It’s over! Contented, the king was looking on that huge multitude, bowed down in worship unto his image. His pride was fully satisfied. His power was unanimously recognized. He was the only one lord of the world. Everybody, just everybody, was there hovering in the dust!
But his joy was not for long. Soon he was informed about three Hebrew men who had not worshipped him. How could that be possible? His power to be questioned? By whom? And all his display of power to become nothing? Impossible! The rebellious should be exemplarily punished! The king was angry. The three young men were now before him. What a big contrast! Calm and noble, ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers in all matters of wisdom and understanding. . . . “How to lose them?” he thought. “Who will replace them? Let’s try a compromise. Perhaps something was misunderstood.”
Then came the proposal. Another chance. But in the faces of the young men nothing changed. “Could they be so powerful? More than I?” Full of anger, the king demanded, “Who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?” ().
At that moment, the three young men revealed naturally the secret of their tremendous power. In simple, clear words, full of heavenly dignity, they explained. There was Someone else who had been challenged. They were not important, but He was! The king was invited to see, to understand the Lord whom these Hebrews loved and worshipped. They boldly declared, “If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up” (, ).
The anger of the king had no limits. “Heat the furnace seven times hotter!” he thundered.
In a few more minutes, the only three faithful men were to be consumed. . . . Satan and his army were rejoicing.
Still fuming with anger, the king on his throne tried to understand. “What insolence! To defy me publicly! Now it’s over. . . . But what a pity! They were my best men—wise, worthy, humble. And if you think deeply, they were not really insolent. They were convicted in their conscience. . . . What foolishness! . . . But—what if that God of theirs can really save them? What great confidence they seemed to have! It was as if He were there, next to them. And only I could not see Him. . . . Then I’m lost!”
Forgetting the decorum, pomp, and pride, and now full of fear instead of wrath, the king stood up and ran past his armed servants to the furnace, feeling as if he himself were facing the throne of judgment. Through the open door of the furnace, he saw. But he could hardly believe his eyes. “Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?” “True, O King,” replied his counselors. “Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God” (, ).
“I see!” What a great blessing! How could it be possible? Through the faith of only three young men—three young men with the faith of Jesus, humble, noble friends of Jesus. They were officers in Babylon, but more importantly, they were coworkers with Jesus, and they had come to know Him, love Him, and see Him permanently before their eyes and to trust fully His wisdom and mighty power.
Being as they were “full time” workers for the Master, when this trial came, everything passed for them normally, simply. Their friendship with Him continued in the fire, too. Freely! What wonderful freedom!
There, at the door of that furnace, once more comes the challenge of the Lord for you, my dear one reading these lines. “Thus saith the Lord; Behold, I set before you the way of life, and the way of death” (). What are you choosing? In the flames of trial, to continue your friendship with Jesus, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, or outside, maybe dreaming that you are the chief of the world, but in reality being full of fear, with a frozen heart, because of regrets? . . . This scene is being repeated countless times in the world’s history. And each time a choice is involved. Now it’s your turn! Have you already chosen? And if not, what are you choosing now?
Thank the Lord that the gospel is positive! You and I can choose anew, for eternity! Jesus, just beside us, is inviting:
“Choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live”(). What kind of life? Beyond imagination! Walking with Him, you’ll have the chance to grow continually, “into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” ( ). Day by day, closer to Him, more clearly understanding the challenges of life, you will fight the good fight of faith. . . . With what results? Who knows, except Jesus! But in order to have an idea, remember the three Hebrew friends. They and their clothes were not burned and not even the smell of fire could be found on them . . . and finally came that tremendous next decree from the astonished king: “Every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill: because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort” ( ).
The importance, the usefulness of such a life is unbelievable. Just as in those times, today our Lord is willing to turn the course of the history using ordinary, faithful people like you and me. Thus He will close His work. Thus He will answer the questions of the world, revealing His character and His mighty power.
“The greatest want of the world is the want of men—men who will not be bought or sold, men who in their inmost souls are true and honest, men who do not fear to call sin by its right name, men whose conscience is as true to duty as the needle to the pole, men who will stand for the right though the heavens fall.
“But such a character is not the result of accident; it is not due to special favors or endowments of Providence. A noble character is the result of self-discipline, of the subjection of the lower to the higher nature—the surrender of self for the service of love to God and man.”—.
May the Lord help you and I to be coworkers with Him! Let us open our hearts and accept Him, with His infinite power to work in us, to use us according to His will, doing our part faithfully! This is my wish and prayer!—Radu Ionita.