The Integrity of the Humble - Part 3 of 3

by Wayne Barber

Wayne BarberWe must remember that we are in covenant with God through His Son Jesus Christ. A traditional step of entering into covenant between two men involved cutting their wrists and putting them together with a rope around their arms. They would say their vows in this very solemn and sober position. When they had said their vows they would then put a powder into the cut which would form a scar. Everywhere they would go they would be marked as being in covenant with someone. You pick on one and you've just picked on the other.

Don't ever mess with God's people because in doing so you are messing with Him. Ask Paul! He had been persecuting Christians and on the Damascus Road God stopped him in his tracks and said "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?" (Acts 9:4). We see this beautifully pictured in our story of the three faithful Israelites: "But these three men, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, fell into the midst of the furnace of blazing fire still tied up" (Dan. 3:23). It looks mighty bleak for these young men who have determined to obey God no matter what! But, something happens here that not only blew Nebuchadnezzar's mind but showed him very clearly that he was up against an omnipotent, all-powerful God who stands with His covenant People.

"Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astounded and stood up in haste; he said to his high officials, Was it not three men we cast bound into the midst of the fire?' They replied to the king, Certainly, O king'"(v. 24). Nebuchadnezzar is not certain what he is seeing with his own eyes. "Didn't we just throw three men into this fire?" "What's the matter, Neb? You losing it?"

"He said, Look! I see four men loosed and walking about in the midst of the fire without harm, and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods!'"(v. 25). Oh, folks! If this doesn't excite you nothing will in God's Word! We are not "isolated" from the persecution of the proud but we are "insulated" in the midst of it!

Nebuchadnezzar sees that they are without harm in the midst of a fire that is seven times as hot as it is supposed to be! He sees that they had been tied up but now they are loose, walking around in the fire. Oh, folks, when you go through the persecution of life brought on by the "ugly proud," the only thing that will burn will be the thing that binds you!

The fires of persecution are the purifying fires that burn off the binding power of our flesh. But not only that: when we are in the fire; when we suffer the rage of those who want to be served, we are not alone!Nebuchadnezzar didn't know what you and I know-that the fourth man, who he said "was like a son of the gods," was Christ in the Old Testament! He was with them in the midst of the fire and He is in us!

That's why Paul said in 2 Corinthians 4 that "we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body" (4:7). So, people see that it's not us but the One who lives in us!

The lost are more affected by Who they see in us than by what they hear from us."Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the door of the furnace of blazing fire; he responded and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, come out, you servants of the Most High God, and come here!' Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out of the midst of the fire" (v. 26). Can you just imagine what the court must have thought when they saw these three men walk out of the white-hot fire, totally unscathed by its heat? "The satraps, the prefects, the governors and the king's high officials gathered around and sawthat the fire had no effect on the bodies of these men nor was the hair of their head singed, nor were their trousers damaged, nor had the smell of fire even come upon them" (v. 27). Only that which bound them was burned off.

Their perception of who these men were and of the God whom they served completely changed. "Nebuchadnezzar responded and said, "Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent His angel and delivered His servants who put their trust in Himand yielded up their bodies so as not to serve or worship any god except their own God" (v. 28). Nebuchadnezzar realized that what had just happened was purely supernatural and only the Most High God could have done it.

As a result of their faithfulness, not only were they saved from the fire and the wrath of the king, but the captivity of their whole nation was made more bearable (see vv. 29-30).

Friends, we are not isolated from the fires of persecution that come from those who want us to bow to them and to their god; but we are insulated in the midst of it and we are never alone!

Wayne Barber is senior pastor of Hoffmantown Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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