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August 27, 2013

THE GEORGIA CAPITOL DEVOTIONAL - 27 August 2013

While the account of the prophet Daniel in the lions’ den is a favorite Bible story for children, the third chapter of the book of Daniel is also a well-known section in the Bible. Daniel 2 concluded with the prophet and his three friends (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego) being exalted to a position of authority and privilege in Babylon. Unfortunately, people and events have a habit of changing for the worse in this life, and thus, one reads in Daniel 3:1 that “the times, they are a-changin’.”

King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon decided to erect a colossal, golden image. To make matters even worse, everyone in the Babylon kingdom was commanded to “fall down and worship” the pagan image. Having committed themselves to the Lord God, only three did not bow in worship. The consequence for obeying God and not man was that they were “cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire.”

Expecting to see the men perish in the flames, Nebuchadnezzar was astounded and stood hastily, remarking, “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!” The statement that there was one like the Son of God in the midst of the fire with the three men is a reminder to all believers that God draws near to his faithful in times of testing and tribulations (cf. 1 Pet 4:12, 19).

Nebuchadnezzar knew nothing concerning the Son of God—the Lord Jesus Christ—but he did know that the fourth person who he saw in the fire looked supernatural (the appearance is 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.

Faithfulness is always the duty of God’s people; it is the Lord’s part to decide (in his good providence) how He will accomplish the consequences of our faithfulness. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego never questioned whether they should be faithful; it was not, "well, if we are faithful, we may die," the only option for the believer is always faithfulness. Daniel's friends only needed to discern what would be faithfulness, and it was not disobeying the first and second commandment. How that would work in God’s providence was not their concern (nor is the outcome of faithfulness ours): we trust in the Lord!

Just like Daniel's friends, our concern in life is how to be faithful. When you truly believe that God has tremendous concern for his people, 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 his people. A persevering faith in God will manifest itself in a persevering faithfulness to God.

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; . . . Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right (1 Peter 4:12, 19).

Interim Bible Study

REMINDER: next Tuesday (3rd of September) is

the monthly (interim) Capitol Commission Bible study

Room 123 CAP, Georgia Capitol, @ 12 Noon