This morning I sat down to my Bible with a heavy heart. I opened my Bible app to read,
“Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid: for the Lord Jehovah is
My strength and song.” (Isaiah 12:2)
I didn’t feel like singing. I felt like crying. And I didn’t feel very strong. I felt weak and helpless. I knew I could do nothing to change the pressing situation. We were doing what we could, what we knew to do, but it wasn’t enough. “How long Lord?” I asked. “How long can we hang on?”
I am so grateful that God has given me His gracious gift of eternal salvation, but this morning we need another kind of “salvation”, a deliverance, a rescue, an intervention. We need to see God do something only He can do to meet a pressing need. I want to continue to trust and not be afraid. And I know I can because He is a faithful Father.
In the book of Daniel the three Hebrew children as they are often referred to, faced a huge crisis that could cost them their very lives. (Read the account in Daniel 3.) Their commitment to King Nebuchadnezzar was called into question, but that was not the issue of greatest concern to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They were faced with a question of devotion and loyalty to the one True God. Up to that point they had been able to peacefully serve God, and faithfully fulfil their responsibilities to the king and the kingdom they were a part of. But that was no longer enough to some of the government officials. They wanted complete and total allegiance to their king and their gods at the expense of freedom to worship otherwise. The “three Hebrew Children” should never have been asked to make that choice, but they were. They were given an ultimatum: bow down and worship “our god our way”, or lose your lives. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego knew God was able to intervene. That was not questionable. And renouncing their devotion and worship to the only God that deserved it was not negotiable. So they responded to the ultimatum in this way:
“O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our
God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will
deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if He doesn’t (italics mine), be it known to you
O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have
set up.” Daniel 3:17-18
This was not about Nebuchadnezzar and his gods or statue, and whether or not they should be worshipped. This was not even about the three faithful God-followers and whether or not they would bend and give worship and allegiance to another god other than the One True God they served. Those are lessons in all of this for sure. This was about who God is. Nebuchadnezzar asks the million-dollar question earlier:
“But if you do not worship (the statue I have set up), you shall immediately be cast into
a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?”
(italics mine) Daniel 3:15
Who is this God??? Is there One able to deliver from the powerful king? Why is He to be trusted, worshipped, obeyed to the point of death? Nebuchadnezzar’s question was about the Creator God’s sovereign nature and work on behalf of His Person and His children. God was indeed able to deliver them from Nebuchadnezzar’s power. And He chose to intervene and rescue Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, keeping them from certain death in the flames. Not only did God keep them from burning alive, He was there with them in the furnace!! And Nebuchadnezzar recognized Him as the Son of God! God gave this awareness to Nebuchadnezzar allowing him to recognize the Sovereign God and honor Him for Who He was.
An amazing account... courage, commitment, crisis, undying devotion, determination, deliverance, faith. And in all honesty, I am humbled. My situation pales in comparison to this, and the many dire circumstances and situations and suffering and heartache and loss and persecution that many are facing. But that does not lessen the seriousness of my situation, or make it any less a concern of God’s. I am to “cast ALL my care on Him because He cares for me” (I Peter 5:7). I am His loved and valued child. What I face by way of life’s challenges does matter to him, great or small. And in many ways it feels right now as if the heat has been turned up! The pressure is on!
Needs can be great on a variety of levels. Where does that leave us? As children of God we know, like the Hebrew children, that God is able to intervene in a miraculous way no matter the need. His resources are limitless. He has made that clear in His Word. But God does not always choose to act in the way we most desire or expect. As His child, one who believes His Word and understands what He is certainly capable of, I have grappled with this from time to time as I face my own fiery furnaces, times when there are pressing needs and limited resources, limited abilities, times when there is absolutely no way to take away the hurt, fix the problem, provide the necessary finances, heal the sickness, fight the demons. What do I do then? What is the answer? Where is the help, the hope, the comfort?
God stepped in and answered Nebuchadnezzar’s question, “Who is that god that shall deliver you out of my hands?” Nebuchadnezzar was able to exclaim:
“Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel
and delivered his servants, who trusted in Him, and set aside the king’s command, and
yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God...for
there is no other god who is able to rescue in this way.”
This passage provides some answers. First, I go back to WHO GOD IS. He is Sovereign over this world He created; He is Sovereign over this soul He has saved; He is Sovereign over this life He has given. “There is no other god who is able to rescue in this way!” He is able. I know personally, am loved by, this great Sovereign God! And my part? Look at those words…”trusted, yielded up”. That’s my part. I am to trust and yield to His sovereignty, His authority, His control over the details of my life. He can be trusted. His work, His reason, may be greater than what we can understand at the moment. We may not be able to figure it all out this side of eternity, why He did what He did, does not do what we know He could, why He allowed certain sufferings into our lives. But His great love for us grounds us in Who He is and compels us to keep trusting, trusting in the fact He is God and He is able, regardless.
“He that spared not His own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” Romans 8:32
Until we come to the point in our faith-walk as “his devoted servants”, those He “spared not His own Son” for, that He is worthy of that kind of devotion and commitment; until we can trust Him in His Sovereignty, “yielding up” control and all the emotions of the moments--- fear, doubt, anger, “yield up” all the workings of our lives into His righteous, loving and just care; until then we won’t see His amazing ability to work on our behalf. And when He determines that someone needs to see just Who He really is, He’ll step in.
That’s just Who God is.
What fiery furnace are you facing today? What do you need to “yield up” to your loving, Sovereign Savior today? In what ways are you trying to maintain or manipulate control of your situation? Have your decisions been made out of faith and devotion to Christ regardless of the cost, or out of fear of the consequences and changes that may come because of that decision?