“What furnace?” you may be asking.
Well, though it’s been a pretty cold winter in the northern climes and our furnaces have been in active use keeping us warm, I’m not talking about those devices.
No, I’m speaking of the fiery furnace that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were thrown into as a punishment for not worshipping pagan idolatry (The Book of Daniel, Chapter 3).
You’ll recall that despite Nebuchadnezzar’s fury and wrath which led to their being condemned to death in the furnace—a furnace that had been superheated seven times more than normal—these three devout men would not yield to error’s threats. They would not bow down to evil.
They would not forsake their worship of God!
And God did not forsake them—no, not for a moment!
They emerged untouched by the flames. Bodies unharmed. Not a single hair on their heads singed. Not even the smell of fire had passed on them.
Without a doubt, this was a wonderful example of the power of our omnipotent and omnipresent God to deliver us from any and all claims of evil.
But the account doesn’t stop there.
After the fiery furnace, not only was Nebuchadnezzar’s position on the Hebrew God radically reversed, but Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were also promoted in their service to the king.
This is an important lesson for us all.
We cannot be made to go back into the furnace after God has lifted us out of it!
You might be wondering: “Why would I want to?”
Well, I certainly hope you wouldn’t.
But the subtleties of the serpent are, by their very “nature,” not always obvious.
Let me give you some examples of what I’m talking about.
Perhaps, you’ve experienced a bad marriage or relationship that has ended—a relationship in which the other individual has been abusive in some form, or has indulged in infidelities. Are you feeling such a vacuum, such a sense of loss and loneliness, that you find yourself wistfully missing that individual—even glossing over their erroneous actions?
Or maybe you’ve had to leave an employment position due to either the employer’s or your fellow employees’ aggressive responses to you—no matter how much you tried to resolve it spiritually. Are you yearning to prove to them in some fashion that you were right all along—in some misguided sense of validation?
Or are you tempted to mentally “relive” the darkness of an illness that you’ve already been healed of—a temptation meant to engulf you in a twisted and deluded sense of nobility or courage about how hard it all was? About all that you had to go through?
And finally, do you find yourself feeling any emotional reaction to or fear of the “memory” or images of these things—responses other than supreme gratitude to your Father-Mother God for saving you, and for teaching you whatever spiritual lessons you needed to learn?
If the answer is “yes” to any of the above, you can be sure that the carnal mind is tempting you to jump back into the flames—is working overtime to have the smell of fire be upon you.
All to what end?
To keep you living in the belief of the past—a belief of separation from God.
To prevent you from going forward in your God-given mission to serve Him by healing the sick and reforming the sinner.
Let’s not forget that the Apostle Paul wrote:
…forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-14)
That prize of the high calling of God—in the way that Jesus demonstrated God’s allness—is what we should be reaching for.
Not the furnace door!