Divine protection when persecuted – Part 1
Unknown to many people, there are some kinds of questions that naturally provoke God to action. Such questions might intimidate the fearful, but they embolden the faithful, whose hearts are full of faith in their God. “But if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?” What a question! It is a question that always provokes divine action, a question that produces supernatural miracle, a question that demands the manifestation of God’s supremacy and extra-ordinary power.
When unbelieving despots ask such questions, God always responds to protect His own and to silence the blasphemer. The same boastful king who threatened: “And who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?” (Daniel 3:15), later confessed that, “there is no other God that can deliver after this sort… Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and His ways judgment: and those that walk in pride He is able to abase” (Daniel 3:29; 4:37). Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, also asked a similar blasphemous question and later received a sudden, shocking and supernatural answer in devastating signs and wonders (Exodus 5:2; 10:16,17; 12:31,32; 14:25,31).
Sennacherib, the king of Assyria during the reign of Hezekiah over Judah also asked, “Who are they among all the gods of the countries, that have delivered their country out of mine hand, that the LORD should deliver Jerusalem out of mine hand?” (2 Kings 18:35). With one stroke of supernatural judgment, 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians were stricken dead and the king himself was smitten with the sword of his own sons (2 Kings 19:35-37). The Creator of heaven and earth is too great and mighty to be challenged by any of His creatures. The Potter is too powerful and irresistible to be reproached by the clay (Romans 9:20). True believers can rest, unmoved, in the face of any provocation or pressure from our persecutors and our adversaries. “Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace” (Daniel 3:17).
God loves faithful, uncompromising believers. Non-conformists who refuse to be conformed to this world are His delight. Yet, we must remember that the world and the gods of this world hate whatever and whoever God loves. Nebuchadnezzar, the Gentile king, was enraged by the refusal of these three faithful, Shedrach, Meshach and Abednego, to worship his image. In his rage, the tyrannical idol worshipper invented a more strange and cruel punishment for these God-honouring saints. And these saintly servants of God remained calm, patient and constant in their devotion to God. They knew that God had power to deliver them from death, or if He so desired, to take them to a better place than this world, to deliver them from the despot forever.
The king was not only furious, he was also infuriated. “He commanded that they should heat the furnace one seven times more than it was wont to be heated.” The great intensity of the heat of his fury could not be satisfied without a greater intensity of heat in the furnace. His anger was visible for all to see. Being “full of fury, the form of his visage was changed” (verse 19). Betrayed in his whole comportment and countenance, he ordered that the heat of the furnace be increased to the highest possible. Passion overdid and defeated its own end, for, the hotter the fire, the sooner were they likely to be put out of pain. Would men in a passion but view their faces in a mirror, they would be startled at their own folly and turn all their displeasure against themselves.
We need not be frightened by the rage, fury and devices of persecutors. Persecution purifies and preserves the true children of God. It revives our dormant faith in some forgotten promises of God (for example, Isaiah 43:2). It brings God’s omnipotence and faithfulness nearer in manifestation. Persecution drives us to prayer and makes us more dependent on God.
Further Reading (King James Version): Daniel 3:19-30; Daniel 3:19-23; 1 Kings 19:1,2; 22:13,14,23,24; Esther 3:3-6; Daniel 6:10-17; Mark 6:17-20; John 15:18-21; 1 Peter 4:3,4; Acts 16:19-26; 2 Timothy 3:12-14.
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