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The Fiery Furnace

Friday, January 7, 2022

Joy and Daniel – Ordeal

We have discovered the many ways that joy visits us in celebration but we also find her during days without light and nights without end. From the stories of Genesis to the extravagant images of Revelation we find that no matter the circumstance God’s joy rescues us from sure destruction, Christ’s joy redeems us from our recklessness, and the Spirit’s joy heals us despite the gravity of our wounds.  For the next several days we re-visit the prophets for a final experience of joy in darkness. And we remind ourselves that we have the power to bring God’s infinite, sustaining, persistent joy to others.

Daniel’s prophecy includes familiar stories: the writing on the wall, the lion’s den, the fiery furnace and in the Apocrypha, Susana’s rescue and Bel and the Dragon. The prophecy also contains the first reference to one like the son of man, coming from the heavens (Daniel 7:13) with whom Jesus later identifies himself (Matthew 8:20, Mark 2:10, Luke 5:24, and John 1:51), with whom others identify Jesus (Stephen in Acts 7:54-8:1, and as our brother by the writer of Hebrews 2:5-8). This Son of Man reappears in Revelation as the living one who was dead in 1:13 and again at the harvest of the earth in 14:14. These stories and images have much to communicate to us, especially when we undergo a great ordeal.

 “Strictly speaking, the book does not belong to the prophetic writings but rather to a distinctive type of literature known as ‘apocalyptic,’ of which it is an early specimen . . . This work was composed during bitter persecution carried on by Antiochus IV Epiphanes and was written to strengthen and comfort the Jewish people in their ordeal”. (Senior 1086)

Through the story of Daniel in the lion’s den, we learn that the faithful need not fight, they need only remain faithful in and with God.

Daniel 6:23: The king was beside himself with joy and ordered Daniel lifted from the den. And not a scratch was found on him because he believed in his God.

Through the words of Daniel’s prayer, we learn how to rise in hopeful joy in the darkest of hours.

Daniel 9:17: O our God, hear your servant’s prayer! Listen as I plead! Let your face shine again with peace and joy upon your desolate sanctuary—for your own glory, Lord.

joyThrough Daniel’s actions, we learn how to remain faithful in a world that worships power, breeds oppression and disdains a life of joy in God. Let us consider the lessons of Daniel today.


Make time today to look through Daniel’s stories. Choose one that might apply to the circumstances playing out around you. Compare different versions of this story . . . and commit to living it out as might be possible in this new year.

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.1086. Print.

If this week’s Noontimes call you to search for more ways to encounter Joy or urges you to investigate the Old or New Testaments, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right-hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter those words in the blog search bar.

Image from: https://fccya.wordpress.com/tag/fiery-furnace/

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Saturday, October 31, 2020

daniel-3-furnace[1]Daniel 1-3

Reality

This one prophecy teaches us much: it tells us how to recognize God in the midst of horror, it reminds us that only God saves in an infinite way, and it exhorts us to witness without actually fighting . . . for the fighting must be left to God. If you can make time today . . . spend awhile with Daniel.

In the first two chapters we read of two important lessons: that all divine dominion comes from the God of Israel, and that false, pagan gods offer nothing. In Daniel 3 we watch as Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego are tossed into the fiery furnace. Not only do they survive, but a fourth figure appears to accompany them in song: an angel of this marvelous God. This is how much God loves each of us. God is so mindful of us that when we are in distress, God sends word to us and God even protects us from the fire of destruction.

There are many instances in our lives in which our perception is that God has let us down or has turned a deaf ear to our petitions. This thinking comes from our ego rather than from our Spirit. All that we see, touch, taste, smell, and hear is a chimera. All that we perceive, sense, know, intuit, and feel in God . . . this is reality. This is truth.

In a world where so many pagan voices call us to fame, fortune, outward perfection, celebrity, science, power, comfort and self-absorption, we find it difficult to hear the one voice of truth which speaks softly of union, dynamism, mystery, discomfort, humility, change, transformation and inner peace. What Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego know and witness to is the lesson which this prophecy drives home so well when we are able sit to read the entire story . . . the faithful do not need to fight . . . they only must refuse to do anything which separates them from God . . . they must not fear . . . they only need to rest in God . . . and they need not worry about God’s plan . . . they need only to find their place in it.

What we know is this . . . that when we begin with simple tasks such as the food test we read about in Daniel 1, we are being eased into following God in many small ways because these little ways will train our neural connections to focus on God rather than the other world that lures us by calling itself real.

What we also know is this . . . that once we set our feet upon the path of God in all of these little ways our union with God will be stronger than any fiery furnace we must endure. And this is a reality that lasts forever.

This prophecy puts into words the mystery of our faith. This prophecy assures us that the more we let go to fall into God’s trust, the less we will fear. This prophecy reminds us that the more we lose self to let the Spirit enter our souls, the less we struggle. This prophecy promises us that the more we follow Christ rather than our own little plans, the less we stumble. This prophecy is a reality we will want to trust.


Adapted from a reflection written on April 1, 2009.

Image from: http://aeroventure.com/Prophesy-101/Prophets/Daniel-3-furnace_BODY.htm

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Daniel 3:  Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Joseph Mallord William Turner: Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the Burning Fiery Furnace – Tate Museum, UK

It is Wednesday before Palm Sunday and today we choose verses from this well-known and well-loved story.

None of us is exempt from trials in the fiery furnace. Some of us suffer greatly; some only a little. Nevertheless, pain comes to each and all of us. And so we pray that in our difficult days, we will turn – as these young men do – to the one who saves. We pray that the angel of the LORD – as God promises – accompanies us in our fiery ordeals. And we pray that – as Christ calls us to do – to muster our courage to step forward into the promise of life.

Shadrach! Meshach! Abednego! Servants of the Supreme God! Come out!

Visit the Tales from the Disapora posts on this blog for more reflections. Or enter the words Furnace or Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego into the blog search bar.

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