Coincidentally or more likely by divine design, I happened to read a portion of the Bible during my study today that encapsulates the thoughts I expressed in my previous post. Oftentimes, when God wants to get a point across, He bombards you from all angles and everything you see, hear, and experience suddenly starts to point to that specific thing God impressing upon your heart. As expressed in the previous post, I have come to a point of strong conviction about my faith and the essence of Christianity. It is not about the things we can get from God today but more about our attitude to what He gave us over 2000 years ago.
I crave the indulgence of your imagination for this post. It’s not an exercise in futility but the text we’ll be considering today, though very popular, is one of those which require a strong imagination to grasp the full import of the events. I often immerse myself in the context and scenery of most Bible stories using the power of imagination. Some details are often lost in popular Bible stories as we tend to glance over the finer details. Below is an excerpt from the famous Bible story of the three Hebrew boys tossed into the fiery furnace by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon for refusing to bow down to his golden image. These three verses are the climax of a captivating series of events:
16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17 If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. 18 But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.” – Daniel 3:16-18 (NKJV)
The three Hebrew boys are quintessential examples of people who had crossed the point of no return in their relationship with God. Please understand that Nebuchadnezzar was no ordinary king. His empire was massive as a result of the nations he had conquered. He was the grandest man alive at the time and was feared by all. Here are three Hebrew boys (not men) who stood up to him for their faith in their God. It might also help your imagination to know that there were elders of Judah who bowed to the image. Likewise there must have been some Levites and priests who bowed down as well yet these boys utterly refused to deny God even when faced with imminent death.
Let’s take this apart. They made some very rousing points. First they declared that God is able to deliver them. God’s ability was not in question to them. They said, “our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace”. Secondly, they established the truth that God is willing – “and He will deliver us from your hand, O king”. He can and He will; to doubt His ability is to question his omnipotence and to doubt His willingness is to question His goodness. Psalm 61:11 says, “God has spoken once, twice I have heard this: That power belongs to God.” And we know that God is good and His mercies endure forever.
Conviction and crossing the point of no return is however not an excuse for a defeated Christianity as some might believe. I am not in doubt that God can meet every need I will ever have. His ability is not in question. Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think. In the same way, there is no question about His willingness to meet every need I will ever have. A leper came to Jesus in Mark 1 and said, “If you are willing, You can heal me and make me clean” and Jesus said to him, “I am willing”. God is ever willing to supply every need that falls under that broad category of blessings. Let’s establish that firmly.
Nevertheless, though God can and we know He will, if He does not deliver us for whatever reason, it changes nothing. That is love. They loved God and certainly knew some things about God that their colleagues did not know. This was not a gesture born out of fear. There is nothing more fearful than facing death by fire yet they would rather than turn back on God. Even still more noteworthy is that they had this crossed this point of no return long before Jesus came to earth to pay the price for our sins. They didn’t have the privilege of the gospel of Jesus Christ and salvation by grace and through faith as we do, yet they were fully persuaded.
If God doesn’t do those things you expect or believe He would, would your faith remain sound? I know that God is able and willing to bless. He wants to heal the sick, deliver the oppressed, comfort those who mourn, provide for His children financially, make us fruitful, and make us prosperous among many more but if for any reason these don’t become a reality would you remain faithful? That is the million dollar question. Do we serve God for things or for Him?
Until you cross this line, your Christian walk cannot be steady. It will be a roller coaster and there are too many Christians enrolled in the roller coaster version of Christianity – fervent today and discouraged tomorrow. Circumstances can never change what happened at the Calvary. The absence of a job cannot ‘unkill’ Jesus neither can the presence of terminal illness undo his sacrifice. Nothing that we face is capable of stripping the cross of its power. Shalom.