I love studying Scripture because it changes me moment by moment as it echoes through my heart. Sanctification, while hard, is worth it. I’m increasingly learning that life is not about being protected, it’s about living for Christ’s fame.
I’m currently studying the book of Daniel with my Frontline small group and it’s amazing. I was excited to have the opportunity to study Daniel, and as part of a Beth Moore study, nonetheless (after just a week of participating, I HIGHLY recommend her studies)! I’ve read through Daniel several times while reading through the Bible but I’m also learning that there’s a huge difference between just reading the Bible and actually tearing it apart verse by verse, looking up the meanings of the individual words in the original language, understanding the culture to which it was written, and finally, applying it to my own life.
On Sunday we studied Daniel chapter 3. The Old Testament is incredible and it’s relevance to my life never ceases to amaze me. The book of Daniel emphasizes that a.) even the bad things that happen to us are filled with purpose, b.) following God requires that we do not follow the crowd, c.) our lives are not our own, d.) God does great things with us when we resolve in our hearts to live a life that is pleasing to Him, and e.) if it’s God’s will to rescue, He WILL rescue, regardless of what we need to be rescued from.
The story in Daniel 3 really spoke to my heart this week. Why? Because there is so much promise in these verses. I’ve been going through a rough time spiritually and emotionally and this story really helped me to fix my eyes on Christ and motivated me to set my heart and resolve to not be moved by my circumstances and to live a life pleasing to God.
I encourage you to read all of Daniel 3, but to catch you up, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to bow down to King Nebuchadnezzar’s gold idol. As a result of their stand and their allegiance to God, they were thrown into a fiery furnace… and here’s what happened next:
“Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” 25 He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.” (some translations say “like the Son of God”)
26 Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the door of the burning fiery furnace; he declared, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here!” Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out from the fire. 27 And the satraps, the prefects, the governors, and the king’s counselors gathered together and saw that the fire had not had any power over the bodies of those men. The hair of their heads was not singed, their cloaks were not harmed, and no smell of fire had come upon them. 28 Nebuchadnezzar answered and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set aside the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God. 29 Therefore I make a decree: Any people, nation, or language that speaks anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be torn limb from limb, and their houses laid in ruins, for there is no other god who is able to rescue in this way.” 30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the province of Babylon.” (emphasis my own)
I love specifically verse 27 – the fire “had not had any power” and only their bonds were burned – they were bound when they went into the fire and then were walking around in the fire – it consumed what bound them. And when they were delivered from the fire, they didn’t even SMELL like smoke. So amazing. What an incredible God we serve.
I’ve loved Isaiah 43:1-2 for a long time now:
“But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.'”
He doesn’t say “if” you walk through fire, He says “when.” I’m learning more and more that life isn’t about God protecting us – our life should be all about living for His fame. Just like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, we need to resolve to throw our whole lives into the call of God and into following His Word.
So do we pray for protection? Sure, but first and foremost we pray that He’ll use us for His glory! The end result of these men being thrown into the fire was that the name of God was proclaimed throughout the entire Babylonian empire! What an incredible thing.The name of God was raised higher than any other god served in the land and I’m sure that the story of the deliverance of these men spread far and wide. How amazing would it be if God were to use a situation in your life or in my life to make His name great? It’s His desire each and every single day.
I’m praying that I’ll see the purpose in this season. It’s felt hot. It’s been smokey and confusing most days. But I know that God is with me and I know that He’s leading me through the fire (even though it’s nothing like what these men walked through). I’m so thankful for the encouragement found in Scripture and so very thankful for the process of sanctification.