Thursday, November 1, 2012

jack bauer billy bad apple‏

Seriously, how is it November already?

Daniel 3:16-18

16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied to the king, “Nebuchadnezzar,we don’t need to give you an answer to this question. 17 If the God we serve exists, then He can rescue us from the furnace of blazing fire, and He can rescue us from the power of you, the king.18 But even if He does not rescue us, we want you as king to know that we will not serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up.”

What a senseless waste of three good Jewish boys, right? I mean, all they had to do was bow to the stupid idol Nebuchadnezzar erected. They did not have to mean it. God looks at the heart, not the behavior. God would have known that they did not really worship the idol. He would have understood the good works left to be done and the people depending on these three young men. He would certainly perhaps even advise them to acquiesce to the authorities in their lives, right?


While it is certainly true that in Christ God can forgive any and every sin – even that of betrayal as we observe in the life of Peter, it is wrong to make common sense and practical wisdom your barometer for following God. That is not to say that God is calling you to illogic or imprudence, but to say that the most logical thing one can do is agree with God on everything!

I adore these three young men (it is of note that I keep referring to them as “the three young men” because I do not want to have to type their three difficult names over and over). 

I love how Jack Bauer Billy Bad Apple they get with the king of the known universe at that time. A king who was arrogant and conceited and idolatrous. Most people worship themselves in a prideful way that is common, but coy. Nebuchadnezzar was brash and literally thought he was god on earth. So these three young Jewish boys approach a man with this opinion of himself with the power to enforce this opinion in the minds and mouths of others and say (essentially),

“I don’t have to answer to you. We don’t want to bow before your idol. We serve a God who created everything, even you, o King. And if our God is real, then He can do whatever He wants. He can even make it so that fire cannot hurt us. But even if He lets us burn in the furnace of your wrath I want you know something: I will NEVER worship you or the work of your hands, never! Not now, not later, not next November (?any Letter Factory fans en la casa?).”

(this introduces the very first installment of the VVCSV or Van Voorst Christian Standard Version which is essentially my paraphrase of Biblical texts.  look out "the Message," there's a new interprative dance in town.  this is the first installment, but it won't be the last.  stay sharp!)

I love their boldness in acknowledging unequivocally both the omnipotence and sovereignty of God. He can do whatever He wants and has the power to do it. So it is true that He can rescue you from the fire. It is also true that He may not decide to do that. Either way, He is still God. He is not proven to be God if He does what we tell Him to do. He is not Sovereign if He must do whatever we ask of Him.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (why not this once) demonstrate a faith in God that goes beyond circumstances. God is who He has revealed Himself to be because He is, not because I wish. He is. And if He is to us, how could we ever turn to another?

The fire was hot. Very hot. Hotter than it had ever been as a result of Nebuchadnezzar’s anger. He was angry before three Jews cracked wise, imagine his contempt after the fact. In the furnace a Man appears in the fire with these three young men and saves them from the fire and fury of Nebuchadnezzar’s wrath. A man who looked like a god. He walks with them in the fire. They exit the furnace on their own feet without even a burn, without even the smell of smoke on them.

Back to the Future:  On a particular day over 2,000 years ago God became a man and lived a perfect life and died a sinless death. He was resurrected from the dead to verify that He held the power of life and death and sin and salvation in His hands. The fire of God’s wrath is extinguished. He walked in the fire we deserved and ushered us out unscathed, baring not even the smell of the smoke. We deserve to be burnt and we look and smell like fresh linen - white as snow. He is the perfect Sacrifice, Priest, Savior and Lord.

If He is, how could we ever turn to any other?


  1. Hidely-ho, neighbor Todd! Looking forward to the VVCSV translation of Song of Solomon.

    Also, here's a tricky one for you: suppose you're not being asked to do anything evil but your coworker is excitedly giving you a detailed account of his depraved weekend, and you're grossed out but waiting for an "in" to speak some truth and the "in" never comes. Do you just slap on a "God condemns all that" to cap off the conversation or wait for a more strategic opening?

    And... go!

    1. The VVCSV may not include the SOS. It may just a page that reads, "All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. Call me when you get married and we'll talk."

      You raise a great question Mr. V (only one V? it looks so lonely).

      We can probably take our best cues from Paul in that his primary ministry was to gentiles. Gentiles have a very confused worldview of god and creation and purpose. In order to speak to that, it is often engaging them on the topic of their choosing and fleshing out their fleshiness in it before a Holy Law distributed by a Holy God. If the desire is to share the Good News with this co-worker, it will require the work of attentive listening and thoughtful question asking.

      Idolatry is always a good place to start. Probably not using the word itself, but thinking in terms of "what are they worshipping?" Because they do. Do they realize it? Do they care?

      That's a good jumping off point. Not a hard and fast answer unfortunately. I am much better at this in hypothetical scenarios where I can contemplatively think about what I would and should say in response. This usually looks weirder in conversation where you don't want to spend too long mulling over your response and thereby break the natural cadence of whatever repore.

  2. "it is wrong to make common sense and practical wisdom your barometer for following God"

    i am the queen of worshiping common sense. i was just praying about that the other day. it's hard to worship a big, crazy god when all you want to do is normal, american-dream stuff.