Tested by fire

The book of Daniel has several great narratives about how those who were honest about dependence conducted themselves in a foreign land with many antagonists lurking about. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were companions of Daniel and enlisted in the service of the king of Babylon (Daniel 3:1-30). Those three men were blessed by God with ability to serve in the government; they served as faithful stewards and ambassadors and their service was duly noted. Those who were jealous of these three men played on the king’s vanity, exciting him to make an image to which he would require everyone to bow down and worship. When the three men refused, the king went into a rage and commanded that a furnace be heated seven times hotter than normal for them to be thrown into. The furnace was so hot that its heat killed the mighty men who threw Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in. But when the king looked into the furnace there were four men and the fourth was like the Son of God.  No harm came to the three men because the Lord had been and remained with them. The truth and grace evident in their speech and conduct impressed the king so that he made a new decree in honor of the true and living God.

Note carefully in the narrative and the dialog that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were steadfast in truth and grace. They showed honor and respect to the king; they said nothing about the irrationality of making an image and requiring people to bow down to it under threat of execution; they said nothing about those who accused them to the king; and best of all, their testimony about the one true and living God was as simple as it was powerful: “… our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.”

When antagonism toward the kingdom of God heats up and as that antagonism is aimed with greater focus and force on our stewardship, we maintain that stewardship with ever greater clarity so the truth and grace of God can be seen more clearly by contrast. As Peter wrote, “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but kept on entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed” (1 Peter 2:21-24).

No fire can touch anyone immersed in Living Water.

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