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"Nor... the Smell of Fire..."
Reading: Daniel 3:16-27 and I Peter 1:6-8 (ASV).
"Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, ‘0 Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer thee in this matter. 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, 0 king. But if not, be it known unto thee, 0 king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.’ Then was Nebuchadnezzar full of fury, and the form of his visage was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego: therefore he spake, and commanded that they should heat the furnace seven times more than it was wont to be heated.
"And he commanded certain mighty men that were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace. Then these men were bound in their hosen, their tunics, and their mantles, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. Therefore because the king's commandment was urgent, and the furnace exceeding hot, the flame of the fire slew those men that took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
"And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonished, and rose up in haste: he spake, and said unto his counsellors, ‘Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?’ They answered and said unto the king, ‘True, 0 king.’ He answered and said, ‘Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the aspect of the fourth is like a son of the gods.’
"Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace: he spake and said, ‘Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, ye servants of the Most High God, come forth, and come hither.’ Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, came forth out of the midst of the fire. And the satraps, the deputies, and the governors, and the king's counsellors, being gathered together, saw these men, that the fire had no power upon their bodies, nor was the hair of their head singed, neither were their hosen changed, nor had the smell of fire passed on them" (Daniel 3:16-27).
"Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, ye have been put to grief in manifold trials, that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold that perisheth though it is proved by fire, may be found unto praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ: whom not having seen ye love; on whom, though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice greatly with joy unspeakable and full of glory" (I Peter 1:6-8).
"The trial of your faith." Let us consider four things that are the outcome of the trial.
The Outcome of Trial
(1) The Self-Destruction of the Enemy
How wonderfully above the situation these three men were! With the prospect of the trial, with the threat over their heads, how utterly careless about answering the king! "We have no need to answer thee in this matter." There was a settled confidence of heart, the outcome of an integrity of life and walk before God. Their concern was that they should not in any respect be found in compromise of their relationship to the Most High God. Threaten them with a fiery furnace, they are quite above it all. And the first effect of the bringing of these men into that trial justified their confidence, because the very means that were used of the enemy to compel them into the fire were consumed by the fire.
If our lives are in an utter position in relation to the Lord Whom we confess and serve, we have no need to fear the fire. We shall certainly be wise not to invite the fire; but in the course of our life and our testimony, if and as the fire comes we have no need to fear. The very means that the enemy uses to bring about the fiery condition will be consumed. That is a very solemn word for any who would be found creating fiery conditions for the saints. The saints' concern must be their relationship to the Lord.
(2) The Loosing of Bonds
Another outcome of the fire is the loosing of bonds. Are you in the fire? Have you got a satisfactory reason for being there? Here is one; it may apply to you; the fire is ordained of God for the very purpose of loosing you from bonds. Yes, the limitations that circumstances and conditions outside of us put upon us, the frustrations of which we are so conscious, they are dealt with in the fire.
But what about the limitations, the bonds, that are peculiarly ours, within us - the bonds of our makeup, the features of our temperaments? The same is true. Here is a loving God ordaining the fire and allowing the enemy to stoke it to a sevenfold heat, with the purpose, in the heart of God, of loosing us from bonds. Oh, is this happening with us? The fires are being heated to an intensity that we never thought possible for us to endure; are we being liberated by them? Are we coming into the glorious liberty of the children of God? Are we being rid of those things that have so marred our life, our testimony, our ministry?
Maybe you are feeling that you have not got any bonds. Well, some of us have, and some of us are satisfied that this is what God is doing in the fire. There is a loosing in the fire.
(3) Closer Fellowship with the Lord
Another thing that happens in the fire is that these three men are found with One with them in closer fellowship and company than they have ever known before. We know a little about that, do we not? - in the fire, coming to a knowledge of our Lord. We come through the phase of fire and say, "I would never have known the Lord in this way but for that; it was in the fire that I found Him in these terms. I knew all about the theory of it before, but I got hold of the reality there." One "like a son of the gods" so says Nebuchadnezzar in his ignorance, but, as far as we are concerned, it is "the Son of God"; all through the fire, in fellowship with our beloved Lord. Well, the fire is justified.