Daniel 3:19-30 (Part 1) – A Fiery Furnace & A Finger on a Map: God’s Protection & Guiding Hand

Posted: May 29, 2016 in Book of Daniel

Daniel 3:19-30

The Blazing Furnace

Have you ever had a fiery furnace moment in your life? Those are the moments of life in which there is no other explanation for your deliverance from either certain death or certain defeat in some way than it being God who did it? We hear stories of how people on trial for their very lives are saved from the death penalty by a last second witness who can exonerate them. We hear stories of a person walking away from a wreck where the entire car is destroyed except for the seat and floorboard where they were sitting. We have heard stories where an employee was forced into a situation where to tell the truth would cost them their job and they end up being rewarded for their truthfulness when the company president finds out what has been going on. If we think hard enough about our past, we can find those moments in our memory where there is no other explanation that God saving us from certain destruction either physically or from destruction of our lives metaphorically speaking.

 

There are those of us who may not have these significant individual events where we are spared in some way but we do have stories of where there is no other explanation than God’s guiding hand in our lives. For Elena and me, that would have to be in how we ended up in Livermore, CA, which has to be one of the most pivotal places in our lives. I had been out in California on my own for about a year and a half when my new employer required me to quit flying home every few weeks and live permanently in California. Elena then had to decide to come live with me in California. When she did, she was able to get a transfer with her job from her company’s location in the Charlotte area to their facility in Stockton, CA. So, with me working in Santa Clara, CA which is about 60-70 miles away from Stockton, we had to find a place that was somewhere in the middle of those two cities to find us a place to live. I simply looked at Yahoo Maps for a place that was about equidistant between the two and found the town of Livermore, CA – a town that even though I had been living in the Baby area for well over a year I had never really noticed or even heard of. We found an apartment there without much problem. And it was there that our lives changed and set us on the path to where we are today. There is no other explanation that this was God’s hand. It was there in Livermore that Elena found her salvation and that I finally began growing up as a Christ follower. Even how we ended up at Livermore Alive Community Church is the stuff of God’s guiding hand after we had moved to Livermore. There is no other explanation for the sequence of events that landed us at that church. It was God. No other explanation. When I sit back and think of that sequence of events, it blows my mind. It all started with what I thought was a random town picked out on a map. It was God’s providential care of my life and that of Elena. There is no telling where we would be (or if there would have continued to be a “we” as the strain of a cross country relationship was taking its toll on us) if it were not for the requirement that I take up permanent residence in the Bay Area and the seemingly random dot on a map called Livermore.

 

This may not have been being saved from a fiery car crash. Our story may not have the flash and brilliance of someone taking a stand against evil at their office and then being miraculous delivered from certain firing. This may not be the miraculous recovery of a patient from certain death. However, it is our story and our testament to the power of God. Just thinking about the amazing things that happened in our walk with Christ as a couple and individually during that time in Livermore that prepared us for being at LifeSong Church and our lives back here in South Carolina since, it is nothing short of miraculous to me. It gives me chills when I think of putting my finger on map at the midpoint between Santa Clara and Stockton and the closest thing to it being Livermore. How important was that finger on the map. Not random to me. It was the hand of God.

 

It is an example and the stories you hear of people being miraculously saved from destruction teach us about the fact that there is a God that cares about us and that if we trust Him He will deliver us. Let us read about the fiery furnace in Daniel 3:19-30:

 

19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was furious with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and his attitude toward them changed. He ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual 20 and commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. 21 So these men, wearing their robes, trousers, turbans and other clothes, were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace. 22 The king’s command was so urgent and the furnace so hot that the flames of the fire killed the soldiers who took up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, 23 and these three men, firmly tied, fell into the blazing furnace.

 

24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?”

 

They replied, “Certainly, Your Majesty.”

 

25 He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”

 

26 Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!”

 

So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire, 27 and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.

 

28 Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. 29 Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way.”

 

30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the province of Babylon.

 

 

I think what amazes me here is that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego never wavered in their faith. They would not bow down and compromise their faith even if it meant their life. They knew that God would either physically deliver them or they would be celebrating at God’s feet in heaven after death. Wow, what confidence is that? What faith is that? They knew that God would save them or they would die and go to heaven. They did not fear death because they knew their destination. What freedom is that when we quit fearing things and begin trusting completely in God’s providence whatever that may be? In this case, it was God’s providence that they were to live and continue their influence over the Babylonian empire. They were saved by what many think was a Christophany, an appearance of the eternal Jesus Christ before He walked the earth in the flesh. They were protected. They were delivered. God was not done with them yet. These three guys though were at peace with it if God called them home at that moment. They trusted God with the outcome. How often do we obsess about the something that is about to happen on the horizon? How often do we fear dying even as Christians when we know that we are assured of a place at our Father’s feet? Why do we not live our lives without fear? Why do we live our lives like we about to lose all our toys? Why do we not trust in the Lord? Let us live lives to the max for Jesus and not to the minimum. God’s got our back. When are we going to trust that?

 

When I sit back and think on the finger on the map and see how God was guiding our lives to that pivotal place, the placed that was the necessary nurturing for where we are now. I am amazed. When I think about the intersection of that group of lives and families in Livermore at Livermore Alive Community Church I am in awe. What an amazing collection of people! And how that none of us are there in Livermore now some six years later. It was a moment in time orchestrated by God and no other. It was His providence that we were with that group of people at that place at that moment in time. That is as much a miracle to me as the fiery furnace. The finger on the map may as well been the finger of God.

 

Amen and Amen.

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