“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword” Hebrews 4:12
During Monday Bible study, we read through Daniel Chapter 3. This was the second time that this group of amazing women read through this portion of God’s story. For many of us, we had read through before that as well. It is one of those great biblical stories that encourages us to live fearlessly in the face of opposition, secure in the knowledge of a sovereign God who is always with us.
This week something else stood out, that I had not noticed before. In my understanding of the story, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, were thrown into the furnace, and miraculously remained unharmed. In fact, the King observed that there were four in the fire not three, and one looked like a son of the gods.
“Then these men were bound in their cloaks, their tunics, their hats, and their other garments, and they were thrown into the burning fiery furnace. Because the king’s order was urgent and the furnace overheated, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell bound into the burning fiery furnace.” Daniel:21-23 (bold added by me)
The King, in his anger, had these three bound from head to toe and thrown into the fire. This wasn’t an ordinary fire, the furnace had been heated seven times hotter than normal, so hot, to get close meant to die. The ‘mighty men’ tasked with throwing them in died from the super-heated flames. But Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego didn’t die, even as those tasked with throwing them in burned, they remained unharmed. There is a lesson here as well for those who try to harm God’s people, but that’s not my point for today.
“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.” 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.” Daniel 3:24-25 (bold added by me)
As I read this, I was absolutely dumbstruck. So much is made of the fact that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were unharmed, unsinged, and untouched by the fiery furnace, “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.” Daniel 3:27 It was truly miraculous!
However, is it possible that in our excitement of God’s intervention, we missed something important? These three men were bound from head to toe and unable to walk, they were thrown into the fire. But the King saw them unbound, walking around in the midst of the fire with a fourth who has the appearance like a son of the gods. Not only was Jesus in the fire with them, but he also allowed those flames to burn away what bound them.
Let me say that again, Jesus was there in the fire with them, protecting them from harm, and removing that which bound them. God didn’t just save them from the fiery furnace, he freed them as well. Just as Jesus sacrifice on the Cross saves us from the condemnation we deserve, death; it also frees us from the destructive and oppressive hold that sin has on our lives.
“Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.” Romans 6:13-14 (bold added by me)
This is a wonderful story of salvation, a story of obedience and faith. It is an example of living and ‘even if‘ life, with our eyes firmly focused on Christ. It is also a beautiful example of what God will do for those who, ‘love him and are called according to his purpose.’
God has saved us through Jesus Christ. Part of that saving is for eternity, but it is also so that we can live free from the bondage of sin, in this life. The Apostle Paul says, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1
Christ didn’t sacrifice himself so that we could return to the lives we lived before, being bound up by the ills of this world. He sacrificed us so that not only will we spend eternity with him as co-heirs, we get to begin to enjoy that freedom, love, grace, peace, patience, kindness right here right now. The bonds of sin have been burned away! Make sure you don’t allow yourself to be bound up again.
Please help me share the good news of Jesus and how He can change your life, and our world!
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