Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me. Psalms 23:4
God is with us! What an awesome thing to know! And because He is with us, there is no reason to fear any evil. God is greater than any trial or test that can come our way. He is well able to deliver us from every situation. And even if God chooses not to deliver our bodies from fleshly persecution, we know that eternal deliverance awaits us in heaven. To this we eagerly look forward to, knowing that to be with Him is far better than to remain in the body of this flesh (Phil 1).
One of the greatest stories of God's delivering power is found in the famous story of the blazing furnace of Babylon. Three Hebrew men are faced with the command to worship a golden statue or death by burning. In such a circumstance, most men would cower in fear, submitting to the pressure, but not these men. These faithful jews were well acquainted with Psalm 23. From their childhood in Israel they had been taught how the Lord was their Shepherd. Now they were truly walking in the valley of the shadow of death. Death loomed over them. Death stared them in the face, but they did not fear. Why? Because they knew that God was with them!
The boldness of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego came from the realization that God was truly with them. Why should they fear? Who is greater than our God? Their amazing recognition of the presence of God in their lives gave them the boldness to look into the fires of death and to speak back to a king in who's command lay the power of life and death. They did not fear him would could kill the body, but had power to do nothing more. They feared Him, whom after He has killed, has the power to destroy both soul and body in hell(Matt 10:28)! There was a greater King present. Even Nebuchadnezzar, in all his earthly glory and power, could not hold a candle to the great power of the living God!
How can we have boldness like this?
We can have boldness when we realize that God is with us. Those who are in Christ can have confidence that God is with them. Jesus Christ Himself made sure to emphasize this before He departed from this earth:
“And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever…I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” John 14:15-16,18
If we love Jesus and keep His commandments, we can be sure that God is with us. When we are sure that God is with us, we can say with the writer of Hebrews,”The Lord is my helper, I will not fear, what can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:6)
We may never face the type of test that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego faced, but we will face the tempation to bow to the pressures of the world and of the devil. What is your 90 foot statue to whom the devil wants you to bow? And what is the fire that the devil is threatening you with if you don't?
For some of you it is 90 foot statue of compromise and the fire is rejection. You fear rejection from your peers so you bow to the statue of compromise. The devil sends his messengers to herald the news that if you don't compromise your morals you'll be thrown in to the fires of rejection.
For some of you it is a 90 foot stature of forbidden pleasure and the fire is unfulfilled passion. You fear it is impossible to survive the passions of the flesh. The devil sends his messengers to herald the news that the unfulfilled passions of the flesh will drive you to insanity unless you bow.
For some if you it is the 90 foot stature of worldly fun and the fire is perceived boredom. You fear life will be boring without the excitement of the ways of this world. The devil sends his messengers to herald the news that unless you engage in the ways of the world that you will live in the perpetual fires of boredom.
Out of all the mulititude of those that where present on that day, there were only three that did not bow. You will find that to be just as true today. The people of this world readily bow to any and every god necessary to avoid the fires of trial. By bowing they avoid the temporary pain of the pressures of this world, but heap upon themselves the judgment of God in the last day. Those who stand will be few.
And those who stand should be ready for the fire. The fire will come. But just as God did for the three Hebrews, He will do for you. He will be with you. He will walk with you in the fire. He will deliver you from the fire. You won't be hurt. You'll only come out refined. And just like the three Hebrews, only the things that bind you will be destroyed.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you. – Isaiah 43:2
God doesn't promise that there will be no fire. But He promises that He will be with you in the fire. Those who suffer for the sake of Christ have great reason to rejoice. It's an honor to be counted worthy to suffer reproach for the name of Christ. Look at what Peter and John did after being threatened and beaten for the testimony of Jesus:
So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. Acts 5:41
And when Stephen was being stoned for his faith in Christ, God opened the heavens for him so he could know for certian that God was with him:
“Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” Acts 7:55
Jesus honored the three Hebrews by being with them in the fire. Jesus honored Stephen by getting up from His throne and opening the heavens. Jesus will also be with you in your firey trial which is to try you. And whether He delivers you in this life or the next, He will deliver you. Not a hair of your head shall perish.
And you will be hated by all for My name's sake. But not a hair of your head shall be lost. Luke 21:17-18
Remember that trials and trouble await you, but in it all, God will be with you. You have no reason to fear even death itself. The Lord is your Sheperd, and even though you walk though the valley of the shadow of death, you need not fear, for God is with you!