Whit’s End: the Fiery Furnace

This morning we talked about the faithfulness of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (Daniel 3.8-28).  They were faced with death as the king, Nebuchadnezzar, was enraged by their refusal to worship his gods and bow in honor of his golden statue.  The testimony of the 3 men is remarkable.  Faced with sudden and certain death, they told the king,

“O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to present a defense to you in this matter.  If our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire and out of your hand, O king, let him deliver us.  But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods and we will not worship the golden statue that you have set up.” 

Though they had been made royal officials in the kingdom, the allegiance of their faith belonged to the God of Israel.  There was no reason to argue, no reason to defend, but what was at stake was the pride of Nebuchadnezzar.  For the 3 men, God would be God whether they lived or they died.  Life was about more than the robes they wore, the positions they held, and the pride of a power-hungry king.  The men were in fact thrown into the fire, but the angel of the Lord appeared amidst the flames and there were called out by the king into the clear, unaffected by the fire.  God was there.

Jesus himself faced such a terrible trial.  The night that Jesus was betrayed, he prayed in the garden.  But his resolve was that God’s will would be done, not his own.  Jesus knew the pain and suffering that waited around the corner, and even so choose to stay on the side of God and his will, just as God would remain on his side, being in solidarity with him throughout the ordeal.

We were reminded this morning of Cassie Bernall, the teenager from Columbine high school who was shot for believing in God. There’s a book about her life entitled, “She said yes.”  Cassie was faced with the reality of death as her shooter told her to renounce her God.  She would not do it.  When posed the question of believing in God, “She Said Yes.”

Be encouraged today, that in the midst of fire your faith has the ability to make you faithful.  Be faithful, as God is faithful.  Say “yes” and remember: not my will, but yours be done, O, Lord.  Have a great week!!!

Rev. Whit R. Martin
Pastor, New Liberty United Methodist Church

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