The third chapter of Daniel mentions two fires, one made by man for those who would not worship the Golden Image and in between those fires you read of another fire – the fire that God lit in the hearts of Daniel’s friends, a fire that could not be quenched. That fire was the wisdom of the King. After that story, he used three words that we would do well to use this year. They were, “Is it true?” God expects us to use these words. Daniel and his friends had been promoted in that land and they said, “….we are not careful to answer thee in this matter.” They would rather have died than betray the God of heaven. On one side, they saw an image and on the other side, they saw the fire. If they wouldn’t bow down to the law of that land, they would be cast into the fire. God made a law too, and those who would not serve Him were cast into Hell, an eternal fire that never could be quenched. Daniel’s friends had their hats on when they were cast into the furnace. The Jews wear hats in their synagogues to commemorate this and the Jewish ladies, when they get a costume made, wear a little hat to show that they want to rend their garments. Isn’t that easy?
When they were cast into the fire, the King saw one like unto the Son of God. He should have been worshiping his own image and instead he saw what went on in the fire. That was God arranged. Isn’t it a lovely thing to look at another and see two, or when we look at three and see four? We are seeing the Son of God walking with them. As a little boy, I admired the workers greatly; they were the best revelation I ever saw walking on two legs. Christ in another’s life is the best revelation we can give to a perishing world. God has started His fire in our lives.
I once visited an art gallery and wouldn’t have given a dollar for what I saw. All the paintings were just flat. Just before leaving, one painting caught my eye. It was a painting of an old woman plucking a pheasant, with the sun shining through the window. I looked it up in the catalogue and found it was by a famous painter. I said, “This is a masterpiece.” People can be lovely and beautiful in their lives, with everything dead right, but it’s the work of God in a man or woman, boy or girl that’s the masterpiece. Nothing can be compared with it. This foundation has been laid in Jesus Christ and every man’s work will be made manifest. Take heed how you build upon it. Six things were built on this foundation and some burned easily: wood, hay, and stubble. But there was no wood or hay or stubble in those three young men’s lives down in Babylon; otherwise, they would have all caught alight. You cannot burn gold, or silver or diamonds and neither did the fire touch them. Those men who threw them into the fire were the hay, wood and stubble, and they were all burned. What is golden in God’s sight, and how do we build a little gold on the foundation? Obedience is golden and the divine nature of obedience is golden to God. Silver speaks of redemption from the world, and I’ve been reading of being redeemed from the world and not redeemed by Alex Davidson. God wants to redeem us from ourselves and from what we think and what others think.
Precious stones. Ezekiel saw One sitting on the Throne, and His appearance was like Sapphire. As children, we used to play with marbles. Some were made from clay and some were made from glass. Once I broke a glass marble and I never forgot the beautiful sapphire colouring. It made me think of Jesus, smashed: the nails in His hands, the crown of thorns on His brow, scourged with 40 stripes save one, by a whip with three tails and lead in those tails. He could not carry His cross yet in spite of all, the beautiful colours of His life came from Him. He asked His Father to forgive His enemies right there at His feet. What beautiful colours He had. There are three precious stones we can all be and do – they are thankfulness, truthfulness, and honesty. When you get a letter and it is unmarked, it has fulfilled its duty and should be destroyed. The same goes for an uncollected railway ticket. It has fulfilled its purpose and should never be used again.
That’s like the wood, hay, and stubble. The wood nature is like our human nature. You can build a lovely human nature, even on that foundation. Everything you see on the Earth comes from the human mind, except what God has made. One thing that evolves from the human mind is evolution, the belief that millions of years ago we were something else. The Bible speaks about it. When Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh, God said, “Take thy rod, and cast it before Pharaoh, and it shall become a serpent.” How many years did Moses stand there waiting for it to happen? It was instantaneous. There is no evolution found in the New Testament. When Jesus returns, all who have died in Christ return to their bodies again, and they will be changed in the twinkling of an eye. God made man in the beginning and he has always remained a man. When I saw photographs recently of my grandfather and grandmother, they didn’t resemble tadpoles. A cow has always been a cow and hay has always been hay. What makes a life in most people is what they are, and what they say, and how they process [possess?] it. The more they possess, the more respected they are in the world. It’s like being the richest man in the district. The only words that count are when God is in it. The rest will all be burned up. Stubble is what we possess. Our battle is to keep our stuff down. I once had all my stuff out on the bed ready for packing when a little lad came into the room and said, “Uncle Alex, you have a lot of junk!” There’s a possibility that what we carry around is a lot of junk that one day we leave behind. Fire burns love from the stubble, from our words, and from our possessions. God lit a fire the day you decided to serve Him. He also lit that fire to burn the rubbish. Nothing of value is ever burned. This fire started by Him still continues, burns in us today, that as we walk, Christ can be seen with us.