Focal passages: Daniel 3:13-18, 26-28
Would you be willing to give up your life for the gospel?
Not long ago I was in a meeting and the speaker shared a story about a Christian family in the Middle East. Evidently, the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) had come into their community and was going house-to-house seeking Christians. When they determined this particular family was Christian they marked their house and gave them three options. First, they could recant their faith in Jesus Christ and turn to Islam. Second, they could pay an extremely large amount of money, which they did not possess. Or, third, they could be put to death.
When the family would not recant their faith, ISIS took their young son and impaled him on a post.
As the mother attempted to run toward her son they grabbed her and dismembered her arms. All the while the father was forced to watch while hanging on a cross.
When I think about this unbelievable tragedy my heart goes out to the many believers all over the world who are standing courageously in the midst of death and persecution. Christian families like this are modern day examples of individuals we find in the Bible. Men like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in Daniel 3:8-30 stood in the face of death and remained true to God. They had a choice: worship a golden image or be cast into a fiery furnace.
I love their response to the pagan king. They said, “we have no need to answer you in this matter. 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 if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up” (Daniel 3:16-18). I hope as we read and hear about the great heroes of the faith we will be encouraged to stand firm in the face of persecution. Life is too short and eternity too long to do otherwise.