Daniel 3 – When the heat is on
Laura Simpkins encourages us to follow Daniel’s example and trust God
‘Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, 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 deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”’
Daniel 3:16-18 NIV
Call me thick, but I don’t seem to learn even the hard way when it comes to oven use. Too many times I have failed to get out of the way of the heat wafting out of the door, and not only fogged up my glasses, but experienced that intense heat in my throat and lungs, and felt a little singed by my jewellery conducting it to my skin. Those moments of stupidity-induced pain are infinitesimal in comparison to the experiences of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego recorded in Daniel 3. They knew suffering of a kind we can’t imagine.
These men of grit stood undeterred by the opposition, in declaring the name of the God who they knew had delivered them before. They trusted God with huge problems! They needed him to rescue the strongest and brightest of their nation from exile in Babylon. They needed him to restore their homeland and the remnant there from the deterioration and decay that was eating them.
Furthermore, they needed him, quite acutely in that moment, to save them from punishment by death under the Babylonian king for not bowing to his golden statue, which represented his sovereign god-like rule. Into the furnace they were thrown, more and more wood put on, restraints tied round them. They refused to bow – yet not even a hair on their heads was singed. The physical and metaphorical heat was one they naturally should not have withstood.
The source of this transcendent supernatural power was not only that they trusted in their God to deliver them. Additionally, regardless of the outcome, they had refused to worship and praise any god (or goal, or idea, or fad), but would only praise His sovereign name. This was the unfathomable saving faith in God’s sovereignty that the likes of Abraham showed when he presented his child Isaac to God. It was not merely a desperate plea, but recognition that God ultimately knew best and would deliver accordingly.
At the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak Prince Charles spoke about how the faith in ‘ourselves and each other’ would be our way through current turbulent times. I couldn’t help but shout at the TV, ‘No! That’s not the answer!’ While confidence in ourselves and others are not entirely bad things, our source of hope comes ultimately from one place: the God of Jacob and Israel, who came to Earth in human flesh and offered himself to rescue us from the pride and misplaced faith of those like Nebuchadnezzar and his people. Our trust, our worship, and our praise must be directed to Him, and Him alone.
Praise puts the right perspective on our situation. Praise lifts us out of our circumstances and into the realm of trust in God’s sovereignty that will carry us through. Regardless of the inescapable and incomprehensible suffering in this fallen world, our God is more powerful than the flames. The heat will not destroy, but will purify. In fact, Nebuchadnezzar came to believe in God because of their witness of faith, and Jews found new protection in his kingdom because of God changing his heart!
Despite the slight lifting of government restrictions on our movements, the threat and challenges of COVID-19 remain very real. Yet we know that no heat, nor limitation, no virus, nor scheme of the Enemy will stop the God who fights for us. Let us not cease from standing in trust and praise for his glorious name!
Suggested further reading
• Psalm 57 • Psalm 79:8 • Revelation 8:3-5
Suggested worship music
Father God, the God of Jacob and Israel, we praise You for Your Almighty power, justice, mercy and compassion. We thank you for the amazing gifts of abundant life and eternity in heaven, which You give freely. We repent of slipping into disbelief and distrust, distracted by the circumstances around us, and the words of those without wisdom from You. Strengthen us to stand against evil, against trial, and in our mild persecutions through trust in You.
We thank you that Your heart is not just for us, the believers, but for the healing of the whole of creation. Would You restore the nations in physical and spiritual health and prosperity through the work of the Holy Spirit. Empower us so that we bring You glory, and like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego point others to faith in You. Refine our hearts, and teach us to walk with you in praise all day, everyday. In the name of Jesus, our rescuer. Amen
Laura Simpkins, discipleship coordinator