On June 21st, members gathered at the Europe Olivet Center to offer a Sunday service to God, with Pastor Andrew Clark sharing a sermon looking at the unconditional faith that is shown in the story of the Daniel 3.
It is easy to have faith when things go well, but can we also have faith when the circumstances are difficult, or when our plans don’t go exactly how we hoped? True faith is not revealed when times are easy, but it is when difficulties arise that we are able to see clearly whether we have shallow or deep faith.
In Daniel 3, the king of the Babylonians, Nebuchadnezzar, creates a giant gold idol and commands all the people to bow down to it. However, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refuse to do so. Despite the shadow of death hanging over them, they have absolute faith in God, believing that even though they are thrown into the furnace, God has the power to save them. They believe absolutely that God is able, and God is faithful. Already, in the face of such adversity this is amazing faith, and is a strong faith that most would struggle to have in this world. But the extraordinary thing that comes out next is that their faith goes to an even deeper level still. They testify that “even if God does not” save them from the blazing furnace, they will still not turn from Him, and will still have put their trust in the Lord no matter what. What is revealed here is unshakable and unconditional faith.
In our life there will be many tests that come to us. Satan knows our fleshly desires and weaknesses and he will come to try and tempt us and make us stumble when things are difficult, or things appear like they are not going well. However, believing that God knows what is best for us, trusting 100% in His love towards us, and laying down all our own thoughts and plans to follow Him by faith alone – the ones who have this kind of faith will never be shaken by Satan.
We need to inherit the faith of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, entrusting all things to the Lord no matter what. Just like Abraham who trusted God, even if it meant giving up the thing he loved the most in his life when God asked for Isaac. Even though there is no way for Abraham to understand with any logic what was happening, and why God would be leading his life in that way. Yet, the faith of Abraham was that he laid down all his own thoughts and plans, and he obeyed and followed the Lord, entrusting everything to Him.
The gospel that we follow and live for is unconditional love and faith, it is not lawful. It is not that we follow, and have faith and love only IF God will give me this, or lead our lives how we expect. The Gospel is that even when we were absolute sinners and even enemies of God, He gave His one and only son for us. His love for us was unconditional and unchanging since the beginning of creation. Despite the pain of the fall of man, and the betrayal of mankind throughout history, God has never given up on us, and His love and faith towards us endures and never changes.
So the faith we need to have is faith in this amazing love of God. Because we know God loves us, we know our heavenly Father wants to bless more. His ways are higher than ours, and so if He guides us a path that seems different to our own thoughts, we should lay down ourselves and set up our full trust and faith in Him, that He is guiding us to the better place of blessings.
In Daniel 3, we can see that when the 3 friends of Daniel declared this amazing faith, it’s not that things got better for them right away. In fact, they seemed to get much worse; the king was furious, he ordered the furnace be made 7 times hotter, and that they be thrown in. With our own thoughts, we would expect God should save the 3 friends before they are thrown in the furnace. However, God allows them to be thrown in. It’s something that is incomprehensible! He allowed them to face death.
Even until the end, as the 3 friends stood in front of the furnace they could have shaken, but up until the last moment they remained absolutely faithful even in the place of despair.
But then an amazing miracle was revealed. The king peered into the furnace and saw the 3 walking around, and not only that, but there was a fourth person who looks like the son of God walking with them in the fiery furnace.
We have to know that when we are in pain, or in the place of despair, God is always with us. He does not ask us to walk through the valley of death alone, but He promises He will never leave our side. God will carry all the pain and suffering and difficulties, if we hand them over to Him. We are told not a hair on their heads was scorched or harmed. This is the faithfulness and protection that the God of love gives to those who are faithful to Him.
In the end, we are able to see that Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were not only saved, but also glory of God is revealed amazingly, as the king was completely turned over. The king delcares there is no other God in this world that saves like the God of Israel, and commands no one in the kingdom is to say anything against this God. Even the most powerful king in the world at the time is humbled before the God of salvation.
The congregation was urged to reflect on their faith, and to deepen their faith through the Word and prayer. Even if our plans don’t go to our thoughts, even if we are led to a path that seems more difficult, even if we are led to a place of despair – we should stand strong in our faith. God loves us, and we can entrust all things to Him. When we have this faith we will not despair or be shaken, but a peace that comes only through faith in Jesus Christ can be ours. Let us have the faith to truly praise God in every and all situations.