Wednesday, December 2, 2009

in the fire

There is an Old Testament story of three Hebrew men who were key leaders in the Babylonian empire where the king built a gold statue of himself and demanding everyone bow done and worship his statue. Of course they refused and were brought in to the king to answer for their choices. The king even gave them one more chance to bow down. Again they refused. The king then ordered that a furnace be heated up 7 times hotter than normal, and these leaders be tied up and put into the furnace. The statement these leaders made was incredible, “…we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” (Daniel 3) The furnace was so hot it killed the guards who threw them into it.

As the king looked at the furnace, he saw not only the three men but also a fourth he said looked like a son of the gods. He noticed the three were unbound, unharmed and walking around in the furnace. The end of the story is they came out of the furnace and that “…the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.” And the king ordered the nation to worship their God and not his statue anymore. Wow!

One intriguing fact of this story is that the three men and the fourth, whom scholars often believe was Christ himself, were “walking” around in the fire. I can only surmise that these men had read what the prophet Isaiah had written some 100+ years earlier: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned, the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” (Isaiah 43:1-3) These men no doubt recalled this passage and as they were thrown into the furnace, started “walking”.

You might feel like you are being thrown into the furnace, maybe even a 7 times hotter fire. Well my friend, start walking and repeating this verse…when I walk through the fire, I will not be burned, the flames will not set me ablaze. For Lord, you are my God, the Holy One, my Savior! Keep walking, you might just see Christ show up in your in your fire too!

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