Three young men have been summoned to appear before the most powerful man on the planet.
They are guilty of refusing to obey that man’s command: to bow in worship before a great golden image he has erected.
The huge furnace that produced the metal for that idol has been designated as the place of execution for any who might decide not to comply with the royal decree. It is red hot, and now it appears as if its first customers are in line.
“Is it true,” Nebuchadnezzar asks of the three young Jews — Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego — “that you do not serve my gods or worship the gold image which I have set up?” (Daniel 3:14).
He already knows the answer to that question, but he offers them a second chance, saying that if, when the national anthem is played again, they bow down with the rest of his subjects, they can go free.
Otherwise they will be roasted alive in the furnace.
Their answer is one of the great classics of all time in regard to the faith of believers: “Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace ... but if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up” (verses 17, 18).
“Our God is able.”
Can we say that with the same bold assurance of these young men?
Or have we set a limit to what we believe that God is able to do?
We may believe in a God who is able to provide food and a warm home for us in winter, but do we believe He is able to give us victory over our selfishness and lack of concern for the less-fortunate?
We may believe in a God who is able to send snow and rain in time of drought, but doubt that He has power to deliver us from depression, anxiety or a physical addiction such as to alcohol or tobacco.
The Bible says we have a Savior “who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,” (Ephesians 3:20, emphasis supplied).
He is able to do all that we ask and much more, but we must ask.
He must be invited to enter and to take the helm.
Once that invitation has been extended, we can count on Him as One “who is able to keep you from falling and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy” (Jude 24, emphasis supplied).
“Faultless” takes in every human failing. Appetite, lust, ill temper, spousal abuse, greed, self-centeredness — nothing is left off the list.
God is waiting for us to exercise our power of choice. Our consent enables Him to do what needs to be done.
Few texts describe the God of unlimited power like Jeremiah 32:17: “Ah Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm.
“There is nothing too hard for You” (Jeremiah 32:17).
The power to create and uphold such a fantastically complex universe should convince us that He is well able to solve the issues we face in our day-to-day living.
So let’s take our stand beside those young men who braved the fiery furnace so long ago. And let’s take note that they not only had great faith in the power of God but also in the will of God.
“But if not,” they said. “If it is not God’s will that we be delivered from death, that doesn’t change who He is.
“He is still the true God, the only God worthy of worship. Whether we live or die, our future with Him is sure.”
As it turns out, Jesus walked with them into the blazing inferno, turning it into an air-conditioned living room.
We, too, can trust the God who is able.
Lee Roy Holmes is a retired Seventh-day Adventist pastor. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Pastors in the U-B circulation area who want to write a column should contact Catherine Hicks at 509-526-8312, or by email at email@example.com.