Redeemed in exile: Out of the comfort zone – 28 July 2020
By Louise Gevers
Making choices is part of life, but, in the current coronavirus crisis, people are hard pressed to make the right choices in what used to be relatively simple situations, because they now have far reaching consequences. For the Israelites, making choices in times of crisis meant turning to God in prayer and to His commandments which empowered them in their decision-making, as they do for Believers today.
Back in Babylon, Daniel and his friends were constantly being challenged to make the right decisions in their ‘new normal’ of living in a pagan world, that bowed to pagan gods, under the powerful Nebuchadnezzar, which had little regard for the individual’s freedom of thought or belief. So when Nebuchadnezzar set up a ninety foot statue of gold, and commanded all the people to bow down and worship the image that he’d set up, on pain of being thrown into a blazing furnace, their choice to honour God, not man, was not well received. Would we have had their unhesitating, bold faith and trust in God that resound in the verse today?
Devout Israelites, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego lived by the commandments that began with, “You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them …” (Exodus 20:3-5) Although respectful, they in no way believed that they had to obey Nebuchadnezzar. They believed implicitly that God could save them if He chose to and chose to honour Him “and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.”(Daniel 3:28)
How wonderful to know that God rewarded their faith! Not only did Nebuchadnezzar discover them alive, but he saw four men walking around free in the fire, “with no sign of being hurt – and the fourth one look(ed) like a god.” (Daniel 3:25) Commentators have different views, but whomever we choose to believe the fourth person in the fiery furnace is, he is clearly the one through whom God kept His promise to be with His redeemed people, when He said, “When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” (Isaiah 43:2)
All the people witnessed that they had emerged unharmed and had been so protected by Him that they did not even smell of smoke. Nebuchadnezzar was convinced of the superiority of the God they served and immediately honoured Him; he also promoted the men who had upheld Daniel in prayer and had now been redeemed from their own trial.
God says, “I will save those who love me and will protect those who know me as LORD. When they call to me, I will answer them; when they are in trouble, I will be with them. I will rescue them and honour them. I will reward them with long life; I will save them.” (Psalm 91:14-16 GNT)
Prayer: Loving Father God, Please help me to trust You implicitly, especially in these difficult times, and to honour you with every choice and decision that I make each day. Amen