Are you drawn to fire?

I sometimes catch myself staring at the candle in a restaurant, but also at the loud flames devouring paper and incense in the massive furnace across the street where I live. Both flames dance, but for different purposes.

Once in the courts of Babylon, angry flames danced in a furnace that was heated seven times hotter than usual, at the command of Nebuchadnezzar II who was king of Babylon at that time.

The king was enraged by Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego who had disregarded his command to worship the golden statue he made. He sent for some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up the three men before throwing them into the fire.

Well, things escalated quickly, but the three men seemed prepared. Renouncing their faith was not an option, even as they faced the furnace.

“If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But 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.” (Daniel 3:17-18)

Why so serious, right? Couldn’t they have just followed through with the formalities but tell God they didn’t mean it? 

God, I may be bowing to their gods on the outside, but I’m standing up on the inside! You look at the heart, right?

But that’s no way to talk to God.

“You shall not make other gods [to worship] besides Me; gods of silver or gods of gold, you shall not make [these lifeless idols] for yourselves.” (Exodus 20:23 AMP)

Their situation made it impossible for them to please the king without disobeying God. Therefore they chose to enter the furnace because they found it better to obey God. They would rather have faced death and go to where God is than live in disregard for what He had said. 

And that revealed something about their relationship with God – they must have understood God’s heart towards them.

The most practical thing we can do in this life is to obey God.

I imagine this one thought going through their heads – not just in that urgent moment before the most powerful king that ever ruled Babylon – but consistently in their everyday lives: If God commands us to do something, it is good for us to obey.

The three men – Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego – were clear about two things: God was able to deliver them from the fire, and God didn’t have to deliver them from the fire.

None of it made practical sense  – they were risking their lives over a statue. But perhaps that’s the lesson: The most practical thing we can do in this life is to obey God.

Obedience is the place where the mind and will agree in faith, that God works for the good of those who love Him.

The story played out in a miraculous way, as God answered Nebuchadnezzar’s taunting question: “What god is there who can rescue you out of my hands?”

Watching the furnace, the king saw four men walking around in the fire, free from their ropes, and the fourth looked like “a son of the gods”.

Sometimes we might think that it’s just a good story – until we are bound in ropes we cannot get ourselves out of, or come face to face with fierce fire. Will we have the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego with us then? 

But what was meant to threaten the three men only proved their faithfulness to God, and the greatness of their God who not only freed them but also met them in the fire.

Obedience is the place where the mind and will agree in faith, that God works for the good of those who love Him.

Sometimes we encounter fire that could well destroy us, but if we surrender ourselves to God, He can use the fire to refine us.

Moments of testing reveal what we’re really made of. Sometimes we have to go through the fire if we want to come out refined and pure as gold.

Fire is scary, but not when we trust in God who is able to deliver us. He works for the good for those who love Him. What god walks with us in the fire so we come out as gold? The God who saves.

And no fire can snatch us out of His hands.