By David Tulis
The devotionals by Trail Life USA dads at weekly meetings run three to five minutes. My brief Tuesday describes the courage God gives his men in face of the despot.
King Nebuchadnezzar is a despot and tyrant who defies God and demands the people worship his idol, the glimmering statute in the plain. But godly men Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego refuse to bow and make any sign of obedience.
“And who is the god who will deliver you from my hands?” the king demands God gives men courage to face death rather than turn their backs on their Creator and Savior. “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter.” They are saying they do not have to ponder what to say, but stand firm, needing no rebuttal. “If that is the case [that we shall be burned alive in the furnace], our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.”
Notice how they count their lives lightly, confident of God’s power to rescue them, or if not to rescue them from peril to save their souls from eternal death for sin.
These men are, with throbbing hearts, cast into the furnace. But by a miracle they do not die in the flames, but are saved by Jesus Himself, who joins them inside and prevents even the border of their clothes from being singed or their persons from smelling the least bit of smoke.
Sleep of Earl of Argyle
God does not spare the lives of all of his faithful ones. Some He ordains to perish at the hands of the wicked. Archibald Campbell, Earl of Argyle, was a protestant and opponent of prelacy and popery in Scotland, and on the last day of his life in June 1685 he enjoys a final Lord’s Day in a castle in grace and comfort. “His Lordship dined with a grave and becoming cheerfulness in the castle. And being used to sleep a little after meat, he retired to his closet, and laid himself down on a bed, and, for about a quarter of an hour, slept as sweetly and pleasantly as ever.” Does not Peter, in prison and facing death the next day, also sleep — only to be awakened by the angel?
Argyle, in a speech to spectators of his beheading: “[T]hat which I mainly intend to say now, is, to express my humble, and I thank God, cheerful submission to the divine will, and my willingness to forgive all men, even my enemies. I know afflictions spring not out of the dust, are not only foretold, but promised to Christians, and are not only tolerable but desirable. *** I hope, by God’s strength, to join with Job, and the Pslamist, and to trust, and pray, and hope, as they did. I do hereby forgive all that directly or indirectly have been the cause of my having been brought to this place, — and pray that God may forgive them.”
On the scaffold this faithful Christian man stands over a block of wood, the chopping block from which his neck would be chopped and his head severed. “Having taken his leave of his friends, he at least kneeled down, and embracing the maiden, said, ‘This is the sweetest maiden I ever kissed, it being the mean to finish my sin and misery, and my inlet” — his way into — “to glory, for which I long.’ Then he prayed a little within himself, thrice uttering these words, ‘Lord Jesus, receive me into thy glory;’ and lifting up his hand, which was the signal, the executioner did his work.”
Young men, we want you to be such men as Shadrach and his friends, and as the Earl of Argyle, hated by the great ones of your day because you stand upon the Word of God, you will not bend, you will not yield in your love for God.
Christians are hated. The government in Washington intends to put a special watch upon them for treason to its designs. Tyrants and despots revile true Christians because they stand inflexibly and unmoved before threats. God’s man is loyal to God and truth, and willing to defy man’s petty laws.
Source: John Howie, Lives of the Scottish Covenanters (Greenville, S.C.: A Press 1981). First published 1858. pp 458, 459