The very last sermon series I preached at the church from which I retired, was entitled ‘Those Other 3:16’s’. We all know John 3:16. But what about the other New Testament books and their 3:16 verses? It was quite a good series! Then, I wanted to preach on the 3:16’s of the Old Testament, but I had the nerve to retire first! How rude!
So, here’s a 3:16 I love from Daniel. This about Daniel’s three friends, who refuse to bow down to that obnoxious golden image. Worship it or else. These three decide to risk the ‘or else’. But no exceptions were allowed. It was death for those three.
Friends flambe’ was on the menu that day… in a terribly hot furnace that consumed even the guards who threw them in. They were toast! But not those three friends of Daniel. No way. Not only did they survive the heat of that infernal furnace, but they were never alone in the flames.
Was it Jesus with them? I wouldn’t be surprised. I’d rather be with Him when the heat starts to rise and the flames get dangerously close, than lost in the fire without Him. With Him, we can endure whatever comes our way. These three had no idea what was going to happen. None whatsoever. Would it be rescue or cremation? No idea. They admitted such to the king. Me? I’d bargain with God. ‘I’ll stand tall for you, Lord, if you get me out alive’. Their faith went way beyond bargaining.
They said, ‘O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up'(Daniel 3: 16-18). Whether we live or die, we are yours, Lord. They meant it. No question about it. Can kill the body, but they can’t touch the soul.
I wonder how we’d do under such circumstances? Bargain like me? Beg off and pretend to worship the idol but only as a bit of make-believe ? What would we do? The choice is ours to make. We’d all like to stand tall with Jesus. Not flinch at the first sign of trouble. Fearless. The reality is that not many of us are that strong. When we fail Him, when we fall down and are less than we had hoped to be, ask for His forgiveness. Let Him love on you… for the next round. Don’t give up. He doesn’t. Those three didn’t. No matter what the source of the heat we’re now in, the Lord never allows us to go through it alone. Never…
Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for always being with us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.