Greetings in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. (Matthew 6:24)
During the third year of King Jehoiakim’s reign in Judah, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. The Lord gave him victory over King Jehoiakim of Judah and permitted him to take some of the sacred objects from the Temple of God. So Nebuchadnezzar took them back to the land of Babylonia and placed them in the treasure-house of his god. (Yes, sometime God allows his own people to suffer. God gave King Nebuchadnezzar victory over the Israelites, His own people.)
The king also ordered Ashpenaz, his chief of staff, to bring to the palace some of the young men of the Judah’s finest from the royal family and other noble families – good looking, strong, healthy young men. The goal was to make them serve the king. The king assigned them a daily ration of food and wine from his own kitchens. They were to be trained for three years, and then they would enter the royal service.
Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were among the chosen young men. They mined not to defile themselves by keeping their faith. God was with them. Through the power of God, they were able to keep their faith by demonstrating the power of God, and God did not stop there.
One day, after having a disturbing dream that King Nebuchadnezzar could not sleep, the king made a very unusual demand. He called in his magicians, enchanters, sorcerers, and astrologers, and he demanded that they tell him what he had dreamed without telling his dream. All of his wise men asked the king to tell what was the dream, but he continued refusing to tell his dream. Thus, they begged and told to the king “No one on earth can tell the king his dream! And no king, however great and powerful, has ever asked such a thing of any magician, enchanter, or astrologer! The king’s demand is impossible. No one except the gods can tell you your dream, and they do not live here among people.” (Daniel 2:10-11)
The king was furious when he heard this, and he ordered that all the wise men of Babylon be executed. And because of the king’s decree, men were sent to find and kill Daniel and his friends. However, God revealed the king’s dream to Daniel with the interpretation of the dream. Daniel came to the king, described the dream, and interpreted it. As soon as King Nebuchadnezzar heard the interpretation given by Daniel, the king threw himself down before Daniel and worshiped him. On the other hand, Daniel pointed to God for all of His glory. Then the king appointed Daniel to a high position to ruler over the whole province of Babylon, as well as chief over all his wise men. At Daniel’s request, the king appointed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to be in charge of all the affairs of the province of Babylon, while Daniel remained in the king’s court. The faithful Daniel and three friends were honored even by King Nebuchadnezzar.
One day, King Nebuchadnezzar made a gold statue ninety feet tall and nine feet wide and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. Then he sent messages to the high officers, officials, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates, and all the provincial officials to come to the dedication of the statue he had set up. All of them came and bowed down to the statue, but Daniel’s three friends refused to bow down. They could not worship the golden statue because it was against their faith.
Some of the some of the astrologers went to the king and informed the Jews refused to bow down to the king’s statue. Then Nebuchadnezzar flew into a rage and ordered that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be brought before him. Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you refuse to serve my gods or to worship the gold statue I have set up? I will give you one more chance to bow down and worship the statue I have made when you hear the sound of the musical instruments. But if you refuse, you will be thrown immediately into the blazing furnace. And then what god will be able to rescue you from my power?” (Daniel 3:14-15)
The king tried to be generous. He gave one more chance to do what he asked to do. He also warned; “if you refuse, you will be thrown immediately into the blazing furnace” while pointing the blazing and burning furnace next to them. What he said was neither a just threat nor coercion. It was a reality: the blazingly burning hot furnace and the furious king. The king had a real power to throw them into the furnace without any hesitance, if his order was not carried out by the three. For three friends, there were two choices: simply bowing down to the statue while temporarily compromising their faith, or being thrown into the furnace, while keeping their faith. They were able to feel the heat from the furnace even distance. If we were in this situation, what would be our choice?
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.” (Daniel 3:16-18)
Their choice was simple -- keeping their faith. They even used two scenarios to explain to the king that their decision in faith was firm. Here are the two scenarios told. Scenario 1: if we are thrown into the furnace; God rescues them from the power of the king. Case 2: if we are thrown into the furnace; our God does not rescue us. Even so, we will keep the faith.
The first scenario is that God does a miracle for the faithful friends, which is we love to hear. We often hear a testimony. A person was so sick that even doctors gave up on him. Thus, people approached to God and prayed. Then God miraculously healed the person. What an encouraging testimony is! We all are encouraged when we hear God’s miracle among our lives because God’s power is plainly visible.
How about the other case? God does not intervene with his supernatural power, and lets the faithful perish. Thus, they became martyrs, while keeping their faith. When we hear about martyrs dying in faith, how does our heart and mind respond?
In short, both build up us to grow deeper in faith. The truth is that we cannot or should not demand one or the other scenario from God. After all, what we see and touch belongs to the world, which is temporary, but what we cannot see is eternal. If we are upset about what we can see and touch because we do not receive what we expect on earth, then it explains the maturity of our faith. Who is our real master in our heart – the world or God?
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Galatians 5:24)
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