclusion, I'll leave with the Voice bible's commentary on this story.
'Daniel's friends are men of conviction. They are ready for anything the king throws at them and know that God can release them from the kings angry grip.They just dont know if He will. That line -"but even if He does not - resonates with Faith. Everyone wants to follow a God who does miracles-on-demand. But Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego know the One True God does not always rescue His martyrs. Still they will not back down; they will not compromise. They will follow Him and not serve Nebuchadnezzar's gods.'