As we continue our series of God’s Big Plan we come across a small story in Daniel. Although this story might not have the biggest influence on God’s overall plan of salvation, it has a huge impact on our faith as Christians. The story I am referring to is a story of three men, a king, and a furnace. This is the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
This story takes place in Daniel the third chapter. Here’s a background. Everyone was worshiping Nebuchadnezzar King of Babylon and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to worship him. The king threatened but they still stood standing so the king took them and threw them in the furnace that was already hotter than it was supposed to be. It was so hot in fact that the soldiers who were near the furnace died because of the heat! The men were thrown in and everyone knew the fate without a doubt…death. However, as the king looked in, he saw the outlines of four men standing in the furnace. He orders them to come out, realizes that God had saved them and promotes them to a high position in Babylon.
There is one lesson I would like to draw out from one quote in this story. The lesson is this: God doesn’t always keep us from the fire but He will get us through it. A common misconception is that God won’t let anything bad happen to us and if something bad does happen to us, we have brought it upon ourselves. This is simply not the case.
Let’s look at a quote from our story. As Nebuchadnezzar was threatening the three men, they had a few words for him. In Daniel 3:16-18 holds their words. It says “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”” Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego knew that God had the power to save them, but they also knew that maybe God wouldn’t save them. The faith of these men is something we should all strive for. They knew the cost of not bowing down. They also knew the power of their God but they were not for sure on the outcome, whether they would survive or die. But they did know one thing, that whether they lived or died on earth, they would be with God eternally. That is what we should remember.
You may be asking yourself, “Well what if God didn’t save them from the furnace and they died, how is that deliverance? How is that getting them through it?” Well, it may be that God didn’t save them in that situation, but they still would have had eternal life and that is the true deliverance, that is the true victory. God doesn’t always keep us from the fire but He will get us through it, and even if he doesn’t, we still win if we remain faithful. Jesus told us we would have trials (John 16:33), so it should be no surprise when we do. But we have a hope unlike any other, the hope of eternal life (Titus 3:7). So many times we focus on this life being it, death is the end and it makes no sense why God wouldn’t save someone from death with that perspective. But if we have the perspective of this life being only the beginning, and eternity being our end goal, death no longer has a grip on us. In fact, with the perspective of eternal life, death becomes the boost to help us get to our end goal, eternal life, where there is no death.
It’s easy to read this story and be happy for the three men but then look at our lives and see how different they are. We may look back and ask, “well where was God then?”, “why didn’t God help me here?”, and it is very natural to do so. However, we have to realize that there will be trials, there will be struggles in this life, but they all happen to get us to our home in heaven where we long to be. The three men were dealing with a temptation and trial and an extreme case at that. They were thrown into the fire, God didn’t stop the action, he allowed it, and they were thrown in. In this case though, God allowed it so he could display his power, and that may be the same case in situations we face. No matter the why, we must remember that God is in control and we will get through it, even if we don’t win in this life, we win in eternity.