In the Furnace

A few days ago, I was driving home through the dark winding roads of the country, and some song came on about us being in the dark, and needing only Christ to comfort us.  I didn’t have anything to write down the name of the song, so I’m sorry that I can’t tell you about that more, but….another thought came through my mind as I listened.

The story of Shadrach, Meeshack & Abednego came to mind.  Three Godly men, probably late teens, trying to live & work amidst the palace, in one of the most powerful kingdoms yet to date.  It wasn’t a Godly place, and not an easy life for them, captured and put into servitude.  Their faith in God was tested multiple times, and they remained true to their God.

What struck me though, was specifically the story about the fiery furnace.  The king had made a statue, and ordered everyone to bow down to worship it when the music was proclaimed. Out of all the people in the palace yard & I suspect most of the kingdom (if not all) there were only three that did not bend their knees to the idol.  Yes, the three young men, stubborn in faith, refused to bow down.
When summoned to the king, he gave them one more chance which they refused, and boldly proclaimed that God would be with them and even if he DIDN’T save them, that they still would only worship the One true God.

Astonished & enraged, the king ordered the fire seven times hotter, and had them thrown into the furnace to extinguish this disobedience towards him.  What came next was more shocking than their disobedience…the king looked towards the fire (surely in his pride to see his power smite them) and to his wonder, he saw four men in the fire, rather than the three that were ordered to die, and they were walking around none the less, not dying.  He said that the fourth man looked like a “son of the gods”.  Apparently he was a curious fellow and wanted to see how these men didn’t die (and probably trying to figure out who the fourth man was).  They came out of the fire untouched. Their hair, skin, everything was just as it was before they had entered, and the miracle commanded awe from the king and everyone around.

What I thought about here, was that the three had to enter the fire, before it was clear to those outside that God was with them.  Their attitudes of boldness were clear that their trust was in God, but those who didn’t know God weren’t able to fully see it until they were thrown into the fire. Then and only then did the fourth “man” appear.  I wonder about this, as we who trust in God seem to be thrown into fires of our own, occasionally and sometimes daily.  We have faith, and know that we don’t need another trial to understands God’s strength again, but what if those trials we suffer are not for us but for those around us? What if we are thrown into the fire to show God’s strength and power to the doubtful eyes that look after us?

There’s no doubt that God’s power was with the three men before the fire, but it was only during that He was clearly seen.  Hm. Dwell on this with me today, as we wonder about the fires we are living and surviving in. Where is the God we trust in?  How is he using this fire to show others that He is real?  How can we be open to the flames that seem to engulf us but trust that they will not consume us?

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