This is Christ in the Community for Thursday, November 10. Beginning in 3,2,1
Good Morning. I am Steve Merrin, pastor of Hodge Presbyterian Church. On behalf of the Trenton Ministerial Alliance, I want to thank KTTN for this opportunity to share Christ in the Community.
I want you to remember one of the all time great Bible Stories of the Old Testament, from the book of Daniel. It is the story of Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah! Not ringing any bells? How about Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego? It is likely that those three names you have heard of. The first three I just said were their real Hebrew names, the more well known names were their slave names. Am I the only one that thinks it is strange that these three Hebrew heroes of faith (that wouldn’t bow down to the King, but instead get thrown into a fiery furnace, only to have God deliver them from that certain death; the Babylonian King demanded that they bow down to his huge statue and worship or be put to death, they didn’t choose the easy way out, they put their lives on the line and God delivered them) are remembered today by us by their slave names? I think there is a great reason for this. I actually think that the author of Daniel was poking fun at the false Gods of Babylon. It has to do with the meaning of all those names.
Their original Hebrew names, exalted Yahweh: Hananiah, means, “The Lord is gracious”, Mishael “Who is what God is”, and Azariah means “The Lord has helped”. The Babylonian names honored Babylonian gods. Shadrach “Command of Aku”, Aku was the Sumerian moon god, Meshach “Who is what Aku is”, and Abednego “Servant of Nabu”, who was the Babylonian god of wisdom. I can almost hear the original Hebrew audience of this story laughing at the repeated mention of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Neither Aku, nor Nabu (nor any other false god) protected these three men, it was the one true God who did that.
In our lives, we constantly come into situations in which we may face our own fiery furnace, maybe not as dramatic as these three men and their fiery furnace. Maybe we find ourselves in a situation in which we have to decide between what is easy and what is right. Maybe we find ourselves, or those we love, in a situation that seems hopeless, painful, and we wonder if we dare trust that God is working even in that situation. What the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego tells use about God is that we can know that, though we may not feel it, or understand it, God is in control; in the big decisions, and the little decisions, God is deserving of our trust. God is sovereign; and we are his. I challenge you today to trust God in whatever situation you might be facing. To respond to your own fiery furnace situations with the acknowledgment that whatever happens, you are God’s; and ultimately that is our only real hope.
God Bless You.