Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church - Marshfield, WI

Advent 2023: December 11 - Presence

Monday December 11th: Presence

Read Daniel 3.
What you have to love in Daniel 3 is the officialness of it all.  How many times the list of magistrates are listed.  The amount of times the instruments are all laid out.  It can feel a bit mind numbing and pompous.  Which is the point.  We see the full arrogance of King Nebuchadnezzar on display.

On the other side are three faithful Israelites, who are in exile in Babylon and must suffer the king’s command.  When Nebuchadnezzar builds a giant idol for everyone in the empire to bow down to, we see that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego will not budge an inch in worship.
Now these three have been faithful stewards of the king, but when push comes to shove, their true loyalties are revealed.  They only listen to the king because it is what God would have of them, but when the King orders something that is beyond what God has ordered, it is to be disobeyed, even at the cost of their lives.

But they will not bow down to any other god, this is the line that cannot be crossed.  And so they must suffer the king’s wrath.  And this they will gladly do.
Their words are inspiring to the king on this matter: “We have no need to answer you in this matter.  If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king.  But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

They know that God is able to rescue them, but for them it does not matter if he does.  If God’s will is for them to get burned to a crisp and die, then so be it.
The furnace is then cooked as hot as it can go, it is so hot that it kills the soldiers who toss in the three faithful men.

But wait… Wasn’t there three men?  Why now does Nebuchadnezzar count four men?  And in the king’s own words, “I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods…”
King Nebuchadnezzar does not know how well he spoke those words.  His pagan polytheism misses the point just so slightly, but we as Christians know who he saw: The Son of God.

Who was in the fire with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego?  It was Jesus Christ, who did not save them from going in the fire, but saved them through the fire.  Truly as Nebuchadnezzar spoke: “For there is no other god who is able to rescue in this way.”

Jesus Christ does not save us from going to the cross and grave, Jesus is able to do something much more grand than that.  He can save us through cross, and death, and grave.  He still does today, for he lives and reigns forever and ever!  Amen.