We often hear the emphasis to walk by faith in messages from God's Word or in Bible studies. In fact we may have heard it so long in the context of a safe environment surrounded by believing friends and encouraging music that we have forgotten that walking implies action in everyday life that is tied to our spiritual conviction.
No matter how many times we hear about faith or talk about faith, we will never realize the cost of faith until we are practicing it in the trenches of life. It is there that we discover there is more than knowing the right answers or singing in the right key if we are going to live a life that is pleasing to the Lord. For without faith it is impossible to please Him.
I'm not sure what made three young Hebrew men in Daniel 3 risk everything for the sake of taking a stand against the king who had taken them into slavery. We're not told much of anything at all about their lives in Judah. We learn that they were selected by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, from among the best of Judah in order to educate them in the ways of the Chaldeans. We also know their names were Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Because those names were too hard for Babylonian lips to say (my supposition), their names were changed to something much easier and they became Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
Early on in their captivity in Babylon we are finding that these three along with Daniel were already making some decisions according to their faith and proving themselves faithful by refusing to eat the diet that the king had ordered. A time of testing ensues and through a course of events the king finds this Hebrew team excels far above the others in the kings court. Nebuchadnezzar, who likes to make comparison by multiplying (also in chapter 3), noted these guys were ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters that were in all his kingdom.
So it seems that everything is going pretty well for these men, even in captivity. Then comes Daniel chapter 3. In this chapter we notice a few ways that these three exercise their faith at all costs. Living in the kingdom generally requires you live by the king's standards. When he says sit you sit. When he declares a holiday you're off work. When the kings builds a statue and commands you bow down and worship it, then you . . . wait, WHAT?? For Shad, Mesh, and Abed, this is in direct conflict with Commandment #1 which states, "You shall have no other gods before me." This could not happen for these men. They were not even going to have to think about it. Why?
#1 They had a foundation they would die on
These Hebrew slaves did not act because they were rebels wanting to cause problems for this king that had enslaved them. Their lives were lived by faith that was founded on their trust in the God of heaven and earth. That He was supreme and only He deserved worship above all others was part of their DNA.
#2 They experienced a challenge from which they would not back down
You can talk about your faith all day long but until it's challenged, how do you know you have any? There was a choice that had to be made: Bow to the king's idol or remain standing. Their faith was challenged.
#3 They were exposed by those who hated them
Quite often when a believer will not compromise faith, enemies will come crawling out of the woodwork like ants to a picnic. Their stand for what was right was noticed by those who opposed them (Probably several of those guys King Nebuchadnezzar said they were ten times better than). The enemy loves to step forward to cause trouble when God's people stand up.
#4 They would face death rather than change their position
King Nebuchadnezzar is notified of the disobedience of these boys. He decides to play Bob Barker and says, "Let's make a deal." We'll give you guys another chance to bow to my idol. If you don't then it's the furnace for you three. Without hesitation the young men state their allegiance to the God of Israel and that whether God delivered them or not that they would not bow. So into the furnace (made seven times hotter by an angry Nebuchadnezzar) they went. Those who hauled them up to throw them in were burnt up immediately.
#5 They would experience victory because of their trust
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are now in that blazing furnace in the presence of what many believe is the preincarnate Christ. King Nebuchadnezzar is witness to a fourth individual who has the appearance of one who is like a son of the gods. When they exit the furnace it's found they are not scorched, singed, or even have the faintest smell of smoke on them.
#6 They would bring glory to their God
Probably the greatest part of these young men remaining firm in their faith is that God received glory for his power and work in delivering them from the fire. King Nebuchadnezzar himself made a decree recognizing that God was a rescuer of this Hebrew team.
So you don't expect to face any furnaces today, right? You may be thinking that in the day we live in and the flow of your everyday life that you will never have to make the choice of whether you bow to an idol or stand firm in your faith. You are probably right. But there are going to be times in your workplace, neighborhood, or among friends that your faith will be challenged. It is in those times you need to feel the heat and learn to respond as three young Hebrew men long ago.
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