Read Daniel 3:13-30
13Furious with rage, Nebuchadnezzar summoned Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. So these men were brought before the king, 14and 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? 15Now when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes 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?"
16Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17If 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. 18But 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."
19Then Nebuchadnezzar was furious with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and his attitude toward them changed. He ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual 20and commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. 21So these men, wearing their robes, trousers, turbans and other clothes, were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace. 22The 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, 23and these three men, firmly tied, fell into the blazing furnace.
24Then 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, O king."
25He said, "Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods."
26Nebuchadnezzar 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, 27and 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.
28Then 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. 29Therefore 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."
30Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the province of Babylon. (NIV)
Here we come across one of the more well known stories in the Bible, the fiery furnace. We saw last week that a situation was set up that will test the faith of those who walk with the One God. This has been the case throughout history of both Jewish and Christians. During the 200 year period before Christ, when the Greeks were controlling the land, they put great restrictions on practicing the Jewish faith. Those who did were both shunned from society and killed. Circumcised men could not participate in the Greek games which caused many to try and find ways to reverse their circumcision to compete. This was how desperate the people came to be accepted in society. During the early years of Christianity, believers were brought before magistrates and told to denounce their faith and burn incense to the Roman emperor. Those who refused were beaten and some put to death by gladiators and animals.
But throughout history, we also see those who stood fast in their faith. They would not give in. And many of them died for that faith. They were ready to die. We see this in Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.
Notice that when confronted to give a defense, they say, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. What they are saying is that our lives have been an open book to our faith. To try to explain would serve no purpose as the hearer would not be convinced by the argument. They wanted their actions to speak for them. And that should be true of us.
Then notice they say that God is able to save us, but even if he doesn’t we will not bow down to your gods or worship the golden image. All too many people want to see the help before they make the statement. But in life, we truly only see God next to us as we stand in our faith against the various persecutions and trials we endure. As we step out in faith, God steps with us and then opens our eyes after we have committed. It would be nice to hear a voice telling us to stand, but history has shown us that we can stand in faith and God will be with us, even in death.
Finally, we see that even when we are involved in a miracle, others will not be so overwhelmed by that miracle to convert to believing in God themselves. Nebuchadnezzar does not give up his religion, even after witnessing this, but he does give those who believe freedom to worship. That is key in this passage. When we stand consistent in our faith, people notice that it is good for all people. It is our inconsistencies that give people pause and wonder how true our faith is.
How have you grown in your faith as you have walked through various trials in life? Have you felt God’s presence in the midst of certain trials?
Blessings and Peace