Hi, everyone. I am Joe Infranco, welcome to God Today. I am an attorney with Alliance Defending Freedom, but I am not talking about cases today. I get to come and share with you in your home.
I want to tell you a story that you know very well, from the book of Daniel 3. It is about 3 Hebrew children: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They were captives in a foreign culture. It was a culture where the King changed their names from their Hebrew names. He even changed Daniel’s name from Daniel “God is my judge” to Belteshazzar. Which was basically an homage of sorts to the Babylonian deity, Bel.
The story is told that the King Nebuchadnezzar, erected an image in the plain of Dura, right outside of the city of Babylon. It was a statue of gold. It was roughly 90 feet tall and 9 feet wide. You can picture it, picture something 10 inches tall and an inch wide. Kind of a long, narrow sort of thing. The King gave a decree that when musicians played, everyone had to bow down. The 3 Hebrew children were not going to do that because it would be an act of idolatry. This was not just a courtesy bow, a greeting, this was a bow meaning you were reverencing this thing in front of you – the Hebrew word would suggest that.
When the music played, the 3 children would not bow down. As an old friend of mine used to say, “When everyone is bowing down and you ain’t, it ain’t hard to see who you are.” The King is furious, he calls the three of them over. “What is this I hear? I am going to give you another chance. Maybe you didn’t get the memo. Maybe your hard drive crashed. This is the way it works. When the musicians play, you three fellows bow down.”
Oh, I like the faith of these young men. They looked him in the face and said, “King, we don’t even have to be careful in answering you about this. Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us. Even if He does not, we will not bow down to your image. The King ordered his furnace, an old kiln that open at the top where you could dump in material. He ordered it heated 7 times hotter, the scripture says. Now, this is what you would call in modern day language, “exceeding manufacturer specifications”. If you think the McDonald’s cup of coffee was hot, you have no idea how hot this was.
These 3 young Hebrew men are dragged over. Two big guards who played, probably offensive line for the University of Babylon, are holding them and getting ready to toss them in. This is quite a scene. How would we react to this? It is very possible if we were in that position, we might have come up with a plan. I can see Shadrach leaning over to Meshach saying, “Hey, I’ve got an idea. When the music plays, we will bow down, but we won’t really bow down in our hearts.” Nope. That is not what they did, is it?
They went into the flames. You know, they were praying and hoping for God’s deliverance. But you have to think. When those two guards, or however many there were, were hoisting them and getting ready, “1, 2…” I could see if I was there, kind of looking up and saying, “God, I know you work all things together for good for those who love you, and are called according to your purposes. But, I want to point something out to you. I know you see everything here. You have all those omnis: omniscience, omnipresence, and all that. But, from my admittedly limited perspective, I just want to remind you that if you are going to do something miraculous, this would be a really good time to do it.”
Well, of course it didn’t work that way. Into the flames they went. The King looks over and sees not 3, but 4 people walking around. God saves them. Isaiah said, “I will be with you in the fire, the fire will not burn you.” And now, certainly, the King is a changed man. He still is interested in his former ways. “If you disagree with what I say, I am going to chop you up into little pieces.” This was before there was cruel and unusual punishment.
That is the kind of God we serve. Sometimes He lets us go in the fire, but He delivers us through the flames. Maybe you are in that kind of experience now. If so, I would like to pray for you. Father, thank you that you are always with us, for good and for our care. Lord, for those who are watching today, if they are walking through the flames, I ask, Lord, that you would preserve them the way you preserved these 3 faithful Hebrew children. Deliver them in this trial. Thank you, Father, that you never leave us or forsake us. Thanks so much for joining us again. I am Joe Infranco, this has been God Today.