Monday Minutes With Pastor Chris McCool (July 11, 2022)

In Daniel 3:1, we read that “Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold. . . .”

You may recall that Nebuchadnezzar was the king of Babylon, which had taken the nation of Judah captive pursuant to God’s chastening hand. What a terrible place for three young Jewish boys to find themselves! Uprooted from home and all they had known, they were now forced into bond-service to the King as part of his company of eunuchs.

As if that weren’t enough, now the King of Babylon had set up an idol that they were commanded to worship. The penalty for failing to worship the idol was death – and not just any death, but death in the “burning fiery furnace.”

You may ask, “What does an idol from thousands of years ago have to do with me today?” The answer is, “Much!” You see, we may not literally fall down and worship an idol of gold, but there are still idols today!

An idol is anything that comes between you and God. It can be your job, your recreation, your social life – ANYTHING! If it keeps you from your service to God, it is an idol. And just because the ancient kingdom of Babylon no longer exists on a map, don’t think that it doesn’t affect us today: in truth, we are living in spiritual Babylon!

One of the problems with living in Babylon is that Babylon won’t leave you us alone. The Babylonian world-system is bent on corrupting us from the true worship of God. That’s what it did to the Hebrew children: they enticed them and coerced them in an attempt to corrupt them from God’s word and worship. But thankfully, these three young Jewish boys stood strong!

As we continue to read in this chapter, we find that these three young men – Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego – were “ratted out” by their neighbors, and the king had them bound and thrown in the fiery furnace. What an awful state of affairs! How terrifying it would be to face such a torturous death! Surely anyone facing such a condemnation would do ANYTHING to keep from dying in such a uniquely terrible way!

But that is not what we find happening in the case of these three young men. In Daniel 3:16-18, they answered the King and said, “[W]e are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve they gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.”

Wow! What courage! What amazing spiritual fortitude! What could possibly possess them to respond in such a way? The answer is found in their statement to the King. First of all, they knew their God was able to deliver them. Did you know that Jehovah God has all power in heaven and earth, and has His way among the armies of heaven and the inhabitants of the earth? Dan. 4:34-35. Did you know that He upholds all things by the word of His power (Heb. 1:1-3), and is “in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased?” Ps. 115:3. That’s the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego?

Secondly, they knew that their God WOULD deliver them from the hand of the King, one way or another! Maybe Jehovah God would nullify the fires, or maybe He would deliver them through death. But either way, they would be out of the power of the King!

Finally, their statement of faith was so powerful because it was a “but if not” faith: “God, we know you are ABLE to deliver, and you WILL deliver ultimately, but even if you DON’T deliver us in this instance, WE WILL NOT WORSHIP ANY OTHER GOD!!!!” What an awesome statement of faith!

The “but if not” faith of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, reminds me of the statement by Job in Job 13:15: “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him”. Are we able to speak with such powerful faith? Are we trusting God so much that we can speak to a Babylonian king without fear, trusting God to deliver us in some way?

And by the way, you may recall that the three Jewish boys were ultimately delivered from the burning fiery furnace. How, you may ask? By the presence of the very Son of God in the furnace with them! What an amazing thought: with Jesus in the furnace with us, we have no need for fear!

May the Lord bless you is my prayer.

Elder Chris McCool, Pastor