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Saturday, April 20, 2013

But If Not...

English: A hilltop view of the ancient city of...
English: A hilltop view of the ancient city of Babylon, where King Nebuchadnezzar II, whose life spanned 630-562 B.C., built his hanging gardens, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I take issue with people who expect to sail through life without any bumps or bruises. They are often new Christians who expect a cloud of protection to shield them from the evil and dangers in the world. Neither the teaching of Jesus nor the Bible message promises  that. 

The world is a place where evil in the person of  Satan still exists. Satan's power and influence is everywhere. Politics, business, education, even in the Church, we can find evidence of Satan's evil. In the Book of Daniel chapter 3 there is a powerful story of Satan's attempt to malaign and destroy the Jewish people, but in the end, it reveals God provision and protection.

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednigo were three young Jews who were taken into captivity by the Babylonians under King Nebuchadnezzar. They were smart and diligent and the King wanted to use them in his administration. His clerks and officials did not like the Jews so they came up with a test of loyalty that would eliminate the pesky Jews. Satanic influence is present: The officials were subject to it as well as the King himself. Nebuchadnezzar had ordered to be erected in the plain a huge golden statue of himself. He issued a decree that whenever the parade music played by the musical instruments summoned all the people, they were to pay tribute to him by falling upon their faces and giving worship to the gold image. Nebuchadnzzar coveted the praise and worship of others and Satan liked that.

The astrologers and soothsayers noticed that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego did not follow the stated law that all were to pay homage and worship to Nebuchadnezzar so they whispered it in his ear that his chosen servants are not completely serving as he had ordered. Nebuchadnezzar was furious. How dare they ignore his command!

When they came before him, he had calmed down, and he asked this, "Is it true that you do not worship my gods or the image I have erected? If you so do now, all is well, but if you don't, you will be committed to the furnace immediately. Then what God will save you?"

"We don't even need to respond to the question, your Majesty. We believe our God is able to deliver us, but even is he does not, we want you to know that we will not worship your gods or the golden image of yourself."

Nebuchadnezzar ordered the furnace to be heated to excess and the three young Jewish men to be bound and thrown in wearing the same clothes they had on. The soldiers who performed the duty were the strongest in the army, but they died from the heat. 

Nebuchadnezzar looked to see his victory, but he was disappointed. He saw Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the flames with another who looked like a son of the gods. They were healthy and strong and not touched by the flames. Nebuchadnezzar called to them to come our of the furnace. Satan's designs were defeated. Their deliverance was an opportunity to witness to the power of God and even Nebuchadnezzar gave glory to God.

When do you say "But if not"--When do you look for help from friends or family but know there is no help but God? Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out of the furnace, but they went in watching the men who put them there die. 
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