The Fiery Trial
Original Secession Magazine
Daniel 3:12-18
There are certain Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; these men…

Not unwisely did an old Scottish matron once remark, that "It is easy to utter the fourth petition of the Lord's Prayer, when there is plenty of bread in the house." If, however, one has no supply, and is without the means of procuring a morsel, strong faith is required to present the supplication aright. Similarly, it may be averred that it is easy to confess Christ when no pains and penalties are attached to the avowal of belief in Him. Most probably the self-confident and boastful would fail in such a testing time; while the meek and retiring would be borne through, because constrained by felt weakness to lean on the Almighty arm. It has been often and truly said, that dying grace is not given till the dying hour; neither is the grace of humble boldness in the cause of the Lord fully conferred, till there arise an occasion demanding its exercise. Twenty-three years appear by this time to have passed since Daniel was elevated to the position of ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and his three special friends made governors of subordinate districts. Meanwhile, much prosperity had been experienced by the empire in all departments. Nebuchadnezzar, it is believed, had during these years overcome not a few kingdoms bordering on his own. Egypt had fallen under his sway, exactly as Jeremiah had prophesied; and to the west or the south of Chaldea there were none strong enough to dispute the sovereignty of the king of Babylon. Forgetting the lesson that had been taught him by his dream regarding the compound image, he began to fancy that to his idol-god Bel, or Baal, his great success was wholly due. Evidently without asking advice from Daniel, he proposed to force all who were under his government to do homage to this idol. As many various nations had been compelled to submit to himself, he was resolved that they should also worship his god. Where was Daniel at this period? Possibly he had already told his master that he must be excused from attending at the dedication of the image; and as the king could not run the risk of losing his services, his absence was permitted. Possibly he may have been in attendance of the monarch during the worship of the idol, and refused to bow down before it; but his great influence prevented anyone from daring to accuse him. But much more probable is it that he was absent from the capital, and engaged at a distance in connection with some pressing business of the State. He may have been even sent away purposely by the king, and thus have had no opportunity of taking part with his brethren in their protest against idolatry. Had he been present, we may well judge that he would either have stood beside them, as being guilty like themselves, or, if unaccused himself, would have used his utmost efforts with Nebuchadnezzar on their behalf. The monarch was much excited. He caused Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego to be instantly brought before him. Plainly did he repeat his command, that bow they must to his idol, or die.

I. WE SHOULD PREFER SUFFERING TO SIN. To have bowed the knee to the golden image on the plain of Dura would have been an aggravated transgression on the part of any of the sons of Jacob. They knew well that there was no other God but the God of Israel, and the first and second commandments of the moral law strictly forbade such an act. Better to run the risk of the threatened punishment than, by yielding, to dishonour their Creator, and cast away their souls. Marvellously were these confessors of Jehovah rescued from the devouring fire; for the Lord, whom they honoured, had great purposes to serve by their preservation. Suppose, however, they had been burned to ashes, would they have been losers by their fidelity? Assuredly not! Only the sooner had they reached the rest that remaineth to the people of God. An early confessor of the Lord Jesus was summoned to the presence of the Emperor of Rome, and threatened with banishment, if be dared to remain a Christian. "Me thou canst not banish," was the noble answer, "for the world is my Father's house." "But I will take thy life," said the Emperor. "Nay, but thou canst not, sire, for my life is hid with Christ in God." a I will deprive thee of thy treasures," continued the Emperor. "I have no treasures that thou canst seize," was the response, "for my treasure is in heaven, and my heart is there." "But I will drive thee away from man, and thou shalt have no friend left," "Nay, that thou canst not," replied the bold and faithful witness, "for I have a Friend in heaven, from whom thou canst not separate me. I defy thee. There is nothing thou canst do to hurt me." Where the risk of loss is greatly less than in the case in which we have just referred, it is always far better to suffer than to sin. The draper lad in the north of Ireland, who would not assist his employer to cheat a customer, and was turned adrift in consequence, was no loser by his integrity. Through this very circumstance he became a minister of the gospel, and afterwards rose to an eminent position in his profession. There is little likelihood that any of us will be exposed to such a fiery ordeal as the three Jews in Babylon. We may, however, have to meet with much petty persecution, if we faithfully follow the Lamb, and show by our lives that we are His.

II. LET US TAKE CARE THAT WE FOLLOW NOT DOWN BEFORE THE GOLDEN IMAGE ERECTED AMONGST OURSELVES. Not in Britain only, but in every land under the sun, does this idol lift up its head. Those who worship at its shrine probably embrace by far the largest number of every kindred, and tribe, and nation. "Thou shalt have no other gods before me," says Jehovah. Yet in the very temple of God is this idol set up by its votaries, and crowds of worshippers devotedly bend the knee. No sweet music of sackbut, or psaltery, or harp, is needed to induce men to adore. This idolatry is even considered respectable. In America this idol is irreverently known by the name of "The Almighty Dollar"; with us it is simply called wealth or money. A mercantile man, who had an extensive acquaintance with various classes of the community, used to state it as his serious opinion that the love of money ruins perhaps more souls than even strong drink. Like other sins, this mammon-worship never dwells alone. In due time it becomes the fruitful parent of many vile things, which will, ultimately, develope into scorpions, to torment the soul that nourished them. How comforting it is to know that imperishable and unalienable wealth can be had simply for the accepting. "The GIFT of God is eternal life, and this life is in His Son."

(Original Secession Magazine.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: There are certain Jews whom thou hast set over the affairs of the province of Babylon, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; these men, O king, have not regarded thee: they serve not thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.

WEB: There are certain Jews whom you have appointed over the affairs of the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; these men, O king, have not respected you. They don't serve your gods, nor worship the golden image which you have set up.

The Fiery Furnace; Or, True Principle Exemplified
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