Points to Ponder Week of 7/23/23

This week as we consider the life of Daniel and his friends the spotlight shifts from Daniel to his three friends. They find themselves in the crosshairs of the jealousy of the wise men who could not do what Daniel did last week. So now the other wise men are beginning to look for ways to trap and attack the Hebrew advisors. Nebuchadnezzar's pride in conjunction with his dream provides for them the perfect opportunity. They observe and realize that these Hebrew men will not worship any God but their God even at the king's command. As we saw the first two weeks they are committed to not being defiled by the culture even while they understand and work within it. As the scene progresses we find the astonishing faith of Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah in which they say, “Nebuchadnezzar, we don’t need to give you an answer to this question. If the God we serve exists, then he can rescue us from the furnace of blazing fire, and he can rescue us from the power of you, the king. But even if he does not rescue us, we want you as king to know that we will not serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up.” These men throw themselves upon the mercy of God knowing that He is able to save them, but refusing to put Him in a box, are also willing to die rather than submit to any other God than the one true God.
Now it would have been nice for God to have saved them by causing an army of angels to protect them from being seized, or to have by the wind of His nostril blown out the fire like He split the red sea. However, it’s as they enter the flames that God does His work of salvation, not by keeping them out of the flames but by walking with them in the flames and guarding them by His presence. This is our God, the one who is willing to come into the flames with us, so that as we experience trials and turmoil we look around us and there is another in the fire with us. God is acquainted with our sufferings, He knows our weakness, and He is Emmanuel, God with us through it all. So whatever trial you may be facing, whatever stress or fear, whatever sickness or struggle, know that in Christ you are never alone. He is walking with you and bearing the trial you carry. He is faithful and will not abandon you but will see you through the fire. In what ways do you need to surrender the trial to Him this week? In what ways can we emulate these three Hebrew men and follow Paul’s advice in Philippians 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Be encouraged, whether in the fire or out of it, God is with you and sustains you.

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