Long Shots

make faith different.

Daniel 3:19–23

Then Nebuchadnezzar was full of fury, and the expression on his face changed toward Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. He spoke and commanded that they heat the furnace seven times more than it was usually heated. And he commanded certain mighty men of valor who were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, and cast them into the burning fiery furnace. Then these men were bound in their coats, their trousers, their turbans, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. Therefore, because the king’s command was urgent, and the furnace exceedingly hot, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.

Do not miss how incredibly evil this is. Nebuchadnezzar really is burning them alive for the “crime” of refusing to bow down to a statue. Obviously, his path to faith is still a long way from complete.

Note that the number seven shouldn’t be taken as a literal multiplier here. The Babylonians have no concept of something being heated to seven times as hot. The number seven is just symbolic of a great amount.

This intensity is confirmed by the next detail. Therefore, because the king’s command was urgent, and the furnace exceedingly hot, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego.

The dramatic point is being made—there’s no way the three youth are going to survive this.

The past year has seen several amazing answers to prayer in some of the groups I’m involved with. It’s been beautiful but also intimidating. Something’s up.

One offshoot of this is that I’ve developed a fondness for the long shots—the prayers which, if granted, don’t inspire even a hint of, say, being thankful for modern medicine. All the glory goes to God.

I’ll pray for anything people ask for, but recently the prayer requests that really float my boat are when people need a miracle. I’ve seen quite a few come through lately, and there are no words for how thrilling that is.

I thought I had faith before, but it’s different now.

Still, that’s nothing compared to what Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego are up against in this chapter. Not only do they need a miracle, they literally put their lives on the line.

I only commit time and emotion to my long shots.

They’re committing everything.

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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