Which Fiery Furnace Will You Choose?
Therefore at that time certain Chaldeans came forward and maliciously accused the Jews. They declared to King Nebuchadnezzar, "O king, live forever! You, O king, have made a decree, that every man who hears the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, shall fall down and worship the golden image. And whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast into a burning fiery furnace. There are certain Jews whom you have appointed over the affairs of the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These men, O king, pay no attention to you; they do not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up." Daniel 3:8-12 ESV
There is a great irony. Those who bowed down to the idol feared being cast into the fiery furnace. Why then didn’t the three Jewish men bow down? It is because they saw into the spiritual realm. They saw the situation through the eyes of faith. They knew that if they bowed down to the image, they would be in danger of a far worse fiery furnace. It’s all a matter of which [G]od they feared.
“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. 32 So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, 33 but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 10:28-33 ESV
Jesus told his committed disciples that even the hairs of their head were all numbered. That was another reference to Daniel 3:
“And the satraps, the prefects, the governors, and the king's counselors gathered together and saw that the fire had not had any power over the bodies of those men. The hair of their heads was not singed, their cloaks were not harmed, and no smell of fire had come upon them.”
Daniel 3:27 ESV [italics mine]
But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”
Revelation 21:8 ESV
Today we face the same life-and-death decision as the Babylonians and three Jewish men. We can now down before other gods (demons) by surrendering to fear, lust, anger, and pride, or we can surrender our lives to Jesus Christ.
And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels." Mark 8:34-38 ESV
The Babylonians tried to “save their lives” by bowing down to the image with the pop music of the day in the background. It was the way that seemed cultural, popular, appealing, right, safe, convenient, and comfortable. Ironically and tragically, by so doing they risked losing their lives eternally; for idolaters, the cowardly, the sexually immoral, etc. will spend eternity in the lake of fire. The three Jewish men pledged and proved their allegiance to the One True God by their obedience to their True King, because they knew their God and knew their identity (who they were) in Him. By “losing their lives” for His sake, they did not perish but had eternal life.
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." John 3:14-16 ESV
Every day we must repent, deciding each day if we will live to glorify God or live to gratify ourselves. (1)
"And he [Jesus] said to all, 'If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me."
Luke 9:23 ESV [italics mine]
"And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent." John 17:3 ESV
Since eternal life is a long-term (eternal) relationship with God, tending to that relationship is a daily matter. A married couple has one wedding/anniversary date for when they started their lifelong commitment, but it requires daily or continual friendship, love, loyalty, submission, trust, cooperation, communication, and intimacy in order for that relationship to work out more successfully and beautifully.
If you would like to receive this gift of eternal life of a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ, then the following is just a suggested prayer for you to pray aloud if it expresses the desire of your heart:
I want to know You personally. I confess that I have rebelled against You and deserve to be separated from You forever. I have rejected a relationship with You through my idolatrous (excessive) people-pleasing, cowardliness, fear, anger, lust, pride, and my every attitude of sinful self-preservation. Therefore I ask You to have mercy on me, a sinner.
I thank You for sending Jesus Christ to bring me into a relationship with You. Thank You that Jesus died for all my sins on the cross, so that You can forgive me for all my rebellion against You. I trust Your Word, that although I deserved Your wrath, You instead poured out all our wrath for my sin upon Jesus on the cross. Thank you for Your gracious gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, which I receive right now as I believe Your Word. Right now I confess with my mouth that ‘Jesus is Lord’ and believe in my heart that You raised him from the dead. According to Your promises in Your Word, I thank you that You have now saved me from your wrath, forgiven all my sin, and brought me into a personal relationship with You.
As I commit to follow you, Jesus, with my whole life, make me into the person you want me to be.
In Jesus’ name,
Here are only a few of the steps for growth in your new relationship with God.
Read his Word (the Bible) daily and obey it. See Romans 12.
As a married couple would do, communicate regularly with God about the health of your relationship. Ask Him how You can love Him more and better as You submit to His perfectly loving and unselfish leadership. That takes trust, but the healthy, growing, deepening relationship can’t work without it. See Ephesians 5.
Make healthy friendships with other believers in Jesus who are wholly committed to loving God with all their hearts, souls, minds, and strength. See Hebrews 10.
Connect with spiritual leaders who honor the Holy Spirit of God, hate sin and demons, love people, and are committed to rescuing people from the sin’s evil clutches. See 1 Peter 5.
If you consider me or my blog posts to be helpful for you in these areas, please don’t hesitate to ask me any questions you have in your spiritual journey as we seek to pursue and honor God under His leadership.
“Will I live today to glorify God (honoring His reputation by reflecting His character), or will I live to gratify myself?” The essence of this daily question to ask I heard from Keith Banks on Friday, 6-22-18, at Canaan Praise Church in Sapporo, Japan.