By Ysrael De la Cruz
It is easy to trust God when things go well in our lives. But if you only claim to believe when things are ok in your life, then your faith is weak. It is in the hard times, in times of trouble that you get to realize if your faith is truly solid or not. The worth of your faith is never known in time of peace, but only in difficult times. Whatever you believe about God, about the world, about yourself will be challenged by the circumstances in which you find yourself. Is your faith evident even during difficulties? it will be after the trials or difficulties have tested you that you will know whether your faith is unshakable or not. Peter reminds us that difficulties come to prove how genuine is. (1 Pet.1:6-7)
The Jewish people went through the most difficult times in their history. In 586 BCE King Nebuchadnezzar surrounded the city of Jerusalem, destroyed the temple Solomon had built; took the temple treasury to Babylon. He took captive some of the survivors to work in the provinces of Babylon. Among some of the prisoners was a man named Daniel. This is known as the Babylonian captivity or Exile.
What this meant for the Jews:
–no temple, or Mosaic law to guide themselves.
-No priests, sacrifices, holy feasts, or offerings.
-No family traditions, your freedom as a nation was taken away. They belonged to the king of Babylon.
There would be nothing in Babylon to remind them of the LORD.
Would you still worship and honor God if you did not have a church building? Church ministries or programs? A Bible? A pastor or church leader? Would you still honor God if those around you did not?
Daniel had three friends who were taken captive with him. A lot of things changed for Daniel and his friends. The king put them in charge of the affairs of the provinces because they were smart and good looking. They were always tempted to worship other gods; to go with the culture and so forth.
Their names got changed from Hebrew names to Babylonian names. (Dan.1:6-8)
Daniel (Yahweh is my judge)———-………………..Belteshazzar (Bel protects the king)
Hananiah (Yahweh is gracious)……………….Shadrack (Command of Aku, the moon god)
Mishael (Who is like Yahweh)…………………………….Meshack (who is like Aku?)
Azariah (Yahweh has helped)…………………………….Abednego (servant of a god)
Even though they gave them Babylonian names, these young men made the choice to be faithful to Yahweh even in the midst of a pagan culture. But their faith in God was severely tested.
King Nebuchadnezzar made a statue and ordered that all people would worship this image at the sound of music. (Da,3:4-6) Everyone in the Babylonian kingdom bowed down to the statue for it was a do or die. Read verses 1-7
The Jews were denounced (v.8-12)
(v.12)But there are some Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon–Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego–who pay no attention to you, Your Majesty. They neither serve your gods nor worship the image of gold you have set up. NIV
Nebuchadnezzar was furious to find out some Jews did not pay attention to his decree. (v.13)
The king gives the three men a chance to do what everyone in the kingdom is doing. (v.14-15)
-You don’t have to die; all you have to do is worship the image. I will give you another chance, but if you refuse no one will save you from the furnace.
The three men’s reply (v.16-18)
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us c from Your Majesty’s hand. 18But 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.” NIV
These men had already made their decision. When I think about their faith, there is a word that comes to mind. “CONVICTION” This is what most Christians in America struggle with. Conviction: Webster: A firmly held belief or opinion. Synonym: (assurance, confidence, certainty). These three men were confident in their believe that God could save them from danger. “The God we serve is able to save us from it.” They were certain that God had the power to rescue them from the king. However, they also understood that it would be God’s will to intervene.
They would not compromise their belief in God whether they were saved or not.
(v.18) But even if he does not, we want you to know, O King, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”
We will worship God whether he saves us or not. We will not compromise our belief to save our lives. We will obey God even if it cost us our lives. This is conviction. This is unshakable faith at its best. Faith during the trials.
Their answer angered the king. He ordered the furnace to be heated seven times hotter than usual.(v.19)
The three men were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace.
Did you notice? God did not keep them from being thrown into the fire; God showed up to walk with them in the fire. God saved them in the fire.
At times God won’t keep you from a situation and you may think he is not there helping you or keeping you from the situation. He will let you go through it and he shows up in the midst of the storm or struggle just like he showed up in the midst of the fire.
Nebuchadnezzar’s reaction (v.24-26)
-He was astonished and jumped to his feet when he realized there were four men walking on the fire, unbound. The fourth looked like the son of the gods. How is that possible? God had sent his angel to rescue these three men from danger.
Their faith made an impact in this kingdom (v.26-30)
-It caused a pagan king to give glory to God because of their faith. Unshakable faith is evident. People will notice it or see it in your action.
v.28- Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. 29Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way.”
God was honored, glorified, exalted in that nation because of the faith of Shadrack Meshach and Abednego.
Unshakable faith points others toward God and causes them to praise the Lord.
Unshakable faith is rewarded in this life and the life to come. (v.30)
The king promoted these men in the province of Babylon.
Jesus applauded the faith of those he healed; their healing was the reward for their faith. “Your faith has healed you”
Jesus said to one of the churches in Revelation to be faithful unto death and he will give them the victor’s crown. Rev.2:10
How is your faith during these difficult times? Do you have the assurance that the God we worship is able to keep us from harm during this pandemic? Yes, He is able to do more than we could think.
Are you ready to worship God even when things do not go as you would like?
May Shadrach Meshack and Abednego be an example for us of what it means to have unshakable faith in the midst of trying times. Genuine faith is demonstrated in the trials.