Praising God in the Good Times and the Bad

February 17, 2014 | Tags: , ,

But even if He does not rescue us, we want you as king to know that we will not serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up.

-Daniel 3:18

It was one of the most spiritually depressing times in the land of Israel. After the Babylonians conquered Jerusalem and burned down their city and temple, they carried many Jews off to live in the pagan world of Babylon. The prophet Daniel, along with his three friends, Sadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, found themselves thrown head-first into a world that worshiped many pagan gods. How were they going to handle the pressure to worship what everyone else was worshiping around them? Were they willing to risk everything for Yahweh, the Creator God, even when He allowed His precious people to be deported and displaced from their promised land?

The hot-headed, arrogant Babylonian king named Nebuchadnezzar set up a gold statue 90 feet high in the plain of Dura in Babylon. He assembled all the dignitaries of Babylon, complete with an entire orchestra, in order to make a public display of worship of his statue. When the music played, all were to bow down and worship the gold statue he set up. If someone refused, they would be thrown immediately into the furnace of blazing fire.

Daniel was absent during this scene, but Sadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were present. They had a choice–worship the statue, or be thrown into the blazing fire. Go along with what everyone else was doing, or be subject to certain death. Immediately.

These were indeed bad times. But these men knew their God. They knew the faithfulness of their God. They knew the trustworthiness of their God. They knew, no matter what, they were never going to bow down and worship a foreign god. They were going to stay faithful to their God, no matter what, even if they had to die for it.

Here’s the scene (Daniel 3:12-18):

There are some Jews you have appointed to manage the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These men have ignored you, the king; they do not serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.”

Then in a furious rage Nebuchadnezzar gave orders to bring in Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. So these men were brought before the king. Nebuchadnezzar asked them, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, is it true that you don’t serve my gods or worship the gold statue I have set up? Now if you’re ready, when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, drum, and every kind of music, fall down and worship the statue I made. But if you don’t worship it, you will immediately be thrown into a furnace of blazing fire—and who is the god who can rescue you from my power?”

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied to the king, “Nebuchadnezzar, we don’t need to give you an answer to this question. If the God we serve exists, then He can rescue us from the furnace of blazing fire, and He can rescue us from the power of you, the king. But even if He does not rescue us, we want you as king to know that we will not serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up.

No matter what, in good times and in bad, they acknowledged that Yahweh is God alone. And they worshiped Him. They trusted in Him, because even if He was not going to rescue them from death, He is still the Sovereign God.

But here’s what happened (Daniel 3:19-27):

Then Nebuchadnezzar was filled with rage, and the expression on his face changed toward Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He gave orders to heat the furnace seven times more than was customary, and he commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and throw them into the furnace of blazing fire. So these men, in their trousers, robes, head coverings, and other clothes, were tied up and thrown into the furnace of blazing fire. Since the king’s command was so urgent and the furnace extremely hot, the raging flames killed those men who carried Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego up. And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego fell, bound, into the furnace of blazing fire.

Then King Nebuchadnezzar jumped up in alarm. He said to his advisers, “Didn’t we throw three men, bound, into the fire?”

“Yes, of course, Your Majesty,” they replied to the king.

He exclaimed, “Look! I see four men, not tied, walking around in the fire unharmed; and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”

Nebuchadnezzar then approached the door of the furnace of blazing fire and called: “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, you servants of the Most High God—come out!” So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out of the fire. When the satraps, prefects, governors, and the king’s advisers gathered around, they saw that the fire had no effect on the bodies of these men: not a hair of their heads was singed, their robes were unaffected, and there was no smell of fire on them.

Yes, my friends, God is faithful. He not only delivered the men who were in the fire, but He also stood in the fire with them. That fourth man was no other than the preincarnate Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. When He allows suffering on the part of those who trust in His name, He’s always there with them.

What can we learn from this scene? First, we praise God, in good times and in bad, because no matter what we go through, He remains faithful. Second, we can trust that even in our darkest times of spiritual or physical difficulty, God never leaves His followers who trust in His name. And finally, when we are delivered from suffering, we will be delivered unharmed and unaffected, because God’s glory will always outshine a world of evil and darkness.

So no matter what you are going through, you can praise God. He is good and forever faithful, no matter what.

By Courtney Silberman

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