For the last couple of weeks, I have been contemplating on the sovereignty of God. A lot has happened to me within those couple of weeks that for some people would make them turn away from God and harbor bitterness in their hearts. But for me, that is not the case at all.
I was reading Daniel chapter 3 in my private bible study. It has always been one of my favorite bible stories, but this time, the story came to life in a new and refreshing way. Daniel’s friends Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were faced with dilemma: worship a false idol or be put to death. What amazed me was their response to the King when he inquired of them why they did not obey his decree. They said :
“King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you 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 or worship the image of gold you have set up.” (Daniel 3: 16-18)
*SQUEALS* I’m sorry but every time I read this I get excited! Insert Laugh here.
But seriously, look at what they said! These three young men, in the face of death (in this day and age, we would say they were rebellious and defied authority) told the King that they made a choice. Their choice was to never bow down. First, they believed that God was more powerful than the King and could rescue them. But check this out. They knew God was not a genie to grant them their wishes. They truly believed He is a good God and could save them but they left their fate in the hands of God.
Ask yourself this question : What idols do I have in my life? Idols can come in the form of people, objects, goals/aspirations, our career and ideologies. As I was taking a good look at my environment, I realized that there were many people that were trying to take God’s place in my life. I also recognized that I was allowing it in some cases. Nothing can become an idol without our permission.
Like these men, I had to say from my heart that I will serve the Lord even if He never rescues me. I first had to believe He had the power to rescue me but even if he doesn’t, He is still my God and I will bow to no other. I made up my mind to work, live and serve as a child of God. When situations arise in my life, I had to always declare that I will serve no other gods. Persecution, lack of all kinds, hurt and pain, sickness and diseases will not turn me away from God.
In my recent pain, I had to “set my face like flint” and confess that I will never ever turn away from God. It doesn’t matter what happens, God must come first in my life.
It’s more than going to church on Sunday, looking modest in apparel. It’s even more than exchanging sweet words of encouragement to our brothers and sisters in Christ. It’s about looking at God as a loving and sovereign king. Who is bigger and badder than all. No demon, no human, and no angel can mess with my bad God. He is God all by himself and He chose to rescue me from myself. All the other things I mentioned are important but they flow from an intimate relationship with God. A relationship that transcends anything else.
When we believe that our good deeds, our church attendance, our modest apparel, and how often we read the bible determines our relationship with God, we run the risk of allowing these very things to become idols. These behaviors must flow out of our love for God and not be the means to reach a goal.
True love is not sentimental gush. It is not mushy romance or an idealistic view but the truth of the Word of God made manifest through Christ and through true intimacy with Him. It is not a merit badge, a flag to wave. It is not a fake handshake and a smile to keep up appearances in Church. It is not click groups, it is not title or position. It is not tallying up how many good deeds you did in a year. It is not how many tithes and offerings you give. It is not measured by who loves you or don’t. It is not measured by how beautiful or intelligent you are.
It is truly about intimacy: an openness to God. Being honest with Him. Going to Him first with everything. Being open to what He wants for you. It might look different from everyone else. Apostle Paul’s ministry was so different : He was a Jew preaching to the gentiles. No one might understand what God is doing in your life, but will you bow down to their idea of how your life should be or who God called you to be? When you read the Bible, do you read it to learn more about God and to draw closer to him, or use it as a self help-manual, treat it as a bullet on your to-do list or as a rod to whip people with?
Daniel’s friends were finally tossed into a very very hot furnace. It was so hot that it killed the King’s obedient guards. What happened next shook that King to the core! He looked down and saw that these three men were not only untied but unharmed and what looked like to be the “son of gods” was walking around with them!
Let me break this down for y’all! I’m weeping while writing this.
When you decide to obey God and not bow down to idols, this is what God does….whether or not you die in the furnace YOU WIN! When you face persecution from both the saved and the unsaved, the pharisees and the roman guards, God has a way of coming down….making himself available to you in the fire. He doesn’t just rescue you by removing you from the heat. He will untie the things that use to keep you bound. Untie the burdens that keeps you from walking around. Not only does He untie you but He dwells among you. He places Himself in your situation. When people watch you walk around in the flames, they see you untouched and unharmed. And when you walk out, you will not smell like smoke. Nothing will harm you! While this is a physical representation, I see this as spiritual! You come out with your faith in God intact! They may even try to kill you and even if they succeed, they cannot take God away from you! God will give you strength and peace to go through it all. It isn’t about having a happy smiling face, it isn’t about never crying and pretending to be so brave and strong. It is whatever you choose to do: smile or cry, you say in your heart : I will not Bow!
The King, shocked and in awe declared this :
“Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!”
“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. Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way.” (Daniel 3: 26; 28:29)
When God steps in because of your unwavering faith in Him, people will see and declare that God is the most high! They won’t be able to deny that God is the true and living God and all power belongs to Him.
El Elyon the most high God. What does this mean? It stood out to me.
“The name or title “Elyon” emphasizes God’s uniqueness and his supremacy above all others. It reminds us he is the Creator of heaven and earth and the Owner of all. He is not merely mighty, but Almighty. He is the Sovereign Possessor and Controller of all things. Elyon sovereignly delivers his children and sovereignly accomplishes his purpose even in their suffering, which itself is temporary and will be followed by the eternal refreshment he promises to bestow on them.” (Source)
- I cry out to God Most High, to God, who fulfills his purpose for me (Psalm 57:2).
- If you make the Most High your dwelling, even the LORD, who is my refuge, then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone (Psalm 91:9-12).
- “But the saints of the Most High will receive the kingdom and will possess it forever; yes, for ever and ever” (Daniel 7:18).