Throughout history, conquering countries have said, “worship what you want, as long as you also worship our gods.” The Romans required that. Five hundred years earlier, the Babylonians insisted the same of the Israelites. Daniel Chapter 3 is a prime example of that.
Daniel and his friends are about thirty-five years old when King Nebuchadnezzar returns from conquests that include sacking Jerusalem. Full of pride, he commissions a ninety-foot statue of himself. Its strategic location six miles southeast of Babylon on the plain of Dura ensures everyone can see the statue from more than twelve miles away.
Nebuchadnezzar issues a decree for everyone to bow down on cue to the statue. Obeisance would ensure political and spiritual solidarity with the king. Everybody bows except Daniel’s friends. Nebuchadnezzar is beyond furious. He orders Daniel’s friends to be thrown into an overheated furnace. Incredibly, the flames consume only the cords that bind them. The friends emerge unscathed. Their clothes don’t even smell of smoke. And the king sees a fourth person [Christ] with them in the flames. How can we relate to such an extraordinary story?
When you’re under fire, Satan pressures you to focus on the flames and question God’s goodness.
Staring at the flames makes your problem seem bigger and more unmanageable. It also prevents you from allowing God into your crisis. The enemy doesn’t want you to shift your focus to God—because then you’ll learn anew how faithful and loving He is. Don’t let the fire compromise your spirit. Remember: God alone controls the heat’s timing and temperature.
You give your strongest testimony in the hottest flames.
Fire separates what’s invaluable from what’s expendable (Proverbs 17:3). When people see your response to the heat, they’ll wonder where your strength comes from—and you’ll have a God-ordained opportunity to tell them.
Strength comes from total dependence on God.
Willpower is a finite resource, but God’s power is our infinite source of strength. The verbal declaration of faith that Daniel’s friends made must have strengthened every Hebrew who heard their words.
Faith may be forged in the fires of life, but it’s formed before that in countless quiet times with God.
What were Daniel’s friends thinking as they were bound and tossed into the furnace? I’m guessing this:
“The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged” (Deuteronomy 31:8 BSB).
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine! When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you go through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior (Isaiah 43:1-3 BSB).
Daniel’s friends could face the fire without fear because they had God’s Word in their hearts and believed every syllable of it.
God brings you through trials, not around them.
“Going with God regardless” sounds good until it means putting yourself in jeopardy. But think about Isaiah’s words, written seven hundred years before Jesus was born: “I am the Lord your God … your Savior.” The capital “S” is intentional—because a few verses later, Isaiah writes, “I am the Lord, and apart from Me there is no savior” (Isaiah 43:11). No one else can deliver you.
Be faithful, not fearful.
You may think God deals only with ethereal matters like guilt, forgiveness, and heaven. That can lead to false thinking and fear: what if God can’t or won’t help me? God created all things, so you can trust Him in all things.
God’s deliverance is complete and life-changing.
God may allow affliction, but He never wastes it. Nebuchadnezzar acknowledged “no other god can deliver this way.” He commended Daniel’s friends for violating his command and risking their lives to serve their God alone. The king blessed God, doled out dire consequences to anyone who spoke against Him, and promoted the three men (Daniel 3:28-30).
Your testimony under fire is an act of worship.
Worship is declaring God’s worthiness and your willingness to give Him your all—your time, talents, treasure, life.
Daniel Chapter 3 tells us to live intentionally in a compromising culture that’s shifting away from God. God’s truth is our Swiss Army knife; His Word is our sword; our faith in Him is our shield. Amen!
This is the second installment in a series about Daniel.
Read the first one here.
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SIDE NOTE: Where was Daniel during the fiery furnace fiasco? Likely on king’s business elsewhere. The end of Daniel Chapter 2 says the king made Daniel ruler over all of the Babylon province (think modern-day Iraq). The Talmud says he was out of the country.