A particular specie of cicada emerges from the ground yearly. We have been hearing them this past week because of the intense heat and steamy environment. They are sometimes called "dog day" cicada since they make their sound during the hot summer days. These cicadas depend upon the heat to warm them up so that they are able to jointly sing. Their "song" is made as they rapidly flex and relax the muscles of their tymbals, ribbed membranes at the base of their abdomens. In part, their sound is a mating call, but it is also meant as a sound of protection against the birds who would consume them. The birds find the sound of the cicadas painful to their ears, so they fly away.
I was reminded as I listened to the sound of the cicadas that we can also depend upon the Lord to show up in the heat of a battle or storm. In fact, one of the names of God is Yahweh Shammah: “The Lord is There.” Our faithful God has plans for us, plans to prosper us and not to harm us, plans to give us hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11) Isaiah 4:6 describes a canopy of the Lord as protection. "It will be a shelter and shade from the heat of the day, and a refuge and hiding place from the storm and rain." There is no one like our God!
A unique story in the Bible demonstrates these thoughts perfectly. Daniel, Chapter 3, gives the account of three Jewish men, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who had been taken from their homeland to Babylon. They, along with all the officials and people in the land, were commanded by King Nebuchadnezzar to bow down and worship a huge gold image set up on the plains of Dura. However, these Jewish men drew a line in the sand, refused to worship the idol, and found themselves in a battle for their lives. King Nebuchadnezzar threatened to have them thrown "immediately" into the blazing furnace and asked, "Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?" (Daniel 3:15) The response from the three men tells us the level of their faith. "If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and He will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if He does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up." (Daniel 3:17-18)
The king was so furious that "he ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual." (Verse 19) Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were bound and thrown into the furnace that was so hot it killed the soldiers who threw them in. God joined the three men in the flames. As the four of them walked around in the fire, the king was amazed and called for them to come out. All could see that they were not harmed in any way and realized that the god of the Jews was all powerful. The king decreed that no one could speak against Him and declared: "No other god can save in this way." (Daniel 3:29)
What can we glean from this story? God rewards those who trust in Him and delights in joining us in the heat of battle. It is here that He can demonstrate His power and faithfulness. He never changes, and we can count on Him to help us in our battles when we trust Him for the outcome. There are times when we may think He will not show up, but His timing is perfect. I call Him the God of 11:59. In the heat of battle, our God will be there!
Joan E. Mathias