My name is Jessica. I remember for a grade school class assignment asking my parents how they chose it. Their response? “Because we liked it.” Nothing heroic, or poetic about it – nothing other than, “We like the way it sounds.” I remember walking away from that conversation a bit let down (sorry Mom and Dad, my feelings have since changed). I remember thinking, why couldn’t my name be Veronica – only beautiful people carry that name, or Scarlett – something refined, or elegant (they must have known that was not me 😊), or right now I’m lovin’ the name Betsy – why not something spunky, like that?
Why Jessica, common ordinary Jessica – the same name that every other parent of girls born around the same year chose for theirs. Think I’m kidding? Two other girls in my small-town class bore the same requiring me to not only be known as Jessica – but Jessica L, unless your name has been tagged with the first initial of your last name, you don’t understand the cringe that it sends down your spine…
Names are important.
I have four kids. In naming my own, we did research, and put lots of thought into our selection. Ultimately, we picked the ones we liked the sound of which seems to be a common thought pattern of many parents today.
Biblical times however, significance was placed on their meaning. Knowing this is important as we learn more about the fiery faith of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
Background reading: Daniel 3
Let’s pretend for a moment that we are them. Can you imagine what it must have been like to stand before King Nebuchadnezzar, the intensity of his eyes, and the heat from that furnace? The thoughts that must have raced through their minds are probably similar to what would race through our own; “Why this?”, “Is there another way?”, “I don’t want THIS!”
Can you imagine standing where they stood and possessing the ability to declare unwavering faith?
It’s ok if you can’t – that’s the purpose of this study, to reveal to you that the strength they possessed, that God is still willing to walk through fire with his people. AND not only that but he’s waiting to do it – with YOU. The relevance of their experience and its application to our lives is empowering when time is taken for intentional study. In it we find what we thought was superhuman ability is totally and completely available strength within the reach of all God’s people.
The importance of a name
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are Babylonian names.
These men were Hebrew. Their given names were; Hananiah, which meant “Gracious,” Mishael, which meant “Who is what God is,” Azariah, which meant, “Yah has helped.”
Three beautiful names pointing to the One True God they served. Their Babylonian captures understood this, and they too placing much emphasis on a name and determined to integrate them into their culture forced this change in hopes that eventually their life would match what their name declared.
At this point you may struggle to find the modern connection as you think to yourself, your name has never been changed, and you’ve not been held in captivity. My challenge to you is that we do in fact experience something similar, although much less obvious as the Enemy attempts to disconnect us from the faith we profess and shackle us by placing us in front of the same gauntlet of fear where Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego once stood. His bid is the same in its purpose to cause us to forget the God we serve. His desire too is to integrate us into the same culture of deception in which so many in this world now dwell as he begs us to forget the name we bear and replace it with names of our culture.
What sort of names?
Your marriage isn’t happy, or that other man just makes you feel appreciated – you entertain thoughts of adultery as he begins to call you, Adulteress.
Or maybe you’re not married yet, but you know that person is so special, and you think undoubtedly, you’re going to marry him anyway so what’s the hurt – and there you sit entertaining those tempting thoughts as he begins to call you, Fornicator.
Or maybe you’ve been working so hard, or you just lost that job, and you have no idea how you’re going to make ends meet – and there you sit thinking of ways to justify your actions as he begins to call you, Thief.
Or maybe life has taken a turn for the worse, everything that can go wrong has gone wrong and it just isn’t stopping. Your ability to construct a future is gone, and there you sit consumed with thoughts as he begins to call you, Depressed.
Or how about this one, the one so many have seemed to justify as you sit and think of how awful your spouse is and how everyone says you just need to leave him. There you sit with excuses for why your Pastor just doesn’t understand as you make yourself feel better for the papers you’re about to serve as he begins to call you, Divorced.
And the list goes on, and on, and on…
These names are names of those being shackled on their way to captivity. When bound in these places, we’re still known by our given names, but we take on a label that is fixated to our chest that forms an invisible barrier between us and our Savior, one that attempts to remove the name we carry shifting us from seeing the hope found in Him to a place of acceptance bound in shame, and stagnation.
But there is hope….
Galatians 3:27 says, “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”
Acts 2:38 tells us, “And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized everyone one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
When we are baptized in Jesus name, and when we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit – we are adopted into the family of Christ. We put him on, and our family name is changed to, Jesus. At that point, we take on his name, a name that is unlike any other name. A name that is anything but ordinary, and packed full of unbelievable ability.
There is power in the name of Jesus. The Bible declares it and every force in Hell understands it. The Enemy of your soul is well versed in what God has written. He knows Him personally and wants nothing more than for this powerful family name to be removed from your life or kept from ever being taken on. These thoughts provoke him to come to us through different persuasions and customs as it whispers to us that God’s word is no longer relevant, waters it down, tells us it’s outdated, too difficult, and causes us to feel alone in its lack of popularity.
If you’re in a place like this hearing the Enemy whispering in your ear – I want to remind you of the whisper Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego heard when their names were changed, and how they remembered the One True God they served, knew personally, spent time building a relationship with, and in doing so built a solid foundation poised to stand when the Enemy came at them full throttle.
You know what I love so much about these men? They understood the power of the God they served which is something too many of us have forgotten, or never sought after enough to understand. We have unwittingly bought into the lie of Satan that says, “You don’t need to read the Bible, pray, fast, or put forth any effort into your relationship with God. Just bask in his grace.” God’s grace is amazing, but what will we stand on when all of Hell tells us to just give in? To know the ability of the God we serve, we can’t sit back lazy and idle, we must study him seeking after him with intention to understand just the slightest bit of his unfathomable ability.
The Bible tells us we must seek to understand God’s freely given love. Why must we seek it? Because it is so vastly different from our own. Human love says when times get tough – give up. When someone wrongs you, walk away. But God’s love says there is nothing that can ever stop it – not even a fiery furnace. To ever obtain the slightest grasp of that truth you have to seek him day in and day out for revelation to its ability to carry you through every temptation that stands in your way.
Our God is a God who promises us a hope and future.
Philippians 2:10, “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;” The name of Jesus. The name spoken over you when you’re washed in waters of baptism. The name you take on when you are filled with the Holy Spirit- that’s the name that will one day cause every knee to bow. Even the knee of the one that’s tempting you right now. This is what Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego understood, and this is what we too must seek to understand, and it begins with a decision to make as we ask ourselves are we going to just give in, go with the flow, and follow the crowd? Or are we going to pursue the hope and future promised to us. Are we going to seek what Mary sought as she sat at the feet of Jesus pursuing the good part that would not be taken from her?
I encourage you today, to make the same decision Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego made. Do not allow the name being whispered into your ear to declare the person you are. Make your choice today, Choose Him.
In you is all power. You are the answer to all life’s questions. You are the eternal hope. You are the way, the truth, and the life. You see the temptation I face. You know the way out. I pray you help me to see it, help me to dig intentionally. When I don’t want to put forth effort into my relationship with you, help me to remember Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and how their dedication to you is what allowed them to stand strong when their names were changed. Help me to understand the powers, and your ability to walk me through the fiery places of life.
In Your Name I pray,
Miss Part One? Check it out! Maintaining a Fiery Faith in the Eyes of Fear