27(Daniel 03) God is IN the Furnace
One year ago, 118 crewmen died when a torpedo exploded on the Russian submarine Kursk, sinking it to the bottom of the Barents Sea. 23 of these men survived in an isolated chamber for several hours after the explosion. One was 27-year-old Lt. Capt. Dmitry Kolesnikov. He wrote a note to his wife while he waited to die. Two words from that note were displayed next to his coffin at his funeral service: “Mustn’t despair.” Mustn’t despair.
A few human beings experience a moment when they know they are going to die. It is almost instinct that in that moment they want to send a message – they want someone to know their story. Passengers on JAL airliner in 1985, spiraling down to their death, used the last moments of their lives to write letters to those they loved. POWs of the Nazis in a Warsaw ghetto, seeing everyone else shot or starved to death, placed notes in crevasses in the walls, hoping someone besides the Nazis would read them and know their story.
In that final moment, when the scaffolding of life is stripped away – the stupid toys we spend our lives chasing (success, wealth, reputation, comfort) – mean nothing. If that moment were to come to you, and one day it will – we spend our lives pretending it won’t, but it will come – if it were here for you right now, what would you write? What’s your story?
This moment came in the lives of 3 young men, possibly the age of Captain Kolesnikov. They had risen to levels of great prominence. Their hearts were full of hopes and dreams.
1. A Choice to Die (Daniel 3:13-15)
What is striking is that usually when that moment comes, the person has no choice.
For S-M-A, death is escapable – all they do is bend the knee & the nightmare is over.
One word would mean life for them – but they would not say that word. They would not bend the knee. “Life or death?” they chose death. (16-18)
Those were their final words! “Mustn’t despair.”
Nebuchadnezzar reacts in rage: orders furnace heated as hot as possible.
Imagine these 3 young men – they have been faithful to the end. Every exit has been closed. Real people, filled with courage, maybe some fear, and faith.
The heat kills the men who took them to the edge – it begins to dawn on them that they are not even warm.
But the best part is what happens in verse 24. There is a 4th man in the fire! Nebuchadnezzar himself said it looked like a son of the gods! The text doesn’t say but I believe it was Jesus.
I wonder what they said to the 4th man. I bet they poured out adoration, praise and worship. They came to this place planning to withhold worship from a false God, and they end up worshipping, as they never had in their lives.
Worship is like that. The furnace, which looks like the end, turns out to be the greatest thing they had ever experienced. The furnace turns out to be the place where they meet God!
1. The furnace is where you meet God. (Daniel 3:14-25)
Here is the point of the story: they hoped to be delivered from the furnace, but God decided to deliver them in the furnace.
Jesus said to them what he says to us today, “I’ll meet you in the furnace.”
(v. 26) The writer takes great pains to tell of their clothing, and that none of it burned.
Going in the furnace - last thing they wanted to do - turns out to be the greatest event of their lives. The furnace, which looked like death, turns out to be the safest place.
Why? Because God was there. Sometimes God delivers from the furnace, sometimes in the furnace. And those times are the greatest times of your life.
There is a great danger for Christians, because we live in this comfortable world, a great danger that the primary goal of my life becomes furnace avoidance. “God, deliver me from pain, suffering; make it pleasant.” We avoid even the low-level flames.
Three times Paul prayed to have the thorn in the flesh removed. God said, “My grace is sufficient for you. My strength is made perfect in your weakness.” “I’ll meet you in the furnace. You mustn’t despair.”
2. The furnace will not destroy you. (Daniel 3:24-27; Isaiah 43:2, 7)
A. Those times when your head says, “All is lost” – all is not lost. (2)
B. The KEY: verse 1 – We take care of that which is valuable to us.
1. Who is He speaking of? (verse 7).
3. The furnace will become a witness. (Isaiah 43:10-12; Dan 3:28-30)
C. Is there a point to His delivering us in the fire?
1. Verse 10-12
2. Tell of His excellent mercies! (Be a witness that He is God!)