When the Babylonian tyrant threw Daniel’s friends into the fiery furnace, they not only emerged unharmed – they didn’t even smell of smoke!
I once had an emerald-colored car I dubbed, “The Green Hornet.” The name proved to be prophetic, for, indeed, it stung me. It had assorted mechanical problems, and eventually the seals degraded, causing the car to leak through every possible crevice. I never should have bought it.
For all its mechanical malfunctions, it wasn’t the Green Hornet’s unreliability that plagued me most; it was the odor.
When I first test-drove that Green Hornet, it smelled like smoke. I was going to rule it out, but the salesman assured me repeatedly that they could most certainly get the smoke smell out. And, indeed, on the bright sunny day I picked up the car after purchasing it, the interior smelled reasonably fresh. But what I found, over time, was that the smell was deep down. The deodorizer hadn’t reached the carpet padding and the nooks and crannies.
The odor wasn’t bad on a fresh Spring day. Sometimes I’d almost forget that I hated the smell of the car. But in the winter, on a gray February day when the air was heavy and damp and cold, the Green Hornet still smelled like smoke.
I’ve often felt like my soul is too much like that smelly old Green Hornet. Do you ever feel like that? The inward aroma of my thought life seems pretty clean on a bright, clear day; but on the gray days, the damp, cloud-covered seasons of life when things aren’t going so well and the spiritual battle is a little more intense, something still reeks of sin and shame.
That’s why I love the story of Daniel’s three friends who emerge so miraculously from Nebuchadnezzar’s fiery furnace: “Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out from the fire. 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” (Daniel 3:26–27, ESV).
They not only survived, they came forth without the smell of smoke.
That’s what you are to God: saved from the fire and saved from the lingering smoke of yesterday’s shame. In other words, you’re not only forgiven – you’re also reckoned as totally clean. And that’s the Gospel!