“If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty.” Daniel 3:17, NLT
We live in a fallen world that is infected by sin and evil. We are all living comfortably in hell on earth like frogs being cooked in a pot of water that is slowing heating up. Suffering is part and parcel of life and our best years are filled with pain and trouble when we live under the wrath of God, trying to hide our secret sins which are seen by God.1 There is no “life-changing magic” for the chaos of life. We live messy lives in a messy world because we are out of the will of God and living under the wrath of God with an awful, sinful fear of God:
“God’s anger is revealed from heaven against every ungodly and immoral thing people do as they try to suppress the truth by their immoral living……. They exchanged the glory of the immortal God for statues that looked like mortal humans, birds, animals and snakes. For this reason God allowed their lusts to control them.”2
Suffering is not the will of God – we have the wrong S.O.A.P. – Sin Oriented Attitudes and Practices. Lust, pride, and greed leads to sinful desires, ulterior motivations and hidden agendas. We are separated from the love of God by the love of self which leads to lust that is the root of much suffering. We will face temptations in good times and we are tested in bad times. A false sense of security lead us to fall into temptations in good times as we lean more and more on our own resources and trust God less and less. Bad times reveal our deep seated fears and test our faith.
The story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego draws our attention to the problem of idolatry and the importance of fearing God to face tests and temptations. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego did not forget that they were Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, the children of God. They were not inspired of Aku (Shadrach), belonging to Aku (Meshrach) or servant of Nego (Abednego). They refused to bow down and worship the gold statue that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. When King Nebuchadnezzar threatened to throw them into the blazing furnace and asked them what god will be able to rescue them from his power they replied:
“O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.”3
Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah together with Daniel, were first tempted with the food and wine of the royal palace of King Nebuchadnezzar when they were chosen for royal service. They were steadfast in their faith and refused the king’s food. It was their holy fear of the Lord that empowered them to face the tribulations and temptations in life. They did not fear King Nebuchadnezzar and firmly stood their ground not to worship the gold statue in obedience to the commandment, “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.”4 They chose the fear of God over the fear of the king. They were rewarded with the presence of Christ in the fiery furnace.
We will fear nothing – not suffering nor death – when we have the awesome and joyful fear of God through faith in the redeeming work of Christ on the cross. Jesus came to save us from the love of self, with the love of God, so that we can love others by the power of the Holy Spirit. It is God’s grace that empowers us to walk the path of love and holiness.5 We are empowered to obey God because we have been chosen by God and made holy by the Holy Spirit.6 It is only by grace that we can confront our Sin Oriented Attitudes and Practices (S.O.A.P.) by embracing Holiness Oriented Practices and Examination (H.O.P.E.).
The most important and simplest holiness oriented practice is waiting on God. Through the discipline of silence, we offer ourselves as a living and holy sacrifice.7 Being still in God’s presence and doing nothing is not a waste of time or effort – it is being the clay and letting God be our Potter to mold and remold our lives.8 It is recognizing that we are a mere human being and God has the right to show his anger and power to some and to be patient with others.9
It is impossible to be a living sacrifice without the grace of God – we will keep crawling off the altar! Like Abraham, we simply need to trust that God will provide.10 Like Isaac, we need the spirit of obedience to just simply lie still as the expression of our earnest intention to seek God with all our minds, our hearts, and our souls. Let us therefore offer ourselves as living sacrifices, that we may become living stones who are bonded together by the Holy Spirit into the family of God and to change the world by being the hands and feet of the Body of Christ.
“Come build an altar unto the Lord
Return to worship and hear His Word
And then the fires of revival will come sweeping through your soul
And we’ll touch the Holy Presence of our God”11
- Psalms 90:8-10, NLT
- Romans 1:18, 23-24, GW
- Daniel 3:16-18, NLT
- Exodus 20:4, ESV
- Jerry Miller, Grace Beyond Reason, xxi
- 1 Peter 1:2, NLT
- Romans 12:1, NLT
- Jeremiah 18:1-4, NLT
- Romans 9:20-24, NLT
- Genesis 22:1-14, NLT
- Fires of Revival, Wendell Smith