“Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace.” – Daniel 3:17
Usually we think of the trials of life as something we hope God will deliver us from. And indeed the Bible promises, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all” (Psalm 34:19).
However, there’s another side to this which we often overlook. Yes, God can deliver us FROM our trials. But more often, He delivers us IN and THROUGH the trials of life. In other words, the Lord uses our tests and afflictions to set us free from the things that bind us.
Let me share a story that illustrates this well…
In Daniel chapter 3, King Nebuchadnezzar made a huge golden image that everyone was commanded to bow down before. Three Hebrew young men—Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego—refused to worship the king’s image, and they were thrown into the fiery furnace.
When throwing these men into the furnace, the king mocked them and asked, “Who is the god who will deliver you from my hands?” (v. 15).
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered:
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. 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 (vs. 17-18).
These men knew the Lord was able to deliver them from their fiery trial. But even if He didn’t, they had resolved not to compromise their faith.
Pause to put yourself in their position. Would you be willing to bow down to the king’s image in order to avoid the fiery furnace? Or what if machete-wielding ISIS warriors threatened to cut off your head unless you renounced your devotion to Jesus Christ?
These young Jewish men were committed to pleasing God rather than the king. They refused to squeeze into the mold of the surrounding culture—even if they might have to pay with the lives.
I’m convinced that much of the bondage people suffer is the result of people-pleasing, wanting to fit in with the crowd. First the compromises are small, but whenever you give the devil an inch, he always takes a mile. There’s an old maxim that says, “Sin starts as a cobweb, but soon becomes a cable.”
The king was so infuriated that he heated the furnace seven times hotter than usual. Perhaps it seems that way for you today. Like the young men in this story, you’ve tried to be faithful to God, but you find yourself in a fiery furnace nevertheless. If so, don’t despair. The story isn’t over yet!
Freed from Bondage
The three men were in some serious “bondage” when they went into the fire: “These men were bound in their coats, their trousers, their turbans, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace” (v. 21). We’re told that they “fell down bound” when they entered the fire.
Friend, were you bound up in some way when you entered your season of fiery affliction? Perhaps the bondage was obvious to everyone—something like an addiction. Or it may have been confined to the secret places of your heart—for example, some kind of emotional bondage like fear, anger, loneliness, or depression.
Although it’s hard to believe this while you’re going through your trials, the fire may actually turn out to be your friend.
King Nebuchadnezzar looked into the furnace, expecting to see the burning flesh of the three young men who had defied him. Instead, he saw an astonishing sight:
Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?…I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God (v. 24-25).
What an encouraging story! Yes, we sometimes may be thrown into the fire of affliction, even when we’ve done all we can to obey the Lord. However, just as these men experienced, the Son of God will be in the fire with us! He is Immanuel (Matthew 1:23), and He’s promised to never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).
The king’s representatives were shocked when “they saw these men on whose bodies the fire had no power; the hair of their head was not singed nor were their garments affected, and the smell of fire was not on them” (v. 27). Although God didn’t spare them from the flames, the fire had no power to harm them. When they were delivered out of the furnace, they didn’t even have the smell of smoke on them!
I don’t know what you’re going through today. Instead of a literal furnace, you may be experiencing the fires of bankruptcy, divorce, illness, depression, or recovery from addiction.
But don’t miss my favorite part of this story. Not only did Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego get delivered from the furnace—they also were set free from everything that had bound them before being put in the fire! Before freeing them from the furnace, God first used the fire to free them from everything else that was binding them.
You can be confident that the fire isn’t sent into your life to destroy you, but to set you free. The Lord promises in Isaiah 43:1-2, “When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you.”
You see, there’s no need to fear, for God will be with you through the fiery trials of life. And after you’ve been tested, you’ll come out like pure gold—free indeed (Job 23:10).