Eyes of Fear and Faith that Stands part 1
Do you feel the discomfort of a heated situation?
Do you feel alone? Are you afraid?
Do you not see a way out of your current circumstance?
Join me here, over the next few episodes as we look into scripture to see God’s light in the lives of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
As we do, we’ll find how His Light in their experience will reach in and shine in our own.
I. Want. A. Faith. Like. That.
I live in the Midwest, which means we spend time each fall outdoors preparing our yard for the upcoming winter season. I have a love/hate relationship with this time of year. I love the smell of the air. I love the crisp feel of the temperature. I love hoodies, hot chocolate, and a warm fire to sit by. But the yardwork, and preparation for winter ahead? – Not so much. I can do without cutting grass, pulling weeds, and raking leaves, however it’s a task I know is necessary as we work hard to take care of the home God has provided us.
One day several year ago, I went about working through this mundane task with hedge trimmers in hand, I went to work removing ornamental grasses from our landscape. Quickly finding myself in a mindless, cut – swipe – move rhythm, I was taken by surprise as a clump of grasses gave way to a pair of eyes staring back at me. One glimpse and my trimmers were on the ground, a scream was out of my mouth and my legs were running – that is, until I saw our neighbors watching, their eyes stopped me dead in my tracks.
Realizing the fool, I must have looked, I sent a forced smile, laugh and nervous wave their way. Aware of my audience, I mustered some courage and carefully made my way back to see what those eyes belonged to. Keeping a safe distance, I stooped down to that place, and found they weren’t attached to the poison possessing body I was certain they must, instead, what I saw was a toad, a harmless – still sitting there lazy, and calm – toad. What adult screams and runs from that?
Gathering my trimmers and resuming work, I laughed at what my neighbors must have thought, “Silly girl!” Yet my mind was drawn to something deeper. This isn’t the only time I’ve experienced something in life evoking fear that sent me running, only to find in the end there was no reason to run. I’ve walked some fearful paths – and I’d go to guess you have too (addiction, relational, financial, spiritual etc.) life is full of moments that attempt to persuade us into fear.
God knows this.
God is so good, and His understanding of His creation so extensive that He gives us pattern after pattern in His word equipping us with the ability to overcome this temptation and provides the strength we need to stand firm.
One of my favorites, is the truth we find in the lives of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Reading about their life in Daniel 3 – You can almost feel the strength of the Spiritual Armor they wore as they stood tall and immovable in the face of death.
A little background.
These are the men who walked through the fiery furnace and emerged unharmed. We often learn of them as a child in Sunday School and imagine them superhuman undeniably heroic, but a deeper dive and intentional study reveals what they possessed wasn’t mythical strength, it was faith totally, applicable faith that reveals to us God’s – roll up his sleeves walk through the fire love for his people.
When we find them, these men are living captive in Babylon. Without intentional study we can assume they were there only a short while before they found themselves standing in front of that fiery furnace. However, intentional study reveals to us they lived there for a while and were slowly submerged into this new culture. It reminds me of the way temptation comes to us. Very rarely does it ever present itself in a loud in your face manner, rather we find it tip-toeing ever so gently tugging away at what we know is truth by building acceptance and tolerance craftily attempting to reshape our thoughts to shift them away from the truth we know. It attempts to lull us into living life in a mindless cut, swipe, move motion…
Don’t believe me?
Just look at media – TV series today. Check this out, you’ll find it’s more often true then not. A new series will start out innocent, you fall in love with characters, story lines and just after you’ve invested yourself they slowly add in things that you wouldn’t normally give yourself permission to enjoy. However now that you’re emotionally invested you start to excuse it, saying, ‘oh, it’s just a little bit.’ or ‘I’ll just fast forward this.’ so and and so on. And there are you are starting to move those boundaries, and as you’re moving those boundaries, you’re giving yourself over to temptation that is slowly —— SOOOOO SOOOO SLOWLY but surely changing your views, integrating us into the world’s culture that we’re surrounded by. Changing your standards bit by bit, line by line. and there you are lulled into the cut swipe move motion that we far too often fall prey to.
Let’s look at the cut, swipe, move motion that tried to take hold of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.
First they were taken from a people that served the One True God and placed into a culture where the One True God was foreign, next they were given new names, then they were taught new customs, and finally they were shown a new god to serve. This same methodology is used against us today. Yet here we are dropping our tools and running at the smallest glimpse of the unknown – and there they stood immovable in the face of certain death. What is it? What is it about these men that gave them the ability to stand in the face of this opposition? Was it super human faith? Was it God himself holding them there against their will? Did God transcend all of Heaven and give them new minds in that moment?
No – he didn’t do any of this. What they had is much the same as what we have available to us today. It was intentional day in day out serving of their Lord. It was their obedience to God’s word and the faith that they had intentionally worked to build that gave them the ability to respond radically as they stood before that fiery furnace.
You guys, they looked fear straight in the eye and said – ”Bring it.” They looked FEAR in the eye, they saw the army standing against them, and they didn’t drop everything and run. They stood in confidence acknowledging the greater army that stood with them, and they saw God going before them, and their confidence was in Him. When their lives were at stake, they had the ability to rest on the faith they’d spent time investing in, the faith that had been built strong.
Amazing isn’t it? I. Want. A. Faith. Like. That… do you?
To get a faith like that we’ve got to study what they endured.
Background reading: Daniel 3
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, one of my favorite records of scripture. The relevance of their experience and its application to our lives is nothing short of awe-inspiring. Let’s pretend for just a moment that we are them. Can you imagine what it must have been like to see Nebuchadnezzar, the intensity of his eyes, and to feel the heat from that furnace? The thoughts that must have raced through their minds. They’re probably the same that would race through ours; “What about my family?” “God, why this?” “How bad will this hurt? Can you make it not hurt?” “Is there another way?” “I don’t want this.” – Can you imagine standing where they stood and possessing the ability to be still and declare unwavering faith?
It’s ok if you can’t, that’s the purpose of this study. To reveal to you the strength they possessed is just as available to you as it was for them and to reveal to you that God’s still willing to walk through fires with his people – and he’s waiting to do it with you.
3 Men, 3 ways their lives apply to ours:
The importance of a name.
Before being taken captive, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were known as Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, Hebrew names. Hebrew names were meaningful, connected to God, and a person’s faith. The fact that they were replaced by Babylonian names is significant. It was a move by the Babylonians to integrate them into their culture encouragement to forget the God they once served and gain acceptance into this new place of life.
But even though their name was changed – we know by their place in scripture that their faith was unchanged.
Yes, Babylon called them Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego – but the advance was not successful in integrating them into society. These men still knew who they were. They were faithful. They knew their God and the fact that the world called them something different didn’t sway them from changing their mind about him.
Whether we recognize it or not, we experience this same thing as our own culture attempts to disconnect us from the faith we profess. When we are imperfect, when we make a mistake it quickly jumps to change our name calling us, liar, hypocrite, depressed, etc.
In these moments we can find ourselves tempted to buy in and take that name on by allowing shame to label us these things. The problem in doing this is that fixating that label on our chest is a move toward ourselves as these things, and in doing so allow ourselves to be tempted to remove the name we carry. What they call us has no standing. It is our confidence in who we are and the name that we carry, the name that has been spoken over us spiritually that matters. This is the name that we are adopted into through waters of baptism. It happens when Jesus’ name is spoken over us to cover every sin.
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 we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit – we are adopted into the family of Christ and our family name is changed to, Jesus. We take on his name, a name that is unlike any other name.
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;”
There is power in the name of Jesus, and you better believe 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 at bay from ever being taken on thus he comes to us through different persuasions and customs, whispering that God’s word is no longer relevant, telling us faithfulness is outdated and too difficult, causing us to feel alone in its lack of popularity. With all of these things, he attempts to shackle us and put us through the exact same gauntlet of fear where Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego once stood.
His bid is purposed to cause us to forget the God we serve. His desire is to integrate us into the culture of deception in which so many in this world now dwell, begging us to to forget the name we have taken on and replace it with names of our culture, adulteress, fornicator, thief, depressed, divorced, etc.
Taught new customs
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were transplanted into a culture that was completely different from what they had always known. Their God was not seen as the One True God, and living for him was certainly not popular.
We may not be driven from our home, and taken to a new place to live, but there are times when we too find ourselves in places, whether it be our work, school, relationship, etc where God is not part of the culture, and serving Him is not customary. It causes us to feel as though we are pushing against the grain of society. At times it makes it difficult and uncomfortable to profess His name and maintain the lifestyle we are called into.
Shown a new God to follow
The Babylonians showed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego a new God to follow. Although not as apparent as what they experience, we are too. Ours however, come to us discretely, albeit just as powerfully. He uses various lures of persuasion taking the form of self-love, money, position, security, fame, and possessions – all idols begging to be erected in our lives waiting for us to fall down in worship of.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego fought these temptations, and here we are thousands of years later experiencing the same. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had a faith that God beckons us all into. They were threatened with a furnace their eyes could see, with a heat their bodies could feel yet their faith remained strong. Their customs intact, and their God – Our God – on His throne. Their faith was bold, and their confidence so strong that they stood immovable proclaiming God’s sovereignty without worry of where their response might lead. It gave them the ability to boldly stare a scary situation square in the eyes, and proclaim God’s strength.
The path through their situation looked certain of death yet in the heat of it all God stood firmly beside them, and walked them through the fire of their situation, allowing them to emerge, unblemished, unharmed, not evening smelling of smoke. I imagine, even though their experience happened YEARS before the book of Isaiah was written, that their thoughts as they looked at King Nebuchadnezzar and the furnace they walked through were the same when it says in 14:16, “Those who see you will stare at you and ponder over you, ‘Is this the man who made the earth tremble, who shook kingdoms,’”
And that he still walks through fire with his people.
I wonder today, if you’re facing something that feels just as scary and looks just as impossible? Do you feel the intensity of the eyes of fear staring at you? Do you feel the discomfort of a heated situation? Do you feel alone? Are you afraid? Do you not see a way out? If that’s where you are, I encourage you to read Daniel 3 and understand that its placement in scripture is for you. Join me here over the next few days as we look and apply their life to our own. Let’s dig together and allow God’s light in their experience to shine in our own.
It’s purposed to give light to your hopeless situation. It’s purposed to reveal to you the path out by building your faith in the one who has promised not to allow any temptation to come to you that is more then you can bear. Be encouraged by the faith of these three Hebrew men, and remember that the same God they served – the one that walked them through the flames – He’s the same God we serve today, and his desire is to grab you by the hand and pull you through your situation just the same, but it begins with a decision to make, a decision Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego made as they looked Hell straight in the eye and declared their allegiance to the One True God. They had their mind made up – won’t you join me today, let’s – Choose Him.