Monday, November 29, 2010

Into the Fire: A Short Study

Thousands of years ago, there were four men from Judah named Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. (Daniel 1:6)

“…They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king’s service.” (Daniel 1:5)

During their training period, the chief official gave them new names. Daniel became Belteshazzar; Hananiah to Shadrach; Mishael to Meshach; and Azariah to Abednego. (Daniel 1:7)

At the end of that time, the chief official presented them to King Nebuchadnezzar. (Daniel 1:18)

The king spoke with the four men, and he found that they were far superior to other men. Therefore, they entered the king’s service. (Daniel 1:19)

Nebuchadnezzar appointed Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego administrators over the province of Babylon at Daniel's request. However, Daniel remained at the royal court. (Daniel 2:49)

Later, the king learned that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego did not pay attention to him when it came to serving other gods or worshiping the golden statue that he had set up. (Daniel 3:12)

Least to say, Nebuchadnezzar was very upset. The king summoned Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and had them brought before him. Nebuchadnezzar asked them if it was true that they did not serve his gods or worship the golden statue that he had set up. (Daniel 3:13-14)

He went on to say, "Now when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and all kinds of music, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?" (Daniel 3:15)

Has anyone ever challenged you on your belief in God?

Who challenged your belief?

How did you respond to the person?

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied to the king, "O 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 save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up." (Daniel 3:16-18)

If you were thrown into a hot fire, would you be as trusting of God?

Would you continue to serve God even if He did not rescue you from the fire?

Then Nebuchadnezzar was furious with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and his attitude toward them changed. He ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual and commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. So these men, wearing their robes, trousers, turbans and other clothes, were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace. The king's command was so urgent and the furnace so hot that the flames of the fire killed the soldiers who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and these three men, firmly tied, fell into the blazing furnace. (Daniel 19-23)

Have you ever felt like someone threw you into a blazing furnace?

Who was it?

What was the result of it?

Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, "Weren't there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?"

They replied, "Certainly, O king." (Daniel 3:24)

He said, "Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods." (Daniel 3:25)

Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, "Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!" (Daniel 3:26)

So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out of the fire, and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them. (Daniel 3:27)

Often, we too come out unscathed by the fire. However, sometimes, we may not feel like it while going through the actual test.

Then Nebuchadnezzar said, "Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king's command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. Therefore, I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way." (Daniel 3:28-29)

When we trust in the one and true God, we only experience a minor and temporary circumstance.  Our God also rescues us from the fire.

Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the province of Babylon. (Daniel 3:30)

It is only after we have gone through the fire that we are promoted to a higher level of trust and faith in our Father God.

We, as believers, often go through trials that we do not necessarily like or understand at the time. When we trust our Father and do not rely on our own understanding, He will direct us in His ways onto the right paths for us. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

It is during the fire that our Father God is refining us and making us more in the image of His son, Jesus Christ. The temporary circumstances are transforming us. As our Father says, these momentary light afflictions are nothing in comparison to the eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:17)

In addition, like the three men who went into the blazing furnace, we learn to trust and depend on our Father God and only Him during the fiery times!

Copyright 2010 by Dawn Freeman. All rights reserved.

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