Today we have the account of Daniel’s three faithful companions, those we met in chapter 1 who refused to eat the king’s rich food and wine. Now we read how these three refused to bow down to the king’s golden image. The king warns, “if you do not worship, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?” (3:15). They refuse, saying, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this 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” (verses 17,18).

This is a great example of commitment to God, come what may! A dramatic deliverance follows: an incident like several others in the Bible of deliverance for those who faithfully follow their God. Several of these are in the book of Acts, which we started reading today.

Are their deliverances today? We hear of prayers being answer, but there is an ultimate act of deliverance to come when Jesus returns and “will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect” (Matthew 24:31). The elect will be saved out from a time of trouble.

Daniel speaks of a “time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book” (12:1). Clearly this is “the book of life”! Paul refers to it in Philippians 4:3, praising those “who have laboured side by side with me in the gospel … whose names are in the book of life”. May we labour together in spreading the true gospel so that, by the grace of our saviour, our names will be in the book too. The extent to which there will be a “fire” at this ‘time of the end’ is not clear, we rather think that some scriptures, such as 2 Peter 3:10-12 are symbolic, but we cannot be sure, but we long for the time Peter describes in the next verse, “according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells”.