Faith will have it’s perfect work, when it is tested and refined in the fiery furnaces of life.
Many of these furnaces (trials) will not feel great. Some will be very painful. Yet, they will help refine our character by removing the impurities in our lives. How can we have the mind of Christ – by having our minds and character renewed day-by-day.
Let’s take a look at a great example of what faith looks like when it has “it’s perfect work.”
The Perfect Work Of Faith
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego’s Example of Faith’s Perfect Work
Golden Statue Set Up
Verse 1: Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was sixty cubits and its width six cubits. He set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon.
Rule Is Given
What Was Required
Verses 4 and 5: Then a herald cried aloud: “To you it is commanded, O peoples, nations, and languages, 5 that at the time you hear the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, you shall fall down and worship the gold image that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up;
Punishment if Not Obeyed
Verse 6: and whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.”
3 Men Were Brought to Nebuchadnezzar’s Attention
For Disobeying His Command
Verses 8-12: 8 Therefore at that time certain Chaldeans came forward and accused the Jews. 9 They spoke and said to King Nebuchadnezzar, “O king, live forever! 10 You, O king, have made a decree that everyone who hears the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, shall fall down and worship the gold image; 11 and whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. 12 There are certain Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego; these men, O king, have not paid due regard to you. They do not serve your gods or worship the gold image which you have set up.”
Verse 13: Then Nebuchadnezzar, in rage and fury, gave the command to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. So they brought these men before the king.
He Offers Them A Second Opportunity
Verses 14 and 15: 14 Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the gold image which I have set up? 15 Now if you are ready at the time you hear the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, and you fall down and worship the image which I have made, good! But if you do not worship, you shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you from my hands?”
They Failed Nebuchadnezzar – However, They Served God
Verses 16-18: 16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17 If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. 18 But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.”
Although Nebuchadnezzar was directing great anger towards them – these young men responded to him with calm submission due his position. They would have spoken to him as was proper (from God’s perspective) while still remaining steadfast and strong in their conviction and stand.
Nebuchadnezzar’s Rage Intensifies
Verse 19a: 19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was full of fury, and the expression on his face changed toward Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego.
His fury was greatly increased and his expression towards these 3 wise young men was changed.
Fury Extracts An Even Tougher Penalty
Verses 19b-23: He spoke and commanded that they heat the furnace seven times more than it was usually heated. 20 And he commanded certain mighty men of valor who were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, and cast them into the burning fiery furnace. 21 Then these men were bound in their coats, their trousers, their turbans, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. 22 Therefore, because the king’s command was urgent, and the furnace exceedingly hot, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. 23 And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.
For these young men, stoke the flames up by 7 times. There is absolutely no way I want them to succeed in what they presented to me.
Looking In The Furnace, Nebuchadnezzar is Astonished
Verses 24a: 24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished;
WOW! The King’s fury has now changed to astonishment. He never would have imagined anyone surviving his fury.
Didn’t We Throw 3 Men In
The God They Had Professed Faith in Earlier Met Them in the Fire
Verses 24b and 25: and he rose in haste and spoke, saying to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” 25 “Look!” he answered, “I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.”
All the fire did was set these men free from the things that had them bound. They were loose – set free in the fire. Like gold which is refined in fire – all the impurities of this life were taken from them and they were free in Christ.
So Surprised, He Asks Them To Come Out of The Fire
Verse 26: 26 Then Nebuchadnezzar went near the mouth of the burning fiery furnace and spoke, saying, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here.” Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego came from the midst of the fire.
They all learned that day that God was way stronger than Nebuchadnezzar, his statue and the fiery furnace heated up 7 times. Reminds me of a 2nd World War story that I once read, about a Polish priest who offered to take the place of a man with a family in one of the German concentration camps. They allowed the exchange. He was thrown into the gas chamber with others. He got them all to sing songs of praise and worship to God. The amazing thing about this event was that the dose of gas had to be multiplied by 10 times it’s normal strength to finally kill these people. God doesn’t always take us out of the fires but that Polish priest served God right onto his last breath and if we overcome and follow his example and the example of these 3 young men we will see them all in God’s kingdom.
They Come Out Unsinged
Verse 27: 27 And the satraps, administrators, governors, and the king’s counselors gathered together, and they saw these men on whose bodies the fire had no power; the hair of their head was not singed nor were their garments affected, and the smell of fire was not on them.
This is a miracle. Have you ever noticed, how you smell after you leave a place that has been filled with smoke. You smell smokey. However, these boys came out of the refining furnace without any scent of having been in a smokey place.
Nebuchadnezzar Praises God
Verses 28: 28 Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, who sent His Angel and delivered His servants who trusted in Him, and they have frustrated the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they should not serve nor worship any god except their own God!
This result would never have been achieved had Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego accepted the King’s second opportunity to do things his way (music plays, you bow down to my standards which are in direct opposition to God’s standard). By sticking to God’s way, Nebuchadnezzar realized that he was not stronger than or greater than God.
Nebuchadnezzar Makes a New Rule
29 Therefore I make a decree that any people, nation, or language which speaks anything amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made an ash heap; because there is no other God who can deliver like this.”
Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego are Promoted
Verse 30: 30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego in the province of Babylon.
What Can We Learn From Their Faith
God has demonstrated to us beyond doubt that He alone is worthy of our praise.
We must learn what is acceptable to Him and make the conscious choice to do those things and leave behind the things that oppose Him.
We must be prepared that our stand will involve persecution. However, with God nothing is wasted, He will take the things that happen to us and Romans 8:28 them. “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
When we take our stand to remain faithful to God there is nothing on this earth that can defeat us. If God is for us who can be against us. However, like these 3 young men we have to be prepared that our stand will lead to our death while knowing that we have the greatest reward awaiting us – being able to see Jesus as He is and to live with Him for eternity.
Let’s take Colossians 3:1-3 seriously and set our hearts on the things of God.
Colossians 3:1-3 – If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
Let’s stand firm – being totally committed to Jesus.
1 Corinthians 15:58 – 58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
Luke 9:62 – 62 But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”
If we take our stand and refuse to let this world squeeze us into its mold we will be persecuted.
2 Timothy 3:12 – Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution
1 Peter 4:12-14 – Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; 13 but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. 14 If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.
Yes we will be persecuted because Jesus’ ways are so different than the natural way that we would life without Him. However, we know that the only difference that can be made in this world is living differently – we can not solve the earth’s moral dilemmas on our own – we need a Saviour and King who will change us from the inside out.
James 1:2-4 – 2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
Romans 5:1-5 – Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. 2 Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. 3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. 5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.
To be part of the change, bringing others to Christ, we must live differently than those without Christ do so they can see the benefit of coming to Him. Let’s do all we can, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to be ambassadors of the life of Christ and allow our faith to grow.
A Final Comforting Word
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).
WE HAVE A PROMOTION COMING IF WE WILL LET FAITH HAVE IT’S PERFECT WORK IN OUR LIVES.