“Now if you are ready when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe and every kind of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, well and good. But if you do not worship, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?” Daniel 3:15
Wow! Is anybody else noticing a pattern here? “Who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?” Now where have we heard that before? Hmmmm… Oh Yeah! Just two days ago from the mouth of the king of Assyria, Sennacherib! It’s almost as if it’s not the kings saying it, but perhaps someone behind them. Someone… sinister and evil, and hell-bent on driving God’s people to extinction… someone devilish like, oh I don’t know, Satan perhaps?
You see, Satan is doing his utmost best to destroy us. But what Satan intends for our destruction, God intends for our GOOD. In today’s reading we find the beloved story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Three men of God, friends of Daniel’s, who refused to bow to the pressure of the king.
Yesterday we talked about the pressure that Daniel had to withstand in order to “just say no” to the king’s food and now today we find his friends (who also resisted the king’s food) in an even bigger pickle than before. Before it was just the food that they were eating, that was a big test at the time. But this, this was WAAAAY bigger than food. This was bowing to an enormous idol. And not doing so would result in death by fire! I mean, what food to eat, that’s one thing. But worshiping another god, that’s just unthinkable!
Or is it?
We tend to do it every day without ever giving it another thought. In Who Do You Trust I talked about some of the idols that we worship (money, doctors, medicine a hospital); the things or people that we place our trust in to save us from our difficult situations.
Let’s take Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego for instance. They could have bent under the peer pressure and done what EVERY OTHER Hebrew there was doing to save their own skin and they could have bowed and worshiped the golden idol. But they didn’t do that.
They were friends with Daniel, who at this point had risen pretty high in the ranks among the king’s officials. They could have played their friend card with Daniel and tried to use his influence to get out of this situation. But they didn’t do that either.
Under the greatest of pressure they didn’t cave and they didn’t compromise, they trusted in God. Period. They stood firm in their faith. Which was no easy task, I might add!
“And Samson said, ‘Let me die with the Philistines.’ Then he bowed with all his strength and the house fell upon the lords and upon the people who were in it. So the dead whom he killed at his death were more than those whom he had killed during his life.” Judges 16:30
-Turn to Judges 13 and the story of Samson so that you can read along.
-What is Samson’s mother not to eat? “drink no ______ or ______ drink, and eat nothing ______” Why? “for the child shall be a ______ to ______ from the womb to the day of his death.”
-Manoah never doubted the word of the Lord, how can we draw strength from his story? What notes can we take that might lead us to walk with more faith in our own lives?
-God’s name is Wonderful and He is the God of wonders, what does that mean to you personally?
-What “inciting incidents” have occurred in your life lately? What “horrible things” have been done or have happened to you that may be leading you down an unexpected road to Egypt in order to save lives?
-The Israelites bound Samson and gave him over to the Philistines, how is that any different than killing him themselves? If you hire a hit man to kill someone, you are still found guilty of murder, though you didn’t commit the murder yourself. Think about this in a spiritual sense, as a brother or sister in Christ, have you ever bound someone and handed them over to the Enemy? Has anyone ever done that to you? How would that happen anyway?
-“then the Spirit of the LORD rushed upon him and the ropes that were on his arms became as flax that has caught fire, and his bonds melted off his hands.” The imagery of this verse calls me back to Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace. They too were bound hand and foot when they were thrown into the fire, yet when they emerged their clothes nor their hair smelled like smoke. The only change to their appearance was that the ropes that had bound them had been burned off. Have you been bound and thrown into a furnace of life? Know this, the angel of the LORD – Jesus, is with you in that fire. In what ways has His presence been with you and comforted you in this time?
-How are your bindings being burned off?
-What things in your life do you see as useless that God may be trying to use for your good?
-Know this, YOU are not useless. I am learning that this is the Enemy’s ploy against us. Satan wants us to believe that we are useless in the eyes of the LORD, yet nothing could be further from the Truth. We are God’s own flesh and blood and Spirit and so much more valuable to Him than we could ever think or imagine. Believe this, God wants to use you in a mighty way my friend. Perhaps through this very circumstance that life is handing you now…
-The Israelites as they came out of Egypt and were stuck between the Red Sea and the Egyptian army, they saw no hope for life. They saw no way out of the mess they were in. They said to Moses, “were there not enough graves in Egypt that you brought us out here to die”. Little did they know or understand that they were on the verge of the largest miracle they had ever or would ever see. They didn’t know that their God could part the sea; He had never done that before. All they knew was what was right in front of them, trouble headed their way and fast. But Moses, he looked to God. The One who makes ways where there are no ways. The One who sees and the One who Saves. This place that you’re in, where it looks hopeless and deadly, are you standing on the edge of the Red Sea on the verge of parting? Is God, perhaps, about to do something that He’s never done before? Raise your eyes above your circumstances. He is with you and not against you. And because God is with you then WHO or WHAT can be against you? Like Samson ripping the gates off the hinges at Hebron, is God about to rip some closed doors open for you, part some sea, light up a new path?
-Delilah was desperate to discover the source of Samson’s great strength, but we know it don’t we?
-The Spirit of the LORD is our great strength as well! Delilah has told these lords over and over again that she knew the source of Samson’s strength, only to have it be discovered that she did not. Yet she did not give up in seeking his source of strength. She was persistent in a way that many of us can glean from today. Because the very thing that she was seeking is something, someONE whom we are told to seek while He still can be found. We too should seek after the gift of the Holy Spirit diligently, because God is willing and generous in the gifting of the Holy Spirit!
-It is significant that the story mentions Delilah tormenting him before his strength left him. What does 1 John 4:18 tells us about torment and strength?
The love that it speaks of is God’s agape, unconditional, love. Not our love for Him, His love for us. In His love for us there is no fear. Rather, when we are focused on His infinite love for us, His love causes our fears to flee.
-Was Samson’s weakened state permanent?
Neither is our own state of emergency. It is not permanent, it is but a brief and momentary trouble, and it will not last forever. Praise be to God!
-The Philistine lords called Samson in to “entertain” them; they called him in so that they could mock him and torment him. Is this very thing that causes their demise?
On the day that Jesus died on the cross the Enemy mocked Him and spit at Him, yet it was this very thing that caused Satan’s demise as well. And the very same is true for us. The Enemy taunts and mocks us like the Philistines mocked Samson and like Goliath mocked David. However, the very rock he uses to trip us is the rock we use to slay him! Satan has no power over you!