27 Then the high officers, officials, governors, and advisers crowded around them and saw that the fire had not touched them. Not a hair on their heads was singed, and their clothing was not scorched. They didn’t even smell of smoke!— Daniel 3:27 NLT
Shadrach, Meschah and Abednego had refused to bow to the ninety foot statue of Nebuchadnezzar. They, instead, chose to remain faithful to their God. They told the king that whether God chose to deliver them or not, they would always remain faithful. For their faithfulness, they were thrown into a fiery furnace that burned so hot, the soldiers throwing them into the furnace were killed. Rather quickly, Nebuchadnezzar learned that his plan to destroy the three men did not work. God joined them in the furnace and delivered them so completely that their clothes did not even have the smell of smoke on them. An amazing miracle! So, amazing that even the king gave the praise to the God of these three men. He also quickly promoted them to a higher position in the government. They were saved from the fire because they had more work to do here on earth. Contrast this to the deaths of the apostles whom God chose to deliver in a totally different way. He allowed them to die and to come on home to heaven. Their work here on earth was finished. I wonder which of the two methods of deliverance the three men in the furnace would have chosen, if the decision had been left up to them. Paul might have wondered the same thing.
Have you ever wondered if God thinks about us in these terms? I am sure that satan, the old deceiver, would like for us to believe that He does. If we have ever had these kind of thoughts, we should be like the Psalmist here. In his very next breath (or verse in this case), he immediately gets his head on straight by remembering what has happened in every instance in the past. The Psalmist realizes that he is speaking from a bitter heart and he has been questioning God’s wisdom. God never leaves us nor forsakes us nor does He cast us from His presence. Instead, He reaches down to us and if we reach up to Him, He takes us by the hand and continues to lead us toward our glorious destiny. The Psalmist remembers that God is our strength, our fortress and our shield. We allow satan to sneak these silly ideas into our minds when we are focused on the horizontal. We need to stay focused on the vertical. That means spending time alone with God, praising and thanking Him for His goodness and His blessings. If we do this, we can be assured that God will set the rest of the world straight in His own time.
22 The time came for the Feast of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, 23 and Jesus was walking in the Temple in Solomon’s Porch. 24 The Jews gathered around him and said, “How long will you make us wonder about you? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” 25 Jesus answered, “I told you already, but you did not believe. The miracles I do in my Father’s name show who I am. 26 But you don’t believe, because you are not my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never die, and no one can steal them out of my hand. 29 My Father gave my sheep to me. He is greater than all, and no person can steal my sheep out of my Father’s hand.—John 10:22-29 (NCV)
What a tremendous, magnificent, awesome promise!!! They will never die! And that promise is still in effect today. These old bodies that we wear around will one day give out, but we, our soul, will never die! Once we have accepted Jesus and the Holy Spirit abides in us, we are assured that we will never die. Guaranteed!! 13 So it is with you. When you heard the true teaching—the Good News about your salvation—you believed in Christ. And in Christ, God put his special mark of ownership on you by giving you the Holy Spirit that he had promised. 14 That Holy Spirit is the guarantee that we will receive what God promised for his people until God gives full freedom to those who are his—to bring praise to God’s glory—Ephesians 1:13, 14 (NCV)
No person or no thing can take us out of the hands of Jesus because God is greater than all and no one can defeat Him or His purpose. We will have new bodies and live forever with Christ Jesus, our Savior and Lord. 16 From this time on we do not think of anyone as the world does. In the past we thought of Christ as the world thinks, but we no longer think of him in that way. 17 If anyone belongs to Christ, there is a new creation. The old things have gone; everything is made new! 18 All this is from God. Through Christ, God made peace between us and himself, and God gave us the work of telling everyone about the peace we can have with him.—1 Cor. 5:16-18 (NCV)
9 The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls. 10 This salvation was something even the prophets wanted to know more about when they prophesied about this gracious salvation prepared for you. 11 They wondered what time or situation the Spirit of Christ within them was talking about when he told them in advance about Christ’s suffering and his great glory afterward. 12 They were told that their messages were not for themselves, but for you. And now this Good News has been announced to you by those who preached in the power of the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. It is all so wonderful that even the angels are eagerly watching these things happen.—1 Peter 1:9-12 (NLT)
Can you imagine the amazement and awe that the Old Testament prophets must have felt when the Spirit inspired them to prophesy about the Messiah. A future hope that their eyes would not see. Can you imagine that they wondered, “why would this Messiah have to suffer so”? Yet they were faithful in telling about a Savior that was coming to redeem a fallen world, even though the message was not for them, but for us. They looked forward and wondered. We look back and know the truth about the Good News. The first century preachers were anointed with the Holy Spirit and were faithful to spread the Good News. Now, it is our turn to be faithful and spread the Gospel as we look forward to our soon-coming King. Like the prophets of old, we may not be alive to see Him return, but it is still the Hope of those who love Him. The Hope and the knowledge that one day, we will all rise to meet Him in the air. Altogether, He will take us home to be with Him in glory! Can you say Hallelujah!! Amen!!?