At this time some astrologers came forward and denounced the Jews. They said to King Nebuchadnezzar, “May the king live forever! Your Majesty has issued a decree that everyone who hears the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music must fall down and worship the image of gold, and that whoever does not fall down and worship will be thrown into a blazing furnace.
But there are some Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon—Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego—who pay no attention to you, Your Majesty. They neither serve your gods nor worship the image of gold you have set up.” (Daniel 3:8-12)
The back story: About 600 years before Jesus Christ was born, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon took control of Jerusalem and captured many of Israel’s finest citizens including four young men from the tribe of Judah: Daneil, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. The four young men were deported to Babylon. While in captivity the four men were given new names. Daniel was called Belteshazzar, Hananiah was called Shadrach, Mishael was called Meschach, and Azariah was called Avednego. (Adapted from Christianity.com)
They are captured, then they are summoned by the king, and finally they are put in the position of standing firm in their faith and refusing to worship the golden idol. God’s promises shine through the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and the unbelievable challenges that follow.
“You shall have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:3)
Furious with rage, Nebuchadnezzar summoned Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. So these men were brought before the king, and Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up? Now when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?” (Daniel 3:13-16)
Bow down to the golden idol or be thrown into a blazing furnace? Put yourself in their place- can you even begin to imagine? You know it isn’t a veiled threat- the threat is very real. The decision is yours- choose God or incinerate. I think they had to wonder “who will blame me if I just bend over and worship this gold idol to save my life- I’ll just pray to God while I’m doing it and the gesture will be meaningless, right?” Wrong.
What would their legacy be? Was their worship to God more than just a song? Between a rock and a hard place, literally in the hot seat, would everything that they say and do point to God or would they choose their own individual comfort and safety? Would they be sanctified, consecrated, set apart- would they live like His love is true? Saying that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego walked the walk is truly an understatement. I want to live like that.
Every hard duty that lies in your path, that you would rather not do, that it will cost you pain and struggle or sore effort to do, has a blessing in it. Not to do it, at whatever cost, is to miss the blessing.
Every hard piece of road on which you see the Master’s shoe-prints and along which He bids you follow Him, surely leads to blessing, which you cannot get if you cannot go over the steep, thorny path.
Every point of battle to which you come, where you must draw your sword and fight the enemy, has a possible victory which will prove a rich blessing to your life. Every heavy load that you are called to lift hides in itself some strange secret of strength. –J.R. Miller, Streams in the Desert
Do not make idols or set up an image or a sacred stone for yourselves, and do not place a carved stone in your land to bow down before it. I am the LORD your God. (Leviticus 26:1)
Then Nebuchadnezzar was furious with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and his attitude toward them changed. He ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual and commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. So these men, wearing their robes, trousers, turbans and other clothes, were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace. The king’s command was so urgent and the furnace so hot that the flames of the fire killed the soldiers who took up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and these three men, firmly tied, fell into the blazing furnace. (Daniel 3:19-23)
The heat intensified, yet not one of the three abandoned their faith and worshiped the idol to avoid the flames. We encounter similar choices in our lives, probably not with a king and an actual inferno, but pressure filled choices of whether to fold and take the easier way out in favor of our comfort and security or whether to stand firm in our faith and stand firm for the truth.
The passage does not say that the three argued or bartered, defended their positions, or tried to convince the king of or his soldiers of their position. Their words would not have accomplished that, but what about their actions? It’s only the beginning of the story.
Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place. (Ephesians 6:14)
Out of all the voices reaching out to me, I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth. -Casting Crowns
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” (Daniel 3:16-18)
Matthew Henry’s commentary about these verses is perfect. He says “They did not break out into any intemperate heat or passion against those that did worship the golden image, did not insult or affront them; nor did they rashly thrust themselves upon the trial, or go out of their way to court martyrdom; but, when they were duly called to the fiery trial, they acquitted themselves bravely, with a conduct and courage that became sufferers for so good a cause. The king was not so daringly bad in making this idol, but they were as daringly good in witnessing against it. They keep their temper admirably well, do not call the king a tyrant or an idolater (the cause of God needs not the wrath of man), but, with an exemplary calmness and sedateness of mind, they deliberately give in their answer, which they resolve to abide by. Observe.”
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego stand firm in the faith. They know that the plan is God’s and that He will deliver them, whether on earth or in heaven. They maintain their calm and they stand firm in their faith. What an example as to how to deal with a fiery trial.
Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. (1 Corinthians 16:13)
Rise on eagle’s wings…worthy is the Lamb.
Then Nebuchadnezzar was furious with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and his attitude toward them changed. He ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual and commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. So these men, wearing their robes, trousers, turbans and other clothes, were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace. 22 The king’s command was so urgent and the furnace so hot that the flames of the fire killed the soldiers who took up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and these three men, firmly tied, fell into the blazing furnace. (Daniel 3:19-23)
“We must learn to take God at His Word, and go straight on in duty, although we see no way in which we can go forward. The reason we are so often balked by difficulties is that we expect to see them removed before we try to pass through them. If we would move straight on in faith, the path would be opened for us. We stand still, waiting for the obstacle to be removed, when we ought to go forward as if there were no obstacles.” (Evening Thoughts, Streams in the Desert)
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego did not wait for the difficulty of the burning inferno to be removed. They took God at His Word and moved forward as if there were no obstacle. They must have hoped and prayed that God would spare them- that the fire would miraculously burn out, that the king would change his mind, for an earthquake, a flood, anything to avoid what was about to happen. But God had much bigger things in mind for the ending of this story. Stay tuned.
Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?” They replied, “Certainly, Your Majesty.” He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.” (Daniel 3:24-26)
Faith that believes it will see, will keep us from becoming discouraged. We will laugh at seemingly impossible situations while we watch with delight to see how God is going to open a path through our Red Sea [Exodus 14:21-31]. It is in these places of severe testing, with no human way out of our difficulty, that our faith grows and is strengthened.
Have you been waiting for God to work during long nights and weary days, fearing you have been forgotten? Lift up your head and begin praising Him right now for the deliverance that is on its way to you. -Life of Praise: Streams in the Desert
You are my strong tower
A Shelter over me
Beautiful and mighty
Everlasting King- you speak softly to my soul. -Lyrics: Strong Tower, Kutless
Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God,come out! Come here!” So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire, and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them. (Daniel 3:26-27)
He created us to love us. He saved us because He loves us. He forgives us because He loves us. Nothing that we can ever do will change that. Go forward in faith and triumph. Oh glorious day!
The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. (Psalm 103:8)
Living, He loved me
Dying, He saved me
Buried, He carried my sins far away
Rising, He justified freely forever
One day He’s coming
Oh glorious day
Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. (Daniel 3:28)
King Nebuchadnezzar witnessed God’s hand and gave glory to Him. The King honored Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego for their constant faith. The three dared to believe, stood firm, and refused to be overcome and their faith changed the world. They are the example that obedience always brings blessing. That blessing comes in a variety of ways- on earth and in heaven- but He has literally saved all of His believers from the furnace. Amen!
Many people believe that the power of God in a person’s life should keep him from all trials and conflicts. However, the power of God actually brings conflicts and struggles. If we are ever to rise above mere human strength and experience the power of the life of Christ in our mortal bodies, it will be through the process of conflict that could very well be called the “labor pains” of the new life…You may be suffering but you cannot fail if you will only dare to believe, stand firm, and refuse to be overcome. -Adapted from Streams in the Desert
What Faith Can Do- Kutless
I’ve seen dreams that move the mountains
Hope that doesn’t ever end
Even when the sky is falling
I’ve seen miracles just happen
Silent prayers get answered
Broken hearts become brand new
That’s what faith can do.
Monday we’ll wrap up with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego- saved from the furnace! Lent begins on Wednesday and we’ll walk together in daily devotions in a new series “Lead to the Cross”. The blog will still be a daily series but we’ll incorporate a weekly change, whether it’s something that is given up or added in, to our life and faith as we approach Easter.
Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way.”
Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the province of Babylon.(Daniel 3:29-30)
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego stood for God, for truth, and firmly in their faith. They faced literal fire and never wavered. These three suited up, showed up, and refused to be overcome and their example ministered to others. God was always with them and He delivered them. God delivered Jonah from the whale, Zacchaeus from his own sin, and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego from the furnace.
Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful. -Never Once, One Sonic Society