For me personally, one of the most awe inspiring acts of faith in the Old Testament is found in the book of Daniel. At the prompting of some malicious Chaldeans; Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego were being commanded by Nebuchadnezzar to worship his gods and his golden image.
‘Then Nebuchadnezzar in rage and anger gave orders to bring Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego; then these men were brought before the king. Nebuchadnezzar responded and said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up? “Now if you are ready, at the moment you hear the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery and bagpipe and all kinds of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, very well. But if you do not worship, you will immediately be cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire; and what god is there who can deliver you out of my hands?” Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego replied to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” Daniel 3:13-15 (ESV)
A couple of key points I personally see in their response to Nebuchadnezzar:
- Their response is based on their belief that GOD IS ABLE to deliver them from the fiery furnace
- And they made sure the King understood that regardless of the outcome, they were standing firm in their faith. A lack of rescue would not invalidate their declaration of faith.
Now for the rest of the story …
Then Nebuchadnezzar was filled with fury, and the expression of his face was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He ordered the furnace heated seven times more than it was usually heated. And he ordered some of the mighty men of his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace. Then these men were bound in their cloaks, their tunics, their hats, and their other garments, and they were thrown into the burning fiery furnace. Because the king’s order was urgent and the furnace overheated, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell bound into the burning fiery furnace. Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.” Daniel 3:19-25 (ESV)
More good news: When we find ourselves in the midst of fires, Christ Jesus is right there in the midst of that fire WITH US… NOTHING can separate us from the love of Christ (Romans 8:35-39).
Oh Lord, give me a fire enduring faith like Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego!
Help me and those around me to realize that it is your identity, your character, your ability and your promises that warrants our faith … not your response to our own individual crisis.