Don't Fear the Furnace
Wow! What a story, Church!
Most likely, we have all read it before. In Daniel chapter three, we find a story that never gets old and is applicable for every generation over the last 2700 years since this story occurred. King Nebuchadnezzar and the leaders of Babylon demanded that everyone living under their leadership, including those worshippers of Yahweh, must do three things or be cast into a deadly furnace:
1) You followers of Yahweh must celebrate what you once condemned – celebrate worshipping other gods, my god, celebrate my god's morals and ethics, celebrate the god I created, not yours, says King Neb (Daniel 3:4-5).
2) You followers of Yahweh must condemn what you once celebrated – condemn and disobey your monotheistic God, Yahweh, condemn your biblical worldview, condemn your God's morals and ethics.
3) You must also condemn everybody who does not celebrate these changes – while you submit to the prevailing pluralistic culture you must also condemn, cancel everyone who continues to worship Yahweh and who does not embrace Babylon's morals and ethics. To the furnace they go! (Daniel 3:8).
The tactics of King Neb and his government officials are alive and well today, they are nothing new. The ethic, "celebrate what I celebrate and condemn what I condemn or else I will destroy you," is in full effect. The spirit of Babylon today seeks to undermine and destroy God’s people just like the Old Testament Babylon tried to destroy God’s people. The spirit of Babylon seeks to throw us into the furnace of shame and condemnation. I am sure that you experience the heat of the prevailing Babylonian world system furnace today as it demands you, as a Christian, to submit to its worldview of tolerance.
The reality is that today’s pluralistic and secular culture only practices a pseudo-tolerance. You would think that these cultures would be welcoming to those who did not want to worship their image. Secular and pluralistic cultures are opposed to religious freedom and freedom of conscious. They quickly heat up the fires of the furnace of shame and condemnation when you do not join them in worshipping their image of their subjective god. In the same way that the three monotheistic God worshippers of Daniel 3, were made to worship a god they did not believe, Christians today are told to renounce their biblical morals and to stand down on their biblical faith or to the furnace you go. These pressures surround us in the world and in the Church.
Will we respond the same way as our secular, pluralistic culture and give in to worship their man-made god or will we have a Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego moment trusting God in the flames of shame and condemnation?
Be alert and be discerning to the screaming demands of the world to redefine sin, to abolish biblical morals, and to mock God’s creative order. Stand resolute like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego saying, “we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up (Daniel 3:18).” And always remember as you stand in faithfulness, trusting in Yahweh, He will send a fourth man to join you in the flames of the furnace, Jesus Christ. He will not remove us from our troubles and trials but He always meets us there. Don’t fear the furnace!
I look forward to worshipping with you Sunday the One who joins us in the furnace, Jesus Christ, - Steve