Lessons from the Fiery Furnace

Last night in our Bible study we reviewed the details of Daniel chapter three.  It is no small wonder that this is many Christian’s favorite Bible story.  If we are not careful, however, these stories become just that- stories, and they lose their significance in our lives.  Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah were real men.  They were men removed from home at a young age and taken to Babylon.  Their names were changed, their culture was changed, their homes were changed, but, thank God there were certain things that would not change.  From chapter one we learn that their diet would not change.  They all with purpose of heart rejected the wine and pulse of Babylon.  Being blessed with divine favor, they stayed true to their convictions.
In chapter three Nebuchadnezzar tried to change their worship.  He erected an image to himself and gathered a band, and at the sound of the band all knees were to bow and worship this golden image.  All nations, tongues and peoples were gathered there on the plains of Dura twelve miles southwest of Babylon.  When the band played every knee bowed and every tongue confessed….well, except three.  The king was enraged and threatened against Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah a fiery furnace.  They said, We are not careful, O king, to answer thee according to this matter. They said, “Our God is able to deliver us from this fiery furnace, but if He chooses not to do that, we are willing to die for our faith in God.”
Therefore his face turned against them, and he cast them into this furnace seven times hotter than normal.  As a matter of fact, the men that threw them in were consumed by the flames.  I’m sure Nebuchadnezzar stood around waiting for his decree of death to be final, but it was far from final.  He peers into the flames and sees four men loose, walking around in the midst of the fire.  Best of all, the fourth man in the fire looked like the Son of God!  God had delivered yet again!
In all of this story, what do we learn about Christ and His working in our lives?
  1. God knows your name. Thirteen times in the chapter they are called by name.  Isaiah 43 and verse one says, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine…When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee; when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned, neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. He knows our name!   In John 10:3-4 Christ said,  To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.  And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know His voice.
  2. The “faith life” is a life lived from faith to faith.  They came without hesitation before the king in verse thirteen of chapter three, because they had already stood before him in chapter 1:18.  In other words we learn to trust God more fully by trusting Him with today’s needs.
  3. God leads THROUGH, not TO.  The promise of Isaiah 43 is through trials, not only to trials.  Regardless of where you are in life and what trials you are enduring, God will take you through it, not just to it.  We have the promise of victory.
  4. Notice, that the purpose of our trials is to set us free.  They were thrown in bound and came out free.  They were thrown in on their sides but came out on their feet.  That is the purpose of our trials.  God wants to set us free from the things that bind us!
  5. The Bible says that when they were delivered that their hair was not singed and the smell of the smoke was not upon them.  Simply put,  when God leads us through the fire, we ought to make sure that the smell of the smoke is not upon us.  Lord, deliver us from ever being the ever-ready martyr.  When God delivers us from the fire, may He too deliver us from the rest of our lives huffing and puffing about what we have “endured for Jesus’ sake.”

We, too, may endure the flames, but we are never alone.  God is with us and is helping us to learn these five important things.  Let’s just go ahead and trust Him!

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