Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” 25 He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.”
26 Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the door of the burning fiery furnace; he declared, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here!” Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out from the fire. 27 And the satraps, the prefects, the governors, and the king’s counselors gathered together and saw that the fire had not had any power over the bodies of those men. The hair of their heads was not singed, their cloaks were not harmed, and no smell of fire had come upon them. 28 Nebuchadnezzar answered and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set aside[f] the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God. 29 Therefore I make a decree: Any people, nation, or language that speaks anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be torn limb from limb, and their houses laid in ruins, for there is no other god who is able to rescue in this way.” 30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the province of Babylon. – Daniel 3:24-30
I wrote yesterday that God desires more to woo us than to wow us. I stand by that comment: God’s nature is to be just, mighty, holy, righteous, and glorious. But, according to 1 John 4, God is love. His ultimate revelation of himself was to pour out on his own Son, his wrath, just judgment against sin, and our failure to meet his demand that we be holy – even as he is holy. He laid all that on Jesus, not on us, and sought to woo us into a relationship of faith. Jesus is God’s perfect revelation of grace and truth. We are to fear, love, and trust in God above all things. But in the end, faith, hope, and love remain, and the greatest of all these is love.
Having said that, there is an issue we must all face: God is just. He is a “consuming fire” (even revealed as such in the New Testament, cf. Hebrews 12:29). What Nebuchadnezzar could not do with his seven-times-as-hot-as-normal fiery furnace, God will do to all who reject him. This is a sad reality, but one God has no desire simply to unleash. God’s wrath, in the end, will be to give over to themselves all who refuse to acknowledge him as King of kings, and Lord of all. But he takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked; He would rather that they turn from their sinful ways and live (Ezekiel 33:11).
God wants to woo us, but we may need to be wowed a bit – not in the carnival side show manner of wowing, but in the encounter with the holy God manner of Isaiah (Isaiah 6:1-5). Before we are overcome by God’s grace we must encounter God’s truth: All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. We have been justified by God’s grace in Jesus Christ – thanks be to God. But we must never outgrow our need to fear God in the core of our being – even as we trust and love him.
A favorite scene in one of C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia, is when the Christ figure, Aslan, is described as not safe, but good (click here for the quote). God is good. He is holy, righteous, faithful, loving, merciful, and worthy of all our faith, hope, and love.