Test of Faith
As we journey with God, we must be willing to go into the furnace to be tried by fire and faith. The story of Daniel and his three friends best illustrates this when tested. During his time, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon made a golden statue of himself to be worshipped by all people.
Then the princes, the governors, and captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counselors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, were gathered together unto the dedication of the image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up; and they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up. Daniel 3:3 KJV.
The King further commanded that when they hear the “sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of music,” they would fall and worship his golden image. Daniel 3:5 MEV.
And whoever does not fall down and worship should be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. Daniel 3:11 MEV.
All bowed down to worship his image except three men: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They refused and told the King that:
If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods, nor worship the golden image which you have set up. Daniel 3:17-18 MEV.
The burning fiery furnace was fired up seven times hotter. The guards who brought the men into the furnace burned themselves from the heat. But the three men felt no heat as Jesus delivered them through the fire.
But I see four men loose and walking in the midst of the fire, and they are unharmed. And the form of the fourth is like the Son of God! Daniel 3:25 MEV.
This passage tells us that Jesus was there all along, even before he was born around 605 B.C. (Before Christ). God was with the men in the burning furnace to shield them. The King, now believing in their God who saved them, promoted the men in his ranking and issued a decree that no one was to say anything against their God.
Jesus was also with Daniel in the lion’s den in Daniel 6:21 to deliver him from death.
Then Daniel said to the king, “O king, live forever! My God has sent His angel and has shut the lions’ mouths so that they have not hurt me because innocence was found in me before Him; and also before you, O king, I have done no harm.” Daniel 6:21-22 MEV.
King Nebuchadnezzar's story of the worship of his image parallels the prophecy of what is coming again as foretold in the book of Revelation. The second beast that is to come will require all people that took the Mark to worship the image of the first beast. Those that refuse will be killed. Everything that once was is being repeated again and again. All will be tested to pick whom they will worship, the beast or God. Daniel and his friends were saved by faith and chose to worship their God instead of a King in power. Whom will you worship when you are tested?
Abraham was also faithful to God when he was tested to sacrifice his son, Isaac.
Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you. Genesis 22:2 MEV.
God was never going to allow Abraham to kill his son, even though God had sent His only Son to become the sacrifice for all. It was a test of faith to see if Abraham would be willing to submit to God no matter what. It was also a foreshadowing of what God had to do Himself. He showed Abraham how it felt to offer a sacrifice of one’s loved one, even unto God. He called Abraham his friend as he walked in faith with Him. Because Abraham obeyed God in faith, he was blessed for all generations.
By Myself I have sworn, says the Lord, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will indeed bless you and I will indeed multiply your descendants as the stars of the heavens and as the sand that is on the seashore. Your descendants will possess the gate of their enemies. Through your offspring, all the nations of the earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.” Genesis 22:16-18 MEV.
However, even though Abraham had complete faith in God, he did what Adam did with Eve by harking onto his wife Sarah to doubt what God said to him. Sarah thought ahead of God’s promise for heirs by asking Abraham to bear a child through her handmaiden, Hagar. Hagar bore Abraham’s first son Ishmael. This child was not God’s promise to Abraham, but He still blessed Ishmael. God then told Abraham that Sarah would bear his son, but Sarah laughed at the idea of her getting pregnant at her age. An angel of the Lord said,
"I will certainly return to you about this time next year, and Sarah, your wife, will have a son." And Sarah heard it in the tent door, which was behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old and very advanced in age, and Sarah was well past childbearing. Therefore Sarah laughed to herself, saying, "After I am so old and my lord is old also, shall I have pleasure?" Then the Lord said to Abraham, "Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Shall I surely bear a child when I am old?’ Is anything too difficult for the Lord? At the appointed time, I will return to you, at this time next year, and Sarah will have a son." Then Sarah denied it, saying, “I did not laugh” because she was afraid. But He said, “Yes, you did laugh.” Genesis 18:10-15 MEV.
Not following God’s promises and waiting on Him has unintended consequences. Although God blessed Ishmael with many descendants and nations, they did not inherit God’s promises that were reserved with and through Isaac. Abraham’s lineage was split in two directions with two manners of people. Jesus was born from Isaac’s lineage to fulfill God’s plan of redemption for those who believe in Him as the only way to their Salvation.
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." John 14:6 MEV.
There is one God and one mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus. 1 Timothy 2:5 MEV.
Islam was born to Ishmael's descendants. They will not inherit the Kingdom of God unless they believe in Jesus Christ's divinity. While the teachings of Islam believe in Christ's existence, it rejects Him as the Son of God.
God made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Corinthians 5:21 MEV.
He who believes in the Son has eternal life. He who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. John 3:36 MEV.
He who believes in Him is not condemned. But he who does not believe is condemned already because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. John 3:18 MEV.
God speaks and welcomes all nations and tongues to come to Him and receive His free gift of eternal life through faith.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16 MEV.
While many will perish for lack of faith, many people will be saved that no man can number. One evidence of this is in the book of Revelation.
Then I looked. And there was a great multitude which no one could count, from all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands. They cried out with a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” Revelation 7:9-10 MEV.
These are those who came out of great tribulation and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Revelation 7:14 MEV.
Every biblical character was tested, from Adam and Eve to even Jesus. Adam and Eve were given one command in Genesis not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge, but both failed the test and sinned against God. They were kicked out of the Garden of Eden as a result. God set in motion to choose His faithful men and women to carry out His plan for redemption and salvation.
In Genesis, Able offered his animal offering to God in faith, while his brother Cain did not. God rejected Cain’s offering. Out of jealousy, Cain then murders his brother. In Exodus, Moses trusted God and led his people out of bondage in Egypt. Israelites also had to trust God or lose their promise of a land of milk and honey. David trusted God throughout his persecution by King Saul. 1 Samuel 19. Much of the Psalms were written by David about God.
Jonah trusted God and brought the corrupt people of Nineveh to repentance even when he didn’t want to. Jacob wrestled with Angel for his blessings and was renamed Israel. Genesis 32:22-31.
Job trusted God even though Satan was unleashed on him as a test of faith. The entire book of Job is a testament to his faith in God, even when all was lost. Job questioned God but ultimately humbled himself before God, having understood that all his days of existence and mercy belonged to God. The book of Job shows us we are in no place to question God’s plan for our lives and His wisdom. All the prophets of God believed God to warn their people to repent.
Satan himself also tested Jesus in Matthew 4:1-11. While Jesus fasted for forty days and nights to be with God—a very vulnerable moment—Satan came to tempt Him to give up and choose him to worship instead of God. In exchange, Satan would give Him the entire kingdom of the world and all its riches.
Again, the devil took Him up on a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their grandeur, and said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Get away from here, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve.’ Then the devil left Him, and immediately angels came and ministered to Him. Matthew 4:8-11 MEV.
All would have been lost if Jesus had given in to Satan’s temptation. Instead, Jesus gave Himself as a sacrifice to inherit the Kingdom of God and bring all Believers with Him, while Satan lost everything to be thrown into the lake of fire for eternity.
In My Father’s house are many dwelling places. If it were not so, I would have told you. I am going to prepare a place for you. John 14:2 MEV.
And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. Revelation 21:4 KJV.
The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet were. They will be tormented day and night forever and ever. Revelation 20:10 MEV.
How beautiful are these promises that could only have been created by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross? Out of His death and carnage came a better promise for a new heaven and new earth without evil and a life with God Himself to inherit His Kingdom. All are obtained by faith that God has said is true.
But to him who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness. Romans 4:5 MEV.
Abram believed the Lord, and He credited it to him as righteousness. Genesis 15:6 MEV.
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1 MEV.
You will never go wrong if you put your trust and faith in God, as He will give you more than you hoped. God is good and full of promises that He never breaks. You only need to persevere in God’s timing to answer your prayers and fulfill His promises for your life. Everyone’s journey was difficult for all tested, and they had to persevere in the Bible. But each reward was so great, beyond their expectation and imagination. Are you willing to be tried by fire in the furnace to trust God the same way as all those who went before you? Life doesn’t come easy, but those who trust God will eventually reap their reward, either here on earth or in heaven with God.
Note that all the stories in the whole Bible are a testimony of faith and a witness to Jesus Christ, who fulfills all promises in faith. If the Bible is to be renamed, it should be titled “Called by Faith.”
Will you answer His call?
As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15 KJV.
Stay tuned for the next and last chapter in our journey with God to become a living stone.