the up-side of being thrown into a furnace…

in daniel 3, there’s a story we all know. the three boys, shadrach, meshach and abednego decide not to give into peer pressure (the whole nation bowing to an idol, thousands upon thousands of people except for them) and as a reward for their unwavering commitment to righteousness, they get bound and thrown into a fire so hot that men simply standing close to it died.

as i’ve been walking through challenges the past few weeks, i’ve been thinking about this story a lot.

so much in this story speaks to me, but the crucial part for me starts in daniel 3:19…
“nebuchadnezzer ordered the furnace fired up seven times hotter than usual. he ordered strong men from the army to TIE THEM UP, hands and feet, and THROW THEM into the furnace. shadrach, meshach and abednego, BOUND HAND AND FOOT, fully dressed from head to toe, were pitched into the roaring fire.”
(emphasis added)

later on, the king freaks out when he looks in and sees four men in the fire. he double-checks with his staff to make sure how many were thrown in, then says “‘but look! i see four men, WALKING AROUND FREELY IN THE FIRE, completely unharmed! and the fourth man looks like the son of the gods!” (vs.25)

he calls out to the men and the next verses are BEAUTIFUL… “shadrach, meshach and abednego WALKED out of the fire. all the important people, the government leaders and king’s counselors, gathered around to examine them and discovered that the fire hadn’t so much as touched the three men – not a hair singed, not a scorch mark on their clothes, not even the smell of fire on them!” (vs.26b-27)

the up-side of being thrown into the furnace…

#1. freedom is found in the fire…
it amazes me, every time i read it, that strong men tied them up, hands and feet, and threw them in.
they were thrown in in bound.
they were thrown in helpless.
they were thrown in with the things the “strong men” had put on them.
they were thrown in for doing the right thing.
they were thrown in after standing in faith.

YET…the king saw them “walking around freely in the fire” and they WALKED out.
thrown in bound, walked out free.

the fire wasn’t allowed to touch them. they came out without even a hair singed (and from a fire that could kill people at a distance, that’s pretty unreal).
the only thing that was there before the fire that was NOT there after??? the bondages.
the only thing the fire consumed?? what the strong men had put on them.
the only thing the flames burned??? the ties that kept them from moving freely.

#2. the Fourth Man is in the fire…
notice, not before and not after.
in the place that was meant to destroy them, they found the Deliverer.
in the place meant to hurt them, they found the Healer.
in the place intended to finish them, they found God.

#3. faith is furnished by the fire…
those who had just invested massive amounts of money into an idol were suddenly converted into believers by what they witnessed. the testimony of those men, the miracle of them walking out without even the smell of smoke confounded the wisest, humbled the proudest and persuaded the strongest that THIS GOD was worthy of worship and allegiance.

i think God allows us to be thrown into our “furnaces” for several reasons…
He wants to deal with the things that are binding us, the things that were put onto us.
He wants to reveal Himself to us in a way we can only see in the fire.
He wants the outcome of the fire to be a testimony to those observing.

we may have been thrown in, but we WALKING out! FREELY!

so if you’re in a fire too, from one furnace-dweller to another… it’s SO worth it!! He is using it for our freedom.

go in knowing, “you will walk through the fire and NOT be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.” – isaiah 43:2

3 thoughts on “the up-side of being thrown into a furnace…

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