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July 17, 2012

THE GEORGIA CAPITOL DEVOTIONAL - 17 JULY 2012

Daniel 3 provides a depiction of testing that God’s people have endured throughout the ages. What is remarkable to note is the reaction of King Nebuchadnezzar to those who were faithful to God. According to Daniel 3:19, he was filled with wrath and his facial expression was altered toward them. One would think that such boldness would have commanded some respect from Nebuchadnezzar, but instead we read that he gave the command “to heat the furnace seven times more than it was usually heated.” He was absolutely enraged, but it is understandable.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego completely damaged the king’s attempts to demonstrate how great and sovereign he thought himself to be. Suddenly, certain Jews whom he had appointed over the administration of the province of Babylon were saying, “worship or die . . . then, die it is, for we will not disobey our great and sovereign God, who alone bears the nature of greatness and sovereignty.”

The testing these men experienced reminds us how utterly helpless and hopeless we can be sometimes as we are faithful to God. Sometimes God calls us into ministry or service and it seems that none of our efforts will make a difference (and sometimes they will not, as with the ministries of the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah, for example). Sometimes the odds against God’s faithful are overwhelmingly against us. However, those are times that the glory and grace of God far surpasses anything we could imagine.

Notice something else from Daniel 3:25. King Nebuchadnezzar was astounded and stood in haste, and said, “Look! I see four men loosed and walking about in the midst of the fire without harm, and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods!” There was one like the Son of God in the midst of the fire, reminding us that God draws near to His faithful in times of testing and tribulations.

Nebuchadnezzar knew nothing of the Son of God—the Lord Jesus Christ—but he did know that the fourth person who he saw in the fire looked supernatural (which was very likely the preincarnate Christ). Jesus Christ was personally present in the furnace of fire with these three young Jewish men. Is it not fitting that Christ should be personally present with them? Nebuchadnezzar asked, “What god . . . can deliver you out of my hands?” The only God who could accomplish that deliverance appeared personally.

Our responsibility is to be faithful to God. The Lord’s good pleasure is to decree how He will accomplish the consequences of our faithfulness. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego never questioned whether they should be faithful; the only option to them was always faithfulness, regardless of the outcome. They only needed to discern what would be faithfulness, which for them was not disobeying the first and second commandment. How that would work in God’s providence was not their concern. All they had to do was be faithful. When you truly believe that God has tremendous concern for those who belong to Him, then you can stop worrying with regard to the events of life, because your focus, the priority of your life, is upon the God who you trust and who loves and cares for those who belong to Him. A persevering faith in God will manifest itself in a persevering faithfulness to God.

Let us keep persevering "toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Phil 3:14).

Yours in Christ Jesus,

Ron J. Bigalke, Ph.D.
Pastor/Missionary, Capitol Commission
ron.bigalke@capitolcom.org
www.capitolcom.org