County Pastor column: Look instead to the Word of God
By Timothy Rosenow, pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Prescott
Three men had walked in, but they weren't supposed to have walked out. As he stood in slack-jawed amazement at what his eyes beheld, he began to think that his senses were simply failing him. Not only was there not now a scent of death in the air, but just a few moments earlier he had thought he could make out a fourth person among them. Three men had walked in — knowing they were going to their death — yet then there were four, and now those same three men walked out unharmed and unsinged.
In Daniel chapter 3, God describes for us an event where the king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, chose to set up a statue and ordered that everyone bow down in worship to that statue. Yet when the signal went out and the wave of people began to bow, there were three men standing amid the sea of prostrate peoples. Their bold confession is a beautiful example of fiery faith: "King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty's hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods nor worship the image of gold you have set up" [Daniel 3:16-18].
But this account isn't really about protestors standing up against an oppressive regime. It isn't about men whose faith was so strong that they we perfect under pressure. It's really not about the men at all. Just before they made their confession, Nebuchadnezzar had made his own statement: "if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?" [Daniel 3:15].
What God will be able to rescue you from my hand? It really is true what they say about absolute power, isn't it?
Yes, the example from those three men of faith in the midst of fear is a beautiful thing for us to strive for, but honestly we'll fail. We'll fall short. We'll mess it up. Which is why it's so important to know that it's not about us. It's about the God, who saw the rebellion of Nebuchadnezzar and chose to love him. It's about the God, who sent his angel to stand in the flames with those three men, protecting and preserving them. It's about the God who took our sinful rebellion and our guilty pride to a death-sentence cross of wood outside Jerusalem.
The God of the Bible is the God of rescue, who continually shows his deep love and concern for a world who constantly turns from him — myself definitely included. Don't put your trust in election results or public policy; don't turn to feel-good, self-help gurus; don't look deep inside yourself for some spark of divinity or perfection to pull you through. Look instead to the Word of the God, whose arms stretched out to embrace the world. Look to the One on whose shoulders were laid every sin and shortcoming ever. Look to Jesus who underwent every fire of Hell's furnace in order that you and I may come through life unharmed and unsinged. Crack open your Bible and take some time this week to read through Daniel 3, to see the God who loves you so much that he endured hell to give you heaven.