Tuesday, December 05, 2017

"The Ultimate Consequence"

Daniel 3.16-18 NIV

“Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, ‘O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and He will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if He does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.’”

What happens when a man or woman faces the ultimate consequence of divine obedience? Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego knew the consequence… death by burning. What an awful way to go. Were they naïve, idealistic, stupid? Or, simply willing to serve God at any cost? These young men fully expected to suffer for their decision of faith. Nothing moved them, not even Nebuchadnezzar’s death threat. Everyone else could bow before the king’s ninety foot golden statue, but they would not.

History is filled with heroes of faith who, like these young Hebrew men, faced the ultimate consequence of obedience to God. Some made it, others did not. Some were rescued by divine intervention. Others got an early one-way ticket to paradise.
  • Abraham was willing to sacrifice of his son, Isaac (Genesis 22)
  • The mother of Moses set her baby son afloat in a wicker basket (Exodus 2)
  • Daniel was thrown to the lions when he refused to stop praying (Daniel 6)
  • Esther risked her life to stand before the golden scepter of King Ahasuerus (Esther 5)
  • Nehemiah undertook the dangerous mission of rebuilding the city walls (Nehemiah 4)
  • Peter claimed “We must obey God rather than men” and kept on preaching (Acts 5)
  • Stephen chose death by stoning for his belief in Jesus Christ as Messiah (Acts 7)
  • Others were tortured, slain with swords, stoned to death, and even “sawn in two” for their faith (Hebrews 11)
Stories of martyrs inspire me. Survivors like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego also inspire me.

“…the God we serve is able to save us from it [the blazing furnace],
and He will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if He does not,
we want you to know, O king,... we will not serve your gods
or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

Jesus did not promise a life of comfort. If I think He did, I will feel betrayed when life is hard. I would rather not face any consequences for my obedience to God, certainly not the ultimate one. I’m far too comfortable for that. 

I need a shot of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego mixed with a little faith of Job...

“Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.”
Job 13.15 KJV

__________________

The beautiful watercolor painting at the top right of this post is entitled "Fiery Furnace" by biblical artist, Margrit Roussos. 

When Nebuchadnezzar peered into the fiery furnace he was amazed to find (in the king's own words) "four men loosed and walking about in the midst of the fire without harm, and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods." The traditional interpretation claims the fourth being was an angel. Perhaps it was a a pre-incarnate visitation of Jesus Christ Himself.

No comments: