Therefore because the king's commandment was urgent, and the furnace exceeding hot, the flame of the fire slew those men that took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonied, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king. He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God. Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, ye servants of the most high God, come forth and come hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, came forth of the midst of the fire.
God brought this scene to me the other day. I've always viewed this story as a bit of a cliche, a bit played out, a bit overrated--not because I don't believe in the authority of the story or the God behind it, but because it's almost been beaten into our heads. On the other hand, I wouldn't say the story is any less significant just because it is told so often. It is most likely told so often because it is significant. Unfortunately, when we're told a story over and over and over again, it tends to hold the quality of fairytale in our minds. It becomes just another story. That is the way so many of us are, myself included. So I've always tended to just brush over this story when I come across it in the bible. I know it already. I know what happens. I know why it happens. In any case, God brought the above scene from this story to mind and shared with me a very significant aspect of the scene in the context of what I've been sharing in this blog.
I've shared a very sobering word that I believe God gave to me in an earlier post
on this blog. When God brought me to the scene of the fiery furnace the other day, he also directed me to that word he gave a year and a half ago. What began as an empty picture frame has become something more like swiss cheese and he has been gradually filling in those holes. I'm not going to share that word again in full since I've linked to the full text of it, but I will summarize the aspects that are pertinent to the scene of the fiery furnace. I believe that God told me that he will strike his own people with fire for our idolatry. He said that we would cry to him but use our own powers in an attempt to deliver ourselves from that fire. We will continue in our idolatry, blind to what the reality behind the fire really is. But he also said that there would be some--those who are loyal to him--that will not be touched by the fire.
When God brought me to the scene of the fiery furnace and tied it into the word he gave me, I felt like slapping myself in the forehead. I hadn't read that passage in yonks and it came to me out of nowhere, but it was so obvious. I'd read it since receiving the word a year and a half ago, but I'd missed the correlation.
This correlation is highly relevant here in America. God's people see the fiery furnace. We see it looming. We're crying to God for our deliverance from it. We're crying to God for him to restore America to a point of righteousness. But what if he doesn't restore America to a point of righteousness? What if he is angry when he sees his people crying to him but turning to political policies for national salvation? What if he is angry when he sees his people crying to him but turning to economic policies for national salvation? What if he is angry when he sees his people crying to him but depending on themselves or their own creations for national salvation? If that is indeed what we're doing, he will allow our idols to fail us.
In America, so many of God's people tend to see the furnace in front of us. We know it is there. We know it's close on the horizon. We're desparately trying to avert it. If only we could implement fiscal policies that would encouragement investment into our economy... If only we could we could enforce our vision of the "sanctity of marriage"... If only we could force abortion into the back alleys so we don't have to see it or know it's happening anymore... If only we could rid the world of politically-motivated Islamists... Of course, small victories can be won in such ways, but the fullness of God's victory is absent.
In the midst of the fiery furnace, and even as they were being led there, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were not moved by the disaster that awaited them. They knew who their savior was. They knew who their protector was. Their knew who their deliverer was. They didn't try to save themselves. They allowed themselves to be thrown into that fiery furnace. In maintaining their hold on the rock who was their God, they were saved, they were protected, they were delivered. Their eyes weren't on the fire. Their eyes were on the fourth man, the Son of God. In the process, Nebuchadnezzar saw who the one true God really is.
I've always been interested in politics. From high school up to my marriage in my younger 20s, I was a liberal socialist. When I was married, I was starting to find an interest in communist and anarchist theory because I was so disgruntled with the right wing politics I had had dragged into. After my divorce, I watched C-Span religiously. I saw World War Three in every news article I read. In 2008, I saw hope in Barack Obama. On the night he won the election, I saw his speech and tears actually came to my eyes. I thought I missed an epic opportunity in my decision to avoid voting once again. (I've never voted, and it's always been a conscious decision.) The next morning, when I woke up, I realized he talked a talk that he could never follow through on. He's no messiah. From that point, I dug deeper and deeper into anarchist history and theory because I knew inside that politics and economics offer nothing of genuine value to us. I was seeking for a true answer. I'd been a Christian. I was saved in 2001. But what I saw around me was political and economic nonsense. I ended up questioning the reality of the living Christ because of what I saw in Christians. I didn't see any Shadrachs, Meshachs, or Abednegos. I saw people who were so easily blown off balance by every wind of the world. I turned away to seek something that I hoped would be more real. When God got ahold of me again in 2011, he didn't waste much time. He gave me encounters with him to stand on. And I believe he gave me what I was seeking--something infinitely better than anything this world or we ourselves could ever offer. I've come to a point at which I still pay attention to politics, but I'm able to stand on the outside now. I'm not moved by any it. I have no fear of how bad it may get in America. It's not my home. It's where I happen to be at this time, but it's not my home. I'm not a dual citizen. That downgrades citizenship in God's Kingdom. My citizenship is with the Kingdom, not with America. I know that, come what may, God is with me. If I keep that in mind and believe that and live that, others will see that God is with me. The disaster can't touch me. The fire can't touch me.
How do the Nebuchadnezzars of our day see us? Do they see us being blown off balance by every wind of the world just as they are? Or do they see us walking in peace, come what may, because there truly is another with us, the Son of God? With the disaster that I believe is coming to America--and is already in process--we have to find our solid grounding in God or we're going to fall with the rest of the world. We don't need an economic system. We need God. We don't need a political system. We need God. We don't need militaries to protect us. We need God. We don't need enforced righteousness. We need God.
In the coming disaster, in the coming fiery furnace, we can either turn to our ourselves and the world and be burned alive or we can walk with Jesus Christ, the Son of God, turning to and trusting in him, remaining untouched. We need to be the Church purified and set apart for a world in the midst of disaster. If we're shaken as much as them, they will not see God in us. We need to get prepared now.
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