Shlomo Breznitz was a member of the Israeli Knesset, and retired from there in 2006. As a Holocaust survivor, he said the survivors exhibited either Faith, Hope or Denial. Asked what the difference between Faith and Hope is, he commented that Hope is based on what people believed they could do themselves to get out of their predicament. He said that Faith is a greater motivator, because it depended on trust in a force outside of themselves to get out of their predicament (interview 1/10/2010).
This was the situation in the book of the Prophet Daniel. Both he and his three best friends were Jewish Royalty, taken captive into Babylon. The Babylonians worshiped idols, particularly the god, Nebo, who was the god of learning and education. The King's title included this god's name. Nebuchadnezzar dreamed a dream of a statue depicting the coming world powers, with him as the head. One day he decided to build a statue like that, and then commanded everyone, senators, congressional representatives and governors to gather around and fall down and worship it. You can read this in Daniel 3:18-26.
I see some things here that can help anyone undergoing a trial by fire. Look with me at the fire, the friends and the finale.
• Slew the Soldiers; it was so hot. The three friends were safe in the fire with God's preservation. Therefore, God uses fire to destroy and to preserve.
• Startled the Sovereign. The Confused King asks, didn't we throw in three? Were they bound or not? The fourth one looks like the Son of God! The King saw God in this.
• Silenced the Stargazers. The men who brought the accusation against them were called 'Chaldeans' who were astrologers, interpreting fortunes by the stars. They replied 'that's right'. God can shut the mouths of your accusers.
• Fell in the Fire. They fell down bound at the feet of the Lord in the fire. When you worship at the feet of the Lord, your miracle is already assured.
• Favored with Freedom. The soldiers died, but the Lord loosed their bonds. They were free in the fire! You can be in the fire, and still be free in the Lord.
• They Followed in the Flames. They did not run out of the fire, they walked around in the fire. They were following the Lord, doing a little 'Jericho march' and the King could see them doing it! They were walking witnesses.
There is a timing of God involved in every trial.
They did not leave until God gave them the word. Yes, the King called, but they were listening to the Lord.
- Jesus remained in the grave for 3 days until God's timing was complete (Acts 2:26-27).
- Paul prayed for relief from the 'thorn in the flesh' three times (2 Cor. 12:8ff), and God said wait, my grace is enough, you wait.
- Noah 'remained in the Ark' after the ground was dry, for two more months (Gen 8:12-18). Finally, God spoke and said; now you can leave. It is only safe to walk away from the fire when God says so! You need to wait for the word.
1. It Floored the Fortunetellers.
o The evidence superceeded the situation. No burn, smell or singe. You have no after effects when God is with you in your fire.
o The evidence supported the Supernatural. "Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee" (Psalm 76:10)
o The evidence separated the Sinners from the Saints. "Ye servants of the most high God, come forth" (Dan 3:26). "Every people...which speak anything amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.... Shall be cut in pieces..." (Dan 3:29)
2. It Furthered the Faith.
o Promotion of the "Friends" by the King (vs. 30). They were in position to help the rest of the Jewish captives.
o Prohibited slander of the God of Israel. Babylonian Law now made it a crime.
o Preempted Idol worship. Israel returned to the land of their origin and never again engaged in Idol worship. They became a fiercely monotheistic people. They are still fiercely monotheistic.
3. It Fosters Fortitude.
- Trust God no matter the circumstances. You don't need to understand.
- Take a stand for what you believe. God will honor your faithfulness.
- Treat your turmoil as temporary. God will see you through this.
Are you puzzled over your present trial? Perhaps this explanation may help you hold on to your sanity.
Out on the ocean, a fierce storm overwhelmed a ship and all drowned except for one man. He was cast up on a deserted Island, and marooned. He built a rude hut from branches and palm leaves, and managed to make a fire to cook what he could trap. He prayed daily for rescue, as several months went by. One day returning from his traps, he saw a column of smoke ahead of him. He ran to his little shelter. Flames engulfed it! That night he had nowhere to sleep except on the beach next to the embers of his only shelter. He woke up the next morning to see a rowing boat approaching the shore, while a steamer was standing off in the bay. He asked how they knew to come and rescue him. The Captain replied, "We saw your smoke signal at sunset, but were afraid to approach the Island until morning!" His fire was the answer to his prayers.
When you have been through the fire and come out in victory, you will never be the same. God does not abandon you, but is with you in every trial, no matter how fiery it seems. He allows the trials, and we do not always understand why He does so at the time, but He does; and He alone knows the future.
- © Jim Cole-Rous. Dec. 2010.