As we grew and came to know the Lord in a personal way, many of us began to experience pressure being applied on our walk with God by the world, the flesh, and the devil. Most of us have come to understand the truth that this thing called the Christian life is difficult! We have found that we are at odds with the world and how they live, Rom. 12:2. We are at odds with the devil and what he wants, 2 Pet. 5:8. We are even at odds with the flesh we live in and what it wants to do, Gal. 5:17.
With all of this conflict, there comes the temptation to conform to all the influences around us and go the way of the world, the flesh and the devil. And, that is what much of the so-called Christian community is doing! We see churches, homes, families, and individuals who have left the high road of separation and have sold out to the world, the flesh and the devil. That is why this story about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego is so needed in our day. These men teach us the valuable lesson that it is possible to be on fire for God when most of those around us are headed for the fires of Hell. Friends, where there is genuine faith in Jesus Christ, there is fire! Our enemies, the world, the flesh, and the devil will try to extinguish our flames and mold us in their image, but we can live for God! We can stand and we can be on fire for God in these days.
Be Different – The context. Evidently, Nebuchadnezzar had not been content with Daniel’s interpretation in chapter 2, and he wanted to establish his kingdom forever. So, he made an image of solid gold. He set himself up as a god to be worshiped. His decree was for all men to bow. Those who didn’t were to be sentenced to death by fire in a furnace. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego faced a serious dilemma. There were temptations they had to overcome in three specific areas. By the way, these are the same areas also faced by the child of God in our world today:
To Guard Their Positions – There was the temptation to look after self in this matter and guard their personal interests. They may have been tempted to say, “After all, we are in positions of great influence in the kingdom, 2:49. Who knows what we can accomplish for God? But, if we get ourselves killed, we will be of no use them.”
To Avoid Persecution – According to verse 6, anyone who refused to bow was to be burned! No one relishes the thought of that happening to them. They may have been tempted to say, “A living dog is better than a dead lion! Isn’t it better to be a living coward than a dead hero? Besides, that furnace looks like a painful way to go. Surely God does not intend for His children to suffer like that!”
To Conform To Their Peers – There was the temptation for them to be like everyone else. Perhaps there was the temptation to say, “After all, all the other people here are bowing. What’s it going to hurt? I will just bow on the outside, but I’ll be standing in my heart.” Whether they faced such temptations or not is purely a matter of speculation. However, you and I certainly do think in the manner I just illustrated. We have a tendency to seek that which is best for self in any situation. While that may be true, if we want to make an impact for God in the world around us, then we must be different! Notice how these three men were different in their day. The same needs to be true concerning every child of God today!
Be Separated – These three men were willing to be different from everyone else who was around them. There aren’t many in this day who are willing to be different. Yet, this is just what we need in our day! Think about it. Who wants to be called weird? That’s why people follow the fads in hairstyles and clothing. That’s why everyone learns the newest terms and hip expressions. That’s why millions get hooked on the same television shows. We don’t want to be different! We all want to know the same things, look the same, talk the same and act the same as everyone else around us. Nobody wants to be different! But, that’s just what the Lord has called us to be, 2 Cor. 6:17! God wants His people to look different, to talk different, to dress different, to think different, to walk different, to act differently than the lost world around us. He wants us to be separated! In fact, He wants us to be so different, to stand out so much that we draw the world’s attention to Him, Matt. 5:13-16. God really does want us to be a “peculiar people”, Titus 2:4.
Take A Stand – While everyone else in Babylon was bowing before Nebuchadnezzar’s idol, these three men were standing straight as arrows. Why not just “Bow and repent?” Millions do that every day! Not these men! They had made up their minds that they would not bow and they didn’t! Certainly, their’s is a good example for believers in this age! There are some things that are wrong! It doesn’t matter who may be for them, they are still wrong, and we need to make up our minds that we will take a stand against that which is wrong and for that which is right. God’s call for us is that we stand, 1 Cor. 15:58; Eph. 6:10-18. The church needs to realize that there are still some precious things that are worth standing for, and some wicked things worth standing against!
If you want to get on fire for God, Be Different! Let’s face it, there are times when we are faced with the fire! Sometimes, if we were honest, we would have to admit that we backed down instead of facing the flame. Maybe that describes you! If so, you can come to the Lord today and get forgiveness for those things and take your stand with Him. Others may be in the fire even as I am speaking. Jesus is there with you! Have you met Him in there yet? If you need to seek His face and His help for your furnace, now is the time to come to Him. Others of you are more like Neb than you are the three Hebrews. By that I mean, you only have a nodding acquaintance with God. You know Who He is, but you do not have a relationship with Him. Friend, you just need to be born-again. Wherever this message has found you today, you need to deal with it before the Lord.