Brennan Manning wrote in his book Ruthless Trust: The Ragamuffin’s Path to God, “The way of trust is a movement into obscurity, into the undefined, into ambiguity, not into some predetermined, clearly delineated plan for the future. The next step discloses itself only out of a discernment of God acting in the desert of the present moment. The reality of naked trust is the life of the pilgrim who leaves what is nailed down, obvious, and secure, and walks into the unknown without any rational explanation to justify the decision or guarantee the future. Why? Because God has signaled the movement and offered it his presence and his promise.”
Men and women of exceptional faith have experienced the joy, wonder and deliverance of their exceptional God.
When three young Hebrew men refused to bow before King Nebuchadnezzar’s image of gold, they stood in bold, naked trust. They rose from uniformed obscurity to stand in silent objection to the king’s decree. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego would not worship any object, any person or any god other than the Lord of Hosts and the King of Kings, their God Almighty.
King Nebuchadnezzar raged in fury at their silent, but defiant rejection of his golden image. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were sentenced to death in a fiery furnace. And still, the three men refused to relent. The furnace temperature increased sevenfold in response to the King’s anger. The three men were bound together and thrown inside to their sure demise for their blatant disobedience.
Blatant disobedience? This is how the King and his subjects saw their behavior.
However, for the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, He would judge their honor and worship as true obedience. These men placed their ruthless trust in Him alone. They considered their souls to be far more precious and worthy of salvation than their physical bodies. In response, the presence of the Lord manifested Himself in the furnace and secured their deliverance.
The fiery furnace observers were jolted by the amazing scene that resulted. Four, not three, unharmed, unbound, and unhindered men were walking about in the blazing fire.
How could this be?
King Nebuchadnezzar was astounded. He ordered that the men be set free from the confines of the furnace. They emerged from the fire without any trace of burns, without any scent of smoke and without any trauma from the experience. Their God had offered His presence and His protection in response to the bold obedience and reliant trust of His sons and servants, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.
In response to this miraculous deliverance, the king offered these words…
Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. Daniel 3:28 NIV
It’s an amazing acknowledgement of the trust, dependence and worship that Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego placed in their God.
Trust in this case comes from the Hebrew root word uxr. Uxr means to wash, bathe and maintain. What do you think about that in relation to the word ‘trust?’
Well, as I have considered it, when we take a bath or shower, isn’t it usually a personal, solitary experience? We take care to wash and maintain ourselves. The odors, dirt and grime are scrubbed away by our efforts.
However, in the case of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, when they entered the intense shower of heat and burning flames, would they be able to wash away the burns, the black soot, and the smoky smell all by themselves?
No, of course not.
They needed their Savior to do the supernatural washing and bathing as they offered their physical bodies and their physical lives to Him without fear and reservation. As a result, these men were washed clean and were purified in the wondrous, Holy presence of their King of Kings.
Mathew Henry wrote these words in honor of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego:
“If God can work such deliverance as no other can, he may demand such obedience as no other may.”
My Dear Friends, there may come a time when we are presented with an opportunity to affirm our faith and trust in God and must defy the orders and decrees of man. There may come a time when we must sacrifice our physical comfort and security in order to obey the calling of our God. There may come a time when we must refuse accepting something like a new job or new title because it would cause harm to our relationship with our God. Friends, there may come a time when we must trust our God so implicitly and so ruthlessly that we need Him to bathe us and wash us in a fiery furnace.
It is my prayer that we will see the deliverance of our God in such a way that those in our sphere of influence acknowledge our Heavenly Father with honor, with wonder and with worship. Because sometimes, this honor will only come through a level of obedience that requires us to be bathed and purified by our Savior and King by fiery flames of intense difficulty and crisis.
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire. Hebrews 12: 28-29 NIV
Our God is a consuming, wondrous fire who is worthy of our praise, our worship and our obedience. And when difficult times of testing come, it is my prayer that we acknowledge the words of Peter…
These have come so that your faith–of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire–may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 1 Peter 3:7 NIV
At such a time, may we be ready and willing to step into the fiery furnace and be bathed in the glorious revelation, redemption and deliverance of Jesus Christ our Lord.
Photo by Mephit Blue of Flickr