Nebuchadnezzar went near the opening of the furnace of flaming fire and said, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!” Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out of the fire. The chief administrators, ministers, governors, and the king’s associates crowded around to look at them. The fire hadn’t done anything to them: their hair wasn’t singed; their garments looked the same as before; they didn’t even smell like fire! -Daniel 3:26-27 (CEB)
It’s easy to think that whatever trial we are in the midst of is always going to be with us and has somehow become our new reality. I suspect the three friends of Daniel who were doomed to enter the fiery furnace were thinking they might not come out alive. Job probably thought all of his best days were behind him as he wondered why God took all the things he cherished away. Despite what surely seemed to be the concluding chapter of his life, he kept his faith (although while fighting doubt and certainly some self-pity). In the end, he passed through the trials and came out better off for it. In the end, Daniel’s friends (Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego) passed through the door into the furnace and then back out, unscathed.
You will forget your misery; you will remember it as waters that have passed away. -Job 11:16 (NRSV)
The Bible clearly tells us in many ways time and time again not to sit in whatever we’re going through and make it our new reality. Life is full of bumps in the road. Such things are navigable with the help of the Holy Spirit, His Word and a dash of perseverance.
REDEEM: compensate for the faults or bad aspects of (something).
“a disappointing debate redeemed only by an outstanding speech”
synonyms: save, compensate for the defects of, vindicate
By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace. -Hebrews 11:31
Last night I listened to a broadcast of Kenneth Copeland preaching on the topic of how God’s kindness to the rejected is apparent. The focus was on the story of Rahab in Joshua chapter 2 and how she ends up being used by God. The interesting thing about her was that she was a prostitute (“harlot” as the KJV puts it) who finds herself redeemed by God and playing an important role in a Bible story– as well as in the genealogy of our Lord Jesus. In Matthew Henry’s comments concerning Rahab, Matthew chapter 1 in the Matthew Henry Study Bible, he mentions that, aside from her, two other women [of the 4 mentioned in the line to Christ] were considered adultresses and the other a foreigner (an automatic ‘less-than’ during that time period among the people of Israel). Thus, all 4 of them had issues that might disqualify them from positions of respect– even in today’s more tolerant world (at least among certain fundamental sects). It is interesting how God uses what we would reject as unsuitable for the purposes of His kingdom. I venture to guess that there were probably some pretty good, kind people who lived there (by human standards) that were destroyed– yet the prostitute was spared! When I am quick to judge others or look down on them, I am well advised to think about how some of the “Biblical heroes” had some pretty serious shortcomings. How much blood did King David have on his hands? How many wives did “wise Solomon” have? Did Noah not get drunk and find himself in an embarrassing situation? I don’t point these things out to disrespect them as men of faith, but to point out that they too (like the rest of us) fall short of the glory of God and need His grace to establish a relationship with Him. All of them are noted for acts that obviously took some faith to achieve, and yet they all had their serious shortcomings, as well. I am glad to know that, so I don’t feel so all alone. The great accuser would have me think only of myself and how I fail to please God in so many ways. He wants me to think I am unusable by God and thus unloved by remembering all my past sins. The Holy Spirit, however, is glad to point out that, despite all these things, His grace is sufficient. He remembers our sins no more (Isaiah 43:25).
And Joshua the son of Nun sent out of Shittim two men to spy secretly, saying, Go view the land, even Jericho. And they went, and came into an harlot’s house, named Rahab, and lodged there. And it was told the king of Jericho, saying, Behold, there came men in hither to night of the children of Israel to search out the country. And the king of Jericho sent unto Rahab, saying, Bring forth the men that are come to thee, which are entered into thine house: for they be come to search out all the country. And the woman took the two men, and hid them, and said thus, There came men unto me, but I wist not whence they were: And it came to pass about the time of shutting of the gate, when it was dark, that the men went out: whither the men went I wot not: pursue after them quickly; for ye shall overtake them. But she had brought them up to the roof of the house, and hid them with the stalks of flax, which she had laid in order upon the roof. And the men pursued after them the way to Jordan unto the fords: and as soon as they which pursued after them were gone out, they shut the gate. And before they were laid down, she came up unto them upon the roof; And she said unto the men, I know that the Lord hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed. And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the Lord your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath. Now therefore, I pray you, swear unto me by the Lord, since I have shewed you kindness, that ye will also shew kindness unto my father’s house, and give me a true token: And that ye will save alive my father, and my mother, and my brethren, and my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death. And the men answered her, Our life for yours, if ye utter not this our business. And it shall be, when the Lord hath given us the land, that we will deal kindly and truly with thee. -Joshua 2:1-14 Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab, Boaz begot Obed by Ruth, Obed begot Jesse, 6 and Jesse begot David the king. -Matthew 1:5 (NKJV) And the city shall be accursed, even it, and all that are therein, to the Lord: only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all that are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent. -Joshua 6:17