September 27, 2021
"Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied to the king, ‘Nebuchadnezzar, we don’t need to give you an answer to this question. If the God we serve exists..."
“Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied to the king, ‘Nebuchadnezzar, we don’t need to give you an answer to this question. If the God we serve exists, then He can rescue us from the furnace of blazing fire, and He can rescue us from the power of You, the king. But even if He does not rescue us, we want you as king to know that we will not serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up.’” Daniel 3:16-18
As a child, I learned about all the heroes of the Bible: David, Samson, Daniel, Noah, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These were men and women (and sometimes boys and girls) whose faith led them to overcome impossible odds because their God was bigger than any situation the world could trap them in. The book of Hebrews recounts many of those great faith victories.
“And what can I say? Time is too short for me to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, who by faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the raging fire, escaped the edge of the sword, gained strength after being weak, became mighty in battle, and put foreign armies to flight. Women received their dead raised to life again.” Hebrews 11:32-35a
That was a pretty impressive advertisement for faithfulness, and it was only the end of a long list of faith champions. But just after telling their stories - the ones we all want to emulate - the writer of Hebrews describes another group of faithful followers.
“Some men were tortured, not accepting release, so that they might gain a better resurrection, and others experienced mockings and scourgings, as well as bonds and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawed in two, they died by the sword, they wandered about in sheepskins, in goatskins, destitute, afflicted, mistreated. The world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts, mountains, caves, and in holes in the ground. All these were approved through their faith, but they did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, so that they would not be made perfect without us.” Hebrews 11:35b-40
We may not know what the future holds (even the earthly outcomes of our day-to-day faithfulness), but we know Who holds the future. That is, we seek an eternal kingdom, which makes whatever hardship we must endure in this life worth it. We don’t look to our circumstances to determine whether we will be faithful; we look to our faith to determine how we will respond to our circumstances.
Notice, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego did not know whether God would rescue them. None of the “heroes of the faith” did, nor do we. They knew God could rescue them if He desired. He had already saved them from the blazing fires of burning besieged Jerusalem! Still, the object of their faith was God Himself, and not His deliverance. If you are struggling, hold on!! Either in this life or the next, God will deliver His faithful children, those whose hope is in Messiah.