Victory in the Furnace
We can only go through some fires with a large faith; little faith will fail. We must have the victory in the furnace. --Margaret Bottome
A man has as much religion as he can show in times of trouble. The men who were cast into the fiery furnace came out as they went in--except their bonds. (Read the excerpt of the passage from Daniel 3 found below.)
How often in some furnace of affliction God strikes them off! Their bodies were unhurt--their skin not even blistered. Their hair was unsinged, their garments not scorched, and even the smell of fire had not passed upon them. And that is the way Christians should come out of furnace trials--liberated from their bonds, but untouched by the flames.
"Triumphing over them in it" (Col. 2:15).
That is the real triumph--triumphing over sickness, in it; triumphing over death, dying; triumphing over adverse circumstances, in them. Oh, believe me, there is a power that can make us victors in the strife. There are heights to be reached where we can look down and over the way we have come, and sing our song of triumph on this side of Heaven. We can make others regard us as rich, while we are poor, and make many rich in our poverty. Our triumph is to be in it. Christ's triumph was in His humiliation. Possibly our triumph, also, is to be made manifest in what seems to others humiliation.
Is there not something captivating in the sight of a man or a woman burdened with many tribulations and yet carrying a heart as sound as a bell? Is there not something contagiously valorous in the vision of one who is greatly tempted, but is more than conqueror? Is it not heartening to see some pilgrim who is broken in body, but who retains the splendor of an unbroken patience? What a witness all this offers to the enduement of His grace! --J. H. Jowett
"When each earthly prop gives under,
And life seems a restless sea,
Are you then a God-kept wonder,
Satisfied and calm and free?"
-- From Streams in the Desert by L.B. Cowman
The Image of Gold and the Blazing Furnace
King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, sixty cubits high and six cubits wide, and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. Then the herald loudly proclaimed, “Nations and peoples of every language, this is what you are commanded to do: you must fall down and worship the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.”
At this time some astrologers came forward and denounced the Jews. They said to King Nebuchadnezzar, “Your Majesty has issued a decree that everyone must fall down and worship the image of gold, and that whoever does not fall down and worship will be thrown into a blazing furnace. But Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego neither serve your gods nor worship the image of gold you have set up.” Furious with rage, Nebuchadnezzar summoned Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and [he] said to them, “Is it true that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up? Now, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?”
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.
Then Nebuchadnezzar was furious with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and his attitude toward them changed. He ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual and commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. The king’s command was so urgent and the furnace so hot that the flames of the fire killed the soldiers who took up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and these three men, firmly tied, fell into the blazing furnace.
Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?”
They replied, “Certainly, Your Majesty.”
He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”
Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!”
So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire and the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them. -- NIV (adapted)