God Protects His Own (2)
THERE are precious promises we can never prove until we encounter some problems and pressures in life. There is a kind of sweet juice of the grapes of grace, which can only be pressed out by the hand of providence. There are states of divine companionship, which can only be experienced when we find ourselves in situations where human companionship is impossible. There is a depth of divine love and intimate fellowship known only to believers who courageously face the opposition of the world against righteousness.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego had a fresh understanding, a divine contact and companionship, an intimate fellowship, a new revelation of God’s power, an experience of security and immunity, a fulfillment of an incredible promise, a supernatural sign and wonder, in the furnace which they could not have had outside the furnace. They lost nothing inside the furnace; rather they gained incalculable spiritual wealth, immediate earthly rewards and heaven’s enduring recognition. We lose nothing in the furnace of persecution; rather our profit and rewards are abundant in the present life and in eternity.
“Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonished.” He was yet to learn that God is able with infinite ease to deliver His children in the most terribly extreme situations. He knows how to deliver the godly out of fiery trials and grant His own a perfect triumph over the rage of their enemies. Nebuchadnezzar’s observations here are significant and worthy of our meditation. He said: (I) “Did not we cast three men BOUND into the midst of the fire? (II) “walking in the midst of the fire”; (III) “and they have no hurt”; (IV) “and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.” The king and all his men examined them when they came out of the furnace. They all (V) “saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power; (VI) “nor was an hair of their head singed” (VII) “neither were their coats changed”; (VIII) “nor the smell of fire had passed on them.” There is both instruction and encouragement in the climax of the king’s confession and declaration: “There is no other God that can deliver after this sort.” Those who suffer for Christ have His gracious presence with them in their persecution, even in the fiery furnace, or in the valley of the shadow of death, and therefore, need fear no evil.
“Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego” (Daniel 3: 28). He had earlier said, “Who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands? (Daniel 3:15) Now, he has come to recognize the existence and power of that God and His involvement in the affairs of men on earth. He referred to God as “the most high God” who has no equal, rival or comparison; for He said, “there is no other God that can deliver after this sort” (Daniel 3:26,29). The manifestation of God’s presence and the demonstration of God’s power changed the king’s mind. God’s faithfulness in response to our faith can change the attitude and life of the most idolatrous and wicked sinner.
Nebuchadnezzar’s god could not deliver or protect his “most mighty men” (Daniel 3:20,22) but “the most high God” delivered “His (own) servants that trusted in Him” who would “not serve nor worship any god, except their own God” (Daniel 2:28). Dead idols are impotent but the living God is omnipotent. Truly, there is no other God that can deliver after this sort. So, the once boastful king, here, ate his humble pie, and blessed God for His goodness and power.
Nebuchadnezzar’s praise and confession of God was doctrinally sound and widely publicised, but he did not renounce his god, neither did he destroy the image, which he had set up. There was no genuine conversion; there was no decision to worship the living God only. Loud and empty confession without genuine, life-transforming conversion is worthless in God’s sight.
“Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, in the province of Babylon.” He reversed his earlier negative decision concerning these three faithful men, restored them to positions of honour and even promoted them to greater places of service and usefulness. Seeing their uncompromising loyalty and faithfulness to their God, he could trust them more as men of high moral standard and unwavering, righteous principle.
Further Reading (King James Version): Daniel 3: 19-30; Isaiah 43: 2-4; Exodus 3:2-4; Psalm 66: 12-16; Zechariah 13:9;Hebrews 11: 33, 43; Zechariah 3:1,2; Isaiah 26: 11-13; 1 Peter 4: 12-14; Ephesians 6:16; Daniel 3: 28-30; 6: 1-3; 2: 47-49; 6: 26-28; Psalms 34:7,8,22; 75:6,7; 91:14-16; John 12:26; Job 42:10,12; Genesis 41:39-43.