And the king said to Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego, “If you do not worship the idol I have made, you will be cast into the midst of the furnace of blazing fire; and what god is there who can deliver you out of my hands?”
In the prophecy of Daniel, in the third chapter, is one of the most radical narratives in all the Bible. These three men of God had refused to bow down to the king’s idol and now they faced the terrifying consequences. To obey the Most High God, the one true God, the God of Israel, and to defy the idols and the gods of this world will often result in an experience of the fiery furnace. Now with the awful cost of their boldness staring them in the face in the furnace of blazing fire, the question is how the children of God will respond. Will they compromise or will they stand firm?
Boldly they say, “We do not need to give you an answer in this matter, O king. Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire and He will deliver us, O king. But even if He did not choose to deliver us, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to bow down to your idol.” The men literally risk their lives and put all their trust in the Most High God, believing that the LORD will be faithful to deliver them from the furnace. (By the way, to trust in this manner is the normal response of the Christian to this kind of persecution.)
When these believers are then thrown into the furnace of blazing fire, the pagan king is amazed to see the three Hebrews not consumed by the flames, but rather loosed in the furnace and joined in the fire by a fourth man whose appearance is like the son of the gods. Of course, this is the pre-incarnate Christ, the Son of God who delivers them unharmed out of the fire.
And so it is for all believers. To be a believer and a true follower of Jesus means that you will experience the Lord in the midst of the furnace of blazing fire. The believer will be in the flames and there in the midst of the fire, the Lord Jesus will join him and will deliver him. In this light, I want to consider three furnaces from which the believer is delivered: the furnace of testing; the furnace of persecution; and the furnace of eternal condemnation. And we begin with the furnace of trials and testing.
SDG rmb 12/23/2015