The Great Deliverer Day 2: Deliverance in the Furnace
“But if you do not worship, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?” Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the gold image that you have set up.”
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, “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 3:15-18, 23-25, ESV).
Have you ever been in a situation where you had to make a choice to do the right thing, and it was very difficult to do what was right? One situation that comes to my mind was in my college days when I was short on cash. I was running out from the local library and stopped at a pay phone to make a quick call home (I am painfully aware how much this statement dates me). When I went to put my purse on the shelf at the pay phone, I noticed a bank envelope sitting next to the phone. Opening it, I discovered a little over $200 in cash inside. No name. Nothing at all that would indicate who left this behind. What should I do with it?
Now I can tell you, I wanted that money. In fact, I could easily justify that without any identification, the person I could turn it in to at the library may end up just keeping it anyway. But it still didn’t sit right with my conscience. What if the person it belonged to backtracked to the library and asked if it had been found and turned in? I know I would go searching for that money, and I had no doubt the owner would as well. And so I did what I knew I should do and I turned it in to the woman who worked at the library. It didn’t really matter what happened to it from there; what mattered was what I did with it. That’s really all God would hold me accountable for.
Two hundred dollars is nothing compared to what these Hebrew men faced in their moment of decision. This trio was ordered to worship a golden image or face being thrown into a fiery furnace. That’s a pretty big consequence for doing the right thing—refusing to worship any god but the one true God. I know I would feel compelled to do the right thing, but I would be absolutely terrified to follow through.
The one thing that stands out to me about these Hebrew men was their total reliance on God that He would deliver them. It doesn’t say they were shaking with fear or trying to decide if they would obey the king or obey God. They were firm in their refusal to worship a false god and didn’t waver as they faced their fate. The price to pay wasn’t given much consideration; their faith was unwavering—and it truly challenges mine.
What decisions do you face today that have you pulled in two directions? Most of the time we know which way is the one God would have us choose, but sometimes, if you’re like me, you sell Him short and take the easy way out. Making the right decision often has a cost associated with it, but we must always remember that the price tag of disobeying God has the higher cost long term. I could have kept the $200 and found some fun and exciting ways to spend it. The Hebrew men could have worshiped the golden image and gone about their business without facing the fire.
While I have no idea what ever happened to that money in the end, I know God honors our obedience, and that has to be enough. But for these three men, their obedience allowed them to experience the amazing miracle of being delivered by the hand of their God. They were untouched by the fire—no smell of smoke, no singed hair, no evidence of having been in it. They, along with King Nebuchadnezzar and all those who looked on, were firsthand witnesses of the power of the Great Deliverer.
When we do the right thing, God notices. But that’s not all—others notice too. They will see the cost associated with your decision, and no matter if they think you’re foolish for your choice, they will respect someone who stands up to do what is right. As His followers, we carry the name of Jesus in all that we do. Sometimes it’s not hard to do what’s right, and sometimes it’s very difficult. But when we truly weigh the cost, considering what our Savior has done for us, no price is too great to honor Him with our obedience. May we be challenged each day as we face decisions, big or small; doing what’s right is the only way to honor Christ.