43:1 But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob,
And He who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name;
You are Mine.
2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you.
3 For I am the Lord your God,
The Holy One of Israel, your Savior...
Isaiah was called by God to speak to Judah on His behalf. The message was rather simple. "Things can't continue as they are and if you insist on your increasingly evil ways other nations will begin to have their way with you. Ultimately Babylon will come and destroy Jerusalem, setting it on fire. The treasures that Hezekiah showed off to the king of Babylon and his entourage will be carried away along with your royal descendants and they will be made eunuchs in his kingdom."
Those prophecies were yet future. Isaiah himself wouldn't live to see them happen but his words and warnings and the promises attached to them lived on. Faithful parents taught them to their children. Among some of those children who heard these warnings and learned these promises were Daniel, Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael. They were taught about the Mighty God of Abraham. The One who opened the sea before Moses. The One who brought down the walls of Jericho all by Himself while preserving Rahab the prostitute and any who were with her.
When those boys were chained together and marched from their homeland, likely leaving their murdered families behind them, they knew it was foretold. As awful as it was they knew they were living out the very words of God and attached to those words were promises. The exile in Babylon would not be forever. Jerusalem would be restored, and more than all that, God would be with them through this ordeal.
When they arrived in Babylon they remained faithful to God and He remained faithful to them just as He promised. When a power hungry and infuriated King Nebuchadnezzar threatened to murder them in a furnace of fire three of those boys (whom we know more as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) remained fearless. When they were thrown in for their loyalty to God not only did the flames not burn them but Jesus stood with them.
In childhood they heard these promises of water that couldn't drown and fire that wouldn't touch them and now in Daniel chapter three they are living it. What effect do you think that had? What lessons can we learn from them?
As I have said many times already and will continue to say, Jesus never promised a bed of roses. He very deliberately and honestly told us that in this world, this realm where every man woman and child is free to behave as well or as evil as they wish, we will have trouble. Attached to that sober warning are promises. Promises like "I will never leave you or forsake you" and "I will come again to get you" and "Fear not little flock, it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom" and "Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world" and "If God be for is who can be against us?".
Those who choose Him and His merciful plan of complete restoration are promised that in the end they will look up and declare "Look this is our God! We have waited for Him and He will save us."
Today we read a promise that four little Jewish boys heard from childhood. Shortly after the warning words of Isaiah became their living reality. What for Hezekiah was a far off prophecy was for them a very painful and horrific experience. Yet God made promises and He kept them and they lived those as well.
He has not changed. He will keep every promise He has ever made. He invites us to experience them but He won't force us. Love never forces.