“Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thy hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” (Daniel 3:16-18)
Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were among the Jews, along with Daniel, taken captive by the Babylonians. Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian king, saw that some of the Jews were young and bright, so instead of making them slaves, he chose to have them educated in Babylonian culture so they could serve him. The king also gave them Babylonian names: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
Nebuchadnezzar had a giant statue made and commanded all the people to worship it—anyone refusing would be thrown into a fiery furnace. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had decided in advance to refuse. The Chaldean fortune-tellers who worked for the king heard of their refusal and told the king.
Ironically, Daniel and his three friends had previously saved the Chaldeans’ lives. Nebuchadnezzar had a troubling dream one night but couldn’t remember it. He asked his fortune-tellers to tell him the dream and what it meant. They couldn’t tell him the dream, so he became angry. He suspected that they were phonies, which they were. He commanded that all the wise men should be destroyed, even Daniel and his three friends. Daniel and his friends got together and asked God to give them the dream and the interpretation—God did. Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar the dream and what it meant. Nebuchadnezzar was pleased. The Chaldeans’ lives were saved. This is how the Chaldeans showed their gratitude.
When the king confronted the three Jews about bowing down, they said, “…we are not careful to answer thee in this matter…” They already had their answer ready. They also knew that God could deliver them from the furnace. Then they said, “…and he will deliver us out of thy hand, O king…” They didn’t know that God would spare them, but even if they burned to death in the furnace, they would be in heaven with God. What a wonderful hope for eternity! So they said,”…But if not,…”, that is, if God let them burn to death, the last thing the king would hear from them was that they would not bow down to the image.
The king had them bound and thrown into the furnace. Not only did they not burn, but the fire didn’t hurt them, and the king saw the Lord Jesus in the furnace with them. He ordered them removed from the furnace, promoted them, and commanded that no ill word should be spoken against their God. Consider this thought: when they defied the king and looked death in the face, they had no idea that their story would be included in Scripture, that countless sermons would be preached from this passage, and that many people’s hearts would be touched and challenged to take a stand for Christ as they did, regardless the consequences. How mightily God used this one episode of faith and courage by these young men!
You’ve probably seen YouTube videos of cops doing a kind deed. The cop doing the deed isn’t looking for fame, but the deed is caught on video, goes viral on the Internet, and the benefit of the deed goes beyond what the officer had imagined. Now think what happens when you do something in Christ’s service: invite someone to church, strive to live right, hand out a tract, or pray. Don’t ever think that what you do to serve Christ isn’t that important. You never know how God will use even some small deed that you do to touch lives in a mighty way, as he used the faith and courage of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
If you’ve never seen in the Bible how to have hope for eternity, please click “How do I go to Heaven?” on the sidebar.
Brian Miller 11/3/2015
Cleveland Baptist Church | 4431 Tiedeman Road, Brooklyn, Ohio 44144 | 216-671-2822