The Fiery Furnace
JULY 12 - Nº 193 Daniel 3
Although King Nebuchadnezzar had declared that Daniel’s God was “the God of all gods and the Lord of all kings” (see #190 - July 9), he still thought very highly of himself. He erected a golden statue that was 90 feet tall and nine feet wide. Then he proclaimed that whenever his anthem was played, everyone had to fall to the ground and worship the statue. Whoever refused to obey would immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace. Some of the wisemen in Nebuchadnezzar’s court decided to use this opportunity to get rid of some of the Jews—especially the ones who had just been promoted ahead of them (see #189 - July 8 and #190 - July 9)! They went to the king and said, “Your command was very clear. But there are three Jewish officials who refuse to serve your gods and will not bow down to your image. Their names are Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.” The king was furious! He called for Daniel’s three friends and asked, “Is it true that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I just set up? I will give you another chance. The music will start to play—and when it does, you must drop to the ground and worship the statue. If you do not, you will be thrown into the furnace. I am warning you that there is no god who can rescue you from my power!” Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego did not hesitate. They replied, “We are not going to argue with you or try to change your mind. If you decide to throw us into the fire, the God we serve is able to deliver us. He can rescue us from you, too. But even if He chooses not to, we will not serve your gods or worship the statue you made.” King Nebuchadnezzar was so angry that his face twisted with rage. He commanded the furnace to be heated seven times hotter than usual. He ordered the strongest men in the army to tie the three young men. When they opened the furnace and threw their captives in, the flames were so hot that the soldiers collapsed and died. Suddenly the king leaped to his feet. “Weren’t there only three men that we tied up and threw in?” He questioned. “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire untied and unhurt! And the fourth looks like a son of the gods!” Nebuchadnezzar moved closer to the opening and yelled, “Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out!” The three men stepped out of the furnace. Everyone crowded around to see them. The fire had not signed their hair or scorched their robes! They didn’t even smell like smoke! King Nebuchadnezzar announced, “I give praise to the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They chose to die rather than worship any other god, so He sent his angel to rescue them. From now on, whoever says anything against their God will be torn to pieces and their house destroyed! No other god could do this!” Then he promoted Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to even higher positions.
The three Jewish friends could have rationalized and bowed down to the king’s statue. They could have argued that bowing was an external action, and the important issue was who they worshiped in their hearts. Or they could have justified it by thinking they could do a lot more for God if they were alive rather than dead! Instead, they put their lives on the line and courageously took a stand. Are you willing to stand up for God—even when it seems like you have a lot to lose?