The Fiery Furnace
Our God Reigns!
Just let me say, that this weekend, those words took on a whole new meaning for me. You see, this past weekend I got to spend a few hours working with molten glass. For a long time, I have wanted to try my hand at glass making. Not sure why, really. It has just drawn me anytime I see beautiful glass creations. So, for Mother’s Day, my husband decided to indulge my artsy side and paid for me to take a class with a glass artist.
Saturday morning, my dear friend and I, dressed in all our finery…and I am talking sweats…headed to Dayton into the unknown. Of course, we showed up 7 minutes late and the instructor made sure to point that out in front of the other 18 students. So, not only was I mortified that I was out in public in my elastic-at-the-ankle-sweats, now I was afraid I was about to be kicked out or penalized. Thankfully, the instructor was kindly and had his apprentice pull out a couple more chairs.
We sat for some time listening to the history of glass making and some of the chemistry that goes into it. May sound boring to some, but it was riveting. So much I really never knew about something so pivotal in history. Glass was a game changer in history. Don’t believe me? Check out how fiber optics are allowing you to use that high-speed internet connection right now!
After a demonstration of what we were to do and we were ready to get started, we were already sweltering from the heat of the furnace and the “glory hole” and we were a good 30 feet away from it. But, before we could get started, the instructor wanted us to respect the heat we were about to face with a healthy fear. So, one by one, we each walked up to the opening of the furnace…the furnace that runs at 2400 degrees farenheit for 9 months of the year and holds 1000 lbs of molten glass. Here’s a little something you might not know…molten glass in a 2400 degree furnace is completely transparent. The challenge he gave us was to look in the furnace to see if we could actually see the top of the glass. He assured us that when he asked us if we could see it that he would know if we were lying, because he knew where our little eyeballs should be looking. So, when my turn came to peer into the oven, the heat was unrelenting. It immediately dried my eyes and I could actually feel it pressing against me. The instructor asked me if I could see the glass. Of course, I could not because it was transparent and being the “black and white girl” I am, knowing that he would know if I lied, I was completely honest and told him no. Now mind you, this meant I had to stand there and literally bake a little longer because this guy really wanted me to see it. After the third time he asked me, as he kept poking around the molten glass with his gathering tool, I was finally able to see it (I think).
As I stood there in front of the blast from this furnace, whose opening couldn’t have been more than 2 feet by 3 feet, I couldn’t help but think of Shad, Rach and Benny, as the Veggie Tales would say…also known in the Bible as Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. They refused to bow to King Nebby K Nezzar’s (Nebuchadnezzar) golden statue and therefore were sentenced to be thrown into the fiery furnace. That was a different furnace altogether, but nonetheless HOT. As these three friends are brought before the King, they never back down. Never waiver. They boldly declare that their God will save them and even if He chooses not to save them, they will never worship another god. So, off they go to the furnace. This furnace must have been a sight to behold. Scholars speculate that it was probably a furnace used to cure the bricks on which the golden idol stood. This brick furnace, or kiln, would have been approximately 2 stories tall, as the guards had to take them up to put them in and obviously it was big enough inside for four men to walk around. And, we know it was hot. As a matter of fact, the king was so upset he ordered it to be made 7 times hotter than usual. It was so hot that the guards who took the three Israelites up to throw them in were killed instantly from the blast at the top of the furnace and Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego fell in. Now, I am thinking ole King Nebby K Nezzar had an inkling that something supernatural was up before he saw these three plus their “Heavenly companion” in the furnace. But, the Bible says he leapt to his feet in amazement when he saw not 3, but 4 figures in the furnace and that they were not even harmed by the flames. (You can check out the whole story in Daniel 3.)
I am just here to tell you, I cannot imagine the faith of these men! I stood in front of a small opening and could hardly handle the heat. If someone had told me I would have to get in that oven,that they were going to throw me in it, I would have been running for dear life! My natural fight or flight instinct would have kicked in, especially when the guards who were to throw them in fell dead at the opening of the furnace. Then, as they fell into the furnace…wow! But, these men were resolute in their faith. Never wavering. Never questioning. Never doubting. And, it wasn’t that they knew God was going to spare their lives. They did NOT. They simply knew that their God was able to do the impossible and would if He chose to. They were also confident that theirs was a God worth dying for.
So, as I sit here this evening pondering all of this, I wonder if I am that convinced. Am I convinced that my God is a God of the impossible? When I face the heat of another day, the stuff in life that just seems unbearable, am I convinced beyond the shadow of a doubt that my God can intervene? Or, the question, the really hard question is, if He doesn’t intervene, if the flames are rising and about to overtake me, am I willing to die or would I just bow down to save my own skin? Most days, I would like to say that I am that girl, strong and resolute…but honestly, there are lots of days where I am not.
Oh, that the words of the changed heart of that Babylonian king would ring through my life today and everyday…”NO other god can save in this way.” Oh friends…ain’t that the truth!
Our God Reigns!