Be Faithful During Trial (1)
IT is no child’s play to be a true and devoted worshipper of God, to be a true soldier of the Cross. The true believer lives under the banner and the laws of his Captain but the world expects him to follow its rules. The god of this world is the devil and he wants to claim implicit obedience. Satan sets up himself to be worshipped. If we would not worship him or his image, the fierce tyrant would remind us that the burning fiery furnace has not yet cooled. To be a real Christian, you must decide to cast off the bondage of this present evil world. Your resolve must be taken to bear all consequences rather than worship the idol of the hour.
The music of the world will sound and the threats of its prince will be heard, but the true believer would disobey the evil one and obey God. That which commends itself to your conscience as true and pure, you must do, but that which is false and sinful you must quit with firm resolve. The loyal subject of Jesus Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords, will never attempt to serve God and mammon at the same time.
The question that then arose was: “Is it true?” The tyrannical king Nebuchadnezzar had asked for a reaffirmation of their earlier position from Shadrach, Meshack and Abednego. Would they reconsider and change their decision or were they ready to prove it true at the expense of their lives? In his hands lay their liberty and their lives, their progress and their prosperity, their happiness and their hope. He was their benefactor, employer and emperor. He could not believe that anyone would disobey his orders. We must be ready to answer without any hesitation or fear that it is most certainly true.
Nebuchadnezzar’s call to idol worship was universal and non-negotiable – the command extended to all people without exception. The penalty for refusal was death, painful death in a furnace of fire. A full tyrannical authority was behind the edict of this supreme dictator. The threat was to force everyone to become fearful and forsake their character and their Creator. What a lamentable sight to see all the people, except the faithful few, bend and bow to the will of tyranny! The creatures of God were forced to worship a creation of man! Nebuchadnezzar himself did not notice that Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego had refused to worship his idol. Some informants had reported them to the king. The king’s fury rose with his pride. The information that three believers in the true God had the boldness to disobey him and disregard his idol came upon him like a thunderbolt out of a cloudless sky. It was unexpected. He devised the greatest form of persecution he could imagine.
The persecution was a fiery trial of their faith but their faith was strong enough to neutralise the fear of fire and remain “steadfast and unmovable.” They were strong in their commitment to God and would rather suffer than sin. During the persecution of the early Church, a heroic saint was summoned before the Emperor of Rome. The Emperor threatened him with banishment if he dared remain a Christian.
‘Me thou canst not banish, for the world is my Father’s house,’ was his noble answer.
‘But I will take thy life,’ said the Emperor.
‘Nay, but thou canst not, sir, for my life is hid with Christ in God.’
‘I will deprive thee of thy treasures,’ continued the Emperor.
‘I have no treasures that thou canst seize,’ was the response, ‘for my treasure is in heaven and my heart is there.’
‘I will drive thee away from men, and thou shalt have no friend left.’
‘Nay, that thou canst not,’ replied the bold and faithful witness, ‘for I have a Friend in heaven from whom thou canst not separate me.’
Further Reading (King James Version): Daniel 3:13-15; Exodus 5:2, 10-19; John 15: 18-22; Acts 8:1-4; 9:1, 2, 13, 14; 1 Peter 2:19-23; 1 Thessalonians 2:4-6, 14-16; 2 Timothy 3:12-14; Psalms 119:86-93; 143:3-10; Daniel 3:16-18; Philippians 4:6-9; 1 Peter 5:7-9; Isaiah 51:12-16; Acts 4:17-20; 5:27-30; Hebrews 12:1-4; 1 Peter 4:12-19; 2 Thessalonians 1:3-10; 2 Corinthians 4:13-18; Daniel 3:17; Romans 4:20, 21; 8:18,25-28; Isaiah 43:2,7; 2 Timothy 1: 11-14; Hebrews 2:13-18; 7:25, 26; 2 Timothy 4:18; Romans 8:31-39; Jude 24, 25.