“Our God can deliver us — but even if he chooses not to, we will not bow!” (Daniel 3)
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were three Hebrew captives. They had been put into King Nebuchadnezzar’s service and were well known for their wisdom and quality work. But because the astrologers were jealous of these men’s position and standing, they convinced the king to erect a large golden statue. At an appointed time, the music would play and everyone in the kingdom would bow down and worship this image.
The astrologers knew that Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego would not bow to the image. It was their plan to entrap them and have them destroyed. Just as they had planned, when the signal was given to bow down to the statue, the three men refused to bow.
When the King heard the news of their refusal to bow he was furious and ordered them bound with ropes and thrown into the fiery furnace. Because of their intentional refusal to bow, the King ordered the furnace to be made seven times hotter than normal.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were is a crisis situation. I am sure they thought, we have been forced from our country, lost our homes and displaced from our families, and we have to eat all this Egyptian food. How much worse can it get?
Have you even been in a situation where you thought, “How much worse can it get?” Then to discover, yes, it can get worse? These times can be the most fertile time for spiritual growth. Growth during this time is usually reflected in three stages.
The first stage is Unbelief. How could this happen to me? Or, why me, what sin did I commit to deserve all of this? We have all been at this place before. Sometimes anger and grief is present at this stage. If we could just get our arms around why this is happening it might ease the pain. The three Hebrew men must have thought, “Lord, what more do you want from us?”
The key is not to stay in that position of unbelief, but to make a conscious decision to see God in the midst. That’s just what Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego did; they put their situation in God’s hands. They acknowledged that their problem was bigger than them and only God can change the situation and deliver them.
It’s the same with us. We must admit that God is in control. He wants us to turn our unbelief to belief. We must acknowledge that God’s ability to deliver us is greater than the devil’s ability to destroy us.
Testing Our Faith
That leads us to the second stage, Testing Our Faith. Is our faith real or is just an academic faith? Do we really believe God is in control and can move the king’s heart? This is the pivotal moment of our faith journey. “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)
The three Hebrew men’s faith was tested. They could either beg for their life using human reasoning, or they could put their lives in God’s hand and rest assured that whatever the outcome, God’s will has prevailed. Their response is evidence that they passed the test and their faith was real.
“(They) said to the king, “…we do not need to give you an answer concerning this. If it be so our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire: and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” (Daniel 3:17-18)
If you are familiar with the story you know that they were indeed delivered from the fiery furnace. As a result they entered into the third stage of a crisis, Deepened Faith. Their faith not only delivered them from the fiery furnace, but their miraculous deliverance shook the king and the rest of Egypt. However, the greatest benefit is that they were changed men. They were never the same, they were changed forever. Their faith was deepened by a direct encounter with God.
That’s what crises are all about, moving us from unbelief to a place where we can encounter and experience the power of God. As a result, we are changed, our faith is increased and our walk with God is deepened.
The world longs to see what God can do through men or women who will chose to trust God and live a life that is driven by simple faith.