God's protective hand.
God's Protective Hand
“If this is so, our God whom we serve can deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have sent up.”
What happens when our worse fear becomes a reality? More often than not, the things we fear and become anxious about fail to materialize. How many times do we needlessly worry about what is only what we fabricated in our thinking? The two things perhaps we fear the most are death and rejection. We want to be included in the crowd. But sometimes, the things we fear the most become a reality, and it shakes our faith.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were confronted with their worst fear. They were forced to bow down to the image of Nebuchadnezzar and worship him as a god. If they refused, they would be burned alive in a fiery furnace. To further add to the pressure, all their friends, neighbors, and other people around them were submitting to the edict. To refuse would set them apart from the crowd and isolate them from the people around them.
When the music started to play for the people to bow before the golden idol, everyone around them paid homage to Nebuchadnezzar. Yet the three friends stood alone. It is easy to stand firm in our faith and convictions when it is popular and accepted by the masses. However, standing firm when you stand alone is quite another thing. Today the teaching of scripture regarding morality is increasingly being ridiculed and attacked. To remain faithful to the teaching of scripture is to be labeled and condemned. The pressure is increasing; either bow to the gods of postmodernism or face alienation and rejection.
The pressure of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego was intense. They not only faced alienation from the rest of society, they even faced a certain and horrible death. When they were forced to leave Jerusalem and were marched to Babylon, their greatest fear would have been the pressure to reject the God of Israel and worship the gods of the Babylonians. They would be confronted with the fear of death if they did not compromise.
Now, their greatest fear has become a reality. Faced with the decision to either compromise or die, most people chose the former. However, there was no choice for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They would stand firm in their faith in God. Having been taught the stories of God’s deliverance of the former people of faith, people like Abraham, Moses, and David, they knew that God could miraculously deliver them from even the power and threat of Nebuchadnezzar. However, they also knew that God allowed his followers to face persecution and even death.
Nevertheless, they trusted in the will of God. No matter the outcome, obeying God was far better than compromising their soul to save their skin. Physical death is temporary, spiritual death is eternal, and the fool is the one who gives up the eternal for the temporary. Thus they made their decision: They would obey God and trust God for the outcome.
We face the same question as we continue to meet the pressure to compromise the truth of scripture to gain society's acceptance. How will we respond with our greatest fear is realized? Will we doubt and question God? Will we compromise our faith to relieve the pressure? Will we reject the Bible to follow the whims of people? Or will we remain faithful to God and trust him for the outcome?
God is both sovereign and good. While we may now know or even understand why we face trials and struggles, we can be assured that God will deliver and protect his people. God’s protective hand never fails. While he may allow us to face uncertainty in the present and even the reality of death, our eternal future is secure. He promises that he will protect us, whether protecting us through the trial or delivering us from the trial.