Fireproof Faith Daniel (part 3)
by Ben Fronczek
One Sunday the minister of a particular congregation walked over to the pulpit and, before he gave his sermon he introduced a guest minister who was in the service that evening. In the introduction, he told the congregation that the minister, an old man now, was one of his dearest friends who he knew since he was a boy. He wanted the old preacher to take a few moments to greet the church and say a few words. With that, an elderly man stepped up to the pulpit and began to speak.
“A father, His son, and a the boy’s friend were sailing off of the Pacific Coast,” He began, “When a fast approaching storm blocked any attempt to get back to shore. The waves were so high, that even though the father was an experienced sailor, he could not keep the boat upright and the three were swept into the ocean as the boat capsized. The old man hesitated for a moment, making eye contact with two teenagers who were, for the first time since the service began, looking somewhat interested in his story.
The aged minister continued with his story, “Grabbing a rescue line, the father had to make the most excruciating decision of his life: to which boy he would throw the other end of the lifeline. He only had seconds to make the decision. The father knew that his son was a Christian and he also knew that his son’s friend was not. He had to make a decision. “As the father yelled out, ‘I love you son!’ He threw out the lifeline to his son’s friend.
By the time the father had pulled the friend back to the capsized boat, his son had disappeared beneath the raging swells into the black of the night. His body was never recovered.” By this time, the two teenagers were sitting up straight in the pew, anxiously waiting for the next words to come out of the old minister’s mouth. “The father,” he continued knew his son would step into eternity with Jesus but he could not bear the thought of his son’s friend stepping into eternity without Jesus.
Therefore, he sacrificed his son to save his son’s friend… With that the old man turned and sat back down in his chair as silence filled the room. Their minister again walked slowly to the pulpit and delivered a brief sermon… I will finish the rest of this story at the end of my sermon.
This story, and the sermon today where we will see what Daniel’s friends did in Daniel 3, prompt me ask the question, ‘How much do I believe and trust in God? And how much do I believe in and trust in what the Bible says?’ Would I compromise my faith and what I believe about God, salvation and heaven in such a situation?
As Christians we are under constant pressure to compromise our beliefs in our culture. Often we are tempted to compromise our beliefs because of subtle pressures that come our way as we interact with others, or while watching TV or while in front of your computer. Or even when we are behind the steering wheel. How well do you stand up under pressure to do what everyone else is doing and ignore God’s will for us? It seems as though God’s people have always had this kind of pressure to compromise their faith. Today I would like to look at how Daniel’s Jewish companions in Babylon named Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego stood their ground and trusted God no matter what the consequence were.
Read Daniel 3 (Click on verse and read)
In Exodus 20:4-5 God commanded,
“You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea.You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods.”
I think this story was more about how much Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego believed in God and His word than how they were saved. Here we see where their convictions lay; they would not bow down to that statue even if it meant death, because they believed it would displease our Lord God.
They probably recognized the fact that bowing down and worshipping idols was the very reason why God allowed the Jewish nation to fall to Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon in the first place.
I have been reading Jeremiah which was written when Nebuchadnezzar was outside the gates of Jerusalem and about to destroy it. In desperation the Jewish people asked, ‘How come Lord?’ God answered them through the prophet Jeremiah. He told them it was because they turned away from Him the living God of Heaven. In Jer. 11 He says,
“11 Therefore, this is what the Lord says: I am going to bring calamity upon them, and they will not escape. Though they beg for mercy, I will not listen to their cries. 12 Then the people of Judah and Jerusalem will pray to their idols and burn incense before them. But the idols will not save them when disaster strikes! 13 Look now, people of Judah; you have as many gods as you have towns. You have as many altars of shame—altars for burning incense to your god Baal—as there are streets in Jerusalem.”
These three young men may have even heard Jeremiah preach these words and here they were with this king telling them to bow down before another graven image. They couldn’t do it. They would have rather died in obedience to God in that fire than do something that they knew would displease Him.
Later on Jesus would say,
“Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Mt. 10:28
What I see here is what I like to call ‘Fireproof faith’. Fireproof faith is being completely submissive to God’s will no matter what the consequences.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s faith was not so much in their deliverance, but rather in their God. It was of the same kind as Job’s, who said, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.” They knew that if God deliver them, His name would be vindicated and honored. But they probably also believed that if they died, at least they did not compromise their faith.
Having faith like this involves trusting in God and His word, no matter what the situation and what the outcome.
Having Faith does not mean that we will know or understand what God is doing or the specific purpose of the trials we encounter. It involves being ready and willing to follow Him and His decrees, all the time, especially so when we don’t know why we are being tested.
In this miracle, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were delivered from the flames, or more accurately in the flames. They were set free in the flames.
There is no suggestion here or anywhere else in Scripture that believers will not experience trouble and suffering. But the believer has an advantage; it is in times of suffering and trouble when the Lord is so much more present to help us or at least comfort us. So we just need to trust Him!
A fellow by the name of Rich Mullins wrote: “You meet the Lord in the furnace a long time before you’ll meet Him in the sky.” Doesn’t it seem like we draw closer to God in times of trail more than any other time?
One of the early church fathers, John Chrysostom, lived in the late 4th and early 5th century. One day he was brought before the emperor and commanded to renounce Christ. The emperor threaten him saying if he would not renounce Christ he would be banished from the country forever—he would be separated from his father’s land for the rest of his life. John responded, “You cannot. The whole world is my Father’s land. You cannot banish me.”
The emperor then said, “Then I will take away all of your property and treasures.” John replied, “You cannot, for all my true treasures are in heaven.”
The emperor then said, “I will send you to a place of absolute solitude where there is not one friend for you to talk to.” John said, “You cannot, for I have a friend that is closer than a brother to me. He is my elder brother, Jesus Christ, who has promised to be with me always—to the very end of the age.”
In anger the emperor then said, “I will then take your life.” John said, “You cannot. For my life is forever hidden in Christ with God.”
Chrysostom was of the same spirit as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
I am not sure if we will ever be called upon to die in a fiery furnace or if we’ll be martyred if we follow Christ. My guess would be, we will not. But we are called out to act and live like a Christian on all occasions no matter what the consequences. .
Otherwise we compromise our faith. Are there pressures and situations that make living life for Christ difficult and sometimes costly? Yes, but hopefully it is during those times that we are identified as disciples of Jesus.In times of testing, God’s people must fight fire with faith.
APPLICATION: How fireproof is your faith? Is your belief and faith in Christ strong enough to meet the challenge of a personal tragedy? Of unanswered prayer? Of criticism? Of personal threats? Of a loss of health? Of loss of possessions? Of persecution? Or loss of a family member? Let these three young men be an example an example for us and an encouragement to fight fire with faith.
NOW FOR THE REST OF THE STORY:
‘After the worship service was over and the preacher finished up his sermon the two teenagers went up and sat at the old man’s side. “That was a nice story,” the boys politely said., “But we don’t think it was realistic for a father to give up his son’s life in hopes that the other boy would become a Christian.”
“Well, you’ve got a point there,” the old man replied glancing down at the worn Bible. A big smile broadened his narrow face, he once again looked up at the boys and said, “It sure isn’t realistic, is it? But I’m standing today to tell you that the story gives me a glimpse of what it must have been like for God to give up His only son for me. You see… I was the father in my story and your Preacher here was my son’s friend.’
You see that old minister believed God and His word. He had no doubt that his son was in heaven He trusted God’s word. He had what all of us as Christians should have and that is an unshakeable faith.