C.F. Leach|Longreads|March 2019|8 Minutes (2.020 words)|Part I

Webster defines crucible as: ‘1. a pot or similar vessel made of some substance that resists fire; used for holding metals or ore that are treated under great heat in the process of manufacture. 2. A severe trial or test.’

In this instance there are three young Jewish teens that, by sheer faith, became these definitions in a way mortals never deemed possible…

Because of King Zedekiah’s disobedience to God’s word, those who were not slain in the South Kingdom of Judah; were taken captive by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar —Hananiah (Shadrach), Michael (Meshach) and Azariah (Abednego) along with Daniel (Belteshazzar) were among those captured. (Jeremiah 39:9)

And it came upon a day Nebuchadnezzar decided to erect a titanic statue of gold in the plain of Dura—the province of Babylon. For his statue’s dedication he placed a most deadly and irrevocable decree upon the land… Then a herald cried aloud, “To you it is commanded, O people, nations, and languages, That at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up: And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.” (Daniel 3:4-6)

Royalty, government officials on every level, his subjects and all nationalities bowed down and worshiped this golden image. All bowed down, except three Jewish teens who just received a promotion from this same king. This promotion set them over the affairs of the Babylonian providence at the request of their friend Daniel. (Daniel 2:49) Yet they did not allow their positions to distort the lines of truth.

These same young men who refused to eat from the king’s table for fear of polluting themselves, are now refusing to bow down to his statue for fear of Almighty God. Through all the ordeals they had faced, thus far, God was with them and they were not about to abandon Him for fear of a mortal king.  Is it not written …? “We ought to obey God rather than men.”(Acts 5:29) Nebuchadnezzar’s decree was a total antithesis to the commandment of God, which they would not violate. (Ex 20:4-5)

Their faith positioned them into a place of knowing they were under God’s protection. Again, you have to shift your faith from believing to knowing. Not suggesting you presume to know what God will do, but with confidence you know, in His Sovereignty, is able to do all things. They gave themselves over to God, years before they were imprisoned, with the revelation they did not belong to themselves. What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? (1 Corinthians 6:19)

This knowing elevated them onto another level of faith where they knew God could protect them no matter what.

They were walking in a promise God made to deliver the captives in Babylon and to restore the nation. (Jeremiah 24:1-7)  Their mindset was: “When I pray, LORD God, my enemies will retreat, because I know for certain that you are with me. I praise your promises! I trust and am not afraid. No one can harm me.” (Psalm 56:9-11) This is the confidence they had in God’s faithfulness. And even if God did not deliver them, they were not going to bow down and compromise their position. In this decision they remained steadfast for the LORD. (Psalm 91:4-7)

Into your life a ‘kairos’ moment will come, when you must believe God; no matter how it looks, feels, sounds or even smells! It may look impossible, feel terrible, all you are hearing is negative news and the situation may even smell like it has already gone up in smoke! But, the same God who brought Israel through the Red Sea on dry land; the same God who brought the Shunammite woman’s son back to life— is the same God who can bring your circumstances ‘to pass’ any moment in time. Is it not written: For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect towards him? (2 Chronicles 16:9) Notice the text reads   ”…whose heart is perfect towards him.

What is the condition of your heart concerning God? Do you really believe in and love Him? Or do you have the attitude of Asa; who God delivered on many occasions, yet he persisted on trusting a heathen king rather than God. (2 Chronicles 16:1-12)

Asa acquired a case of short-term amnesia, got stuck in a mind field and forgot his Redeemer did not want him responding to his dilemma with logic, but with faith. Right here you must take your staff, draw a line in the sand and declare to the enemy “God did not bring me this far to perish in the Desert of Hopelessness. I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord!” (Psalm 118:17)

If not, your dependence will be on the arm of flesh and you begin acting against your experiences. You may think—what experiences?  Those experiences where it looked like you were about to perish in the Desert of Hopelessness. But because you relied on the LORD, miraculously, He brought you through the Valley of the Shadow of Death and your victory came to pass.

The downside to leaning on the arm of flesh is it ushers you into leaning on your own understanding—lacking the wisdom of God; thereby, walking towards wrong belief. X marks the spot where a particular circumstance confused you into believing although God was on your side He would not, or perhaps could not, bring you out of such a circumstance. Most of us need to go back to that spot, repent for deviating from the path of righteousness, and press into His presence. Always remember, those whose hearts are perfect towards God are the ones who are at peace with Him. Here our prayer should be My God and my King, may my heart never forget Your promises and may I be transformed through surrender to you.

The key here is the continuous building of your most holy faith.

If you allow compromise to creep in it will surely destroy your honest commitment to righteousness. This will require your most diligent efforts to reconstruct spiritual principles amid worldly corruption on all levels. You must distance yourself—detach yourself from everything weakening your relationship with the LORD. (2 Corinthians 6:16-18) This is exactly what the three crucibles did. The action may not seem popular, but it lends to God’s purposeful results!

Verse eight reveals…There were certain Chaldeans who observed what these three teens did. They hastily ran to king Nebuchadnezzar and accused them of not serving his gods or obeying his decree.

The Accuser of the Brethren can always be found lurking somewhere in the corridors of men’s minds, waiting for an opportunity to avenge his evil intentions. This is his modus operandi.  And if you focus on these accusations, for any period of time —you will find yourself so wrapped up in self-imposed ridicules, without even realizing it, you will slowly back away from the presence of God, begin to abandon your belief in the Word of God and as a result lose your purpose and true identity.

If this revelation eludes you—understand, you are not playing Mortal Kombat. This is not a game. Yes, this is a battle for your soul; but it is Spiritual Warfare and cannot be won in physical combat. You need weapons of divine temper: the helmet of salvation, the shield of faith and your sword which is the word of God. Which comprise part of your armor. Never forget, Lucifer is a tactician whose sole purpose is to totally obliterate your faith, defeat your spirit, destroy your soul—and in the process; bring you to complete annihilation!                           

This was the enemy’s plan for the three Hebrew boys; certain death in a fiery furnace. For a moment, look at this in the theater of your mind. You either bow down to an idol or perish in fiery flames—there are no other appealing options. Can you imagine the enormity of their faith to face certain death rather than disobey God’s word?  They never allowed discouragement or fear to steal their faith. It took absolute courage in trusting Him to navigate them through such a horrendous ordeal.  Right here in this place one’s prayer should be Lord please strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for my feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed. (Heb. 12:12-13).

Can you visualize how this one act propagated the indignant response of Nebuchadnezzar; as his unified pagan worship was disrupted by the actions of these young men?  They affronted the very amalgamation of his power. In an outrage, the king commanded these three be brought before him immediately. How quickly he forgot his first encounter with God and here he is again, challenging that same authority. (Daniel 2:46-47) Earthly kings are mere mortals but God rules in the Realm of Immortality of which king Nebuchadnezzar would, once again, be reminded.

Verse thirteen brings in Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego before an irate king.  And the king, in not only indignation but also utter disbelief, asks them if they intentionally disobeyed his decree. Nebuchadnezzar was probably somewhat mortified as to how these young men, he had recently promoted, could; so adamantly, throw their lives away for religious principles. For him this was nepotism at its worst!

With eyes of pride he was blind to the fact that these Hebrew boys were not throwing their lives away. No, they were placing their lives in the hand of the same God who, to this point, consistently protected them because of their religious principles.

Positions of power should never accommodate compromise when it treads on corruption’s border. For it taints the mantle of righteousness and sets in motion a perverse mindset. One which takes you from the very foundation of truth to what you want the truth to be, creating an illusion of the truth. (2 Timothy 3:7-9)

When you find yourself at this Mirage of Truths you must re-think your position in life as it attributes to your spiritual well-being.

In so doing, you will also find the necessity to bolster your position of righteousness, which will empower your advancement onto the authentic path of truth and strength. So when the offer of temptation comes around again—you can stand your ground with a surety God is with you, despite how the situation may appear. (I Corinthians 10:13)

And that is exactly where they found themselves as the king offered them a second opportunity to bow down before his pagan spectacle. Yet, the greatest mistake of haughty mortals echoed in the question posed next…”who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?” Obviously he had stumbled into a Wilderness of Insanity if he thought to be greater than God!

And right here, in the midst of this insane chaos, many of us would miss the greater blessing; being too concerned with our present position. Who needs a key to the executive bathroom when you could have the keys to the Kingdom? Who needs to sit at a conference table of corporate mediocrity when you can sit at the table with the King of Kings? Who needs a corporate jet when the favor of God will soar you far above all you ever knew possible? In other words, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”(Mark 8:36)

These arguments were not opened for debate with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. No, the forthcoming answer was far more exasperating than their actions could ever be. They had predetermined minds long before arriving to this juncture of decisions. Their conclusion was to serve God and not bow down to the vanities of men. Not a foolish ambition but a prerequisite to the disposition of God.

Note: The term mind field refers to places of darkness which give the enemy free course to operate in your thought processes.

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