Furnace of Affliction
"Bow down or burn," roared the ki ng of Babylon. King Nebuchadnezzar set up a huge golden image. The orchestra played."If you do not bow down," he said, "you will burn in the fiery furnace."
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego stood up. Others bowed down. Some men strove to the king. "O king, certain Jews did not worship your image." They named them.
The king flew into a rage. "Bring these men before me" .They did so.
"Do you not bow down to my image?"
"O king, we are not anxious about this matter. We will not bow down to your gods," they declared. "God can deliver us from the fire, but if not, we will not worship your gods."
"Heat the furnace seven times hotter,Ē the king thundered. "Cast them into the furnace,"
The kingís officers bound up these three men in their clothes and threw them into the furnace. Flames leaped out and consumed the kingís men. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego fell down into the fiery furnace.
His heart raced when he saw four men walking in the fireóGod's Son had joined them. The inferno burnt their bonds and set Godís servants free.
"Come forth, and come here," King Nebuchadnezzar called to them. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego stepped out of the fire. The fire did not burn their bodies, singe their hair, nor blacken their clothes. These three young men did not even smell like smoke.
King Nebuchadnezzar realized then that God had power over the fire and had delivered His servants.
"Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, who hath sent his angel, the king said, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king's word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God."
"Therefore I make a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill: because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort."
God had promised them, "When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee" (Isa. 43:2).
God established them in the faith through trials. He began with a firm foundation, the coming Messiah. He added to this building as He wanted these men conformed to His likeness. He strengthened and confirmed them. Only by His power could they stand against King Nebuchadnezzar.
Through trials the Redeemer settled them down and taught them to cast everything on Him. Like us, they experienced emotional ups and downs.
God has promised to go with us, too, through fiery trails. He said, "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy" (1 Pet. 4:12 13).
Many times, as God tried these men through afflictions, He has tried me. I nearly despaired after my fourth breakdown. God gave me a ministry that I loved.
After my husband departed to glory, I moved back home. Mom, at 97, had contacted pneumonia several times. She also suffered two medium strokes. She lost much sight from macular degeneration. I endeavored to help her while my daughter needed encouragement, too. She underwent depression. God used this and other things to strengthen me in my Christian life. Now Mom has gone on to glory.
Some become bitter and remorseful. We can choose instead to let God to do His perfect work in us. Then He will bless us and His peace will sweep over us as we trust in Him.
This article is based on Daniel 3. All Scriptures are taken from the King James Bible.
Rest Ministries printed a shorter version of this article online, © 2000, Lynn Wallace. Her book, Our Lifeship, tells more about living the Christian life. See her bio, information about her book and speaking at www.writingfrommyheart.com.
Ambassador-Emerald International published Lynnís book, Our Lifeship: Studies in Proverbs for Women. Periodicals published about eighty of her articles and fillers. Accent Publications published two of her curriculum packages. Leon, her late husband, and she served on the Navajo field several years. She plays the piano for Canyon View Baptist Church in Montrose, Colorado.
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