Faith in the Fire
In Daniel 3 we meet three Jews who worked for King Nebuchadnezzar,
overseeing the region of Babylon. Their names were: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. That’s a mouthful, I know. But here’s the story.
The king commanded that all people bow down and worship a golden image that he himself set up. Anyone who refused would be thrown into a fiery furnace.
The three men refused.
Even though they worked for the king, they were Jews. So they would not bow down to his false god.
The king was furious that his own employees would not obey his mandate. So he had the furnace heated seven-times hotter than normal, and he ordered the men be thrown into it.
The men were tied and bound, and the king’s guards led them to the furnace. It was so hot that when they threw the men inside, the guards themselves were immediately burned and died.
The king went to the furnace hoping to see the men also dead. But when he looked inside he said, “I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.” (Daniel 3:25)
The God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came to them in the fires furnace, unbound them, and protected them from destruction. And from that moment on, the king was a believer in the God of Israel.
Gosh, this story hit me on so many levels today.
First, I think we’re all living out Daniel 3 right now on some level. Maybe it’s because the world as we know it is turning away from God at rapid speed. Maybe it’s because there’s a thousand different things we’re expected to “bow down” to nowadays — society’s various images of gold and fame. Maybe it’s because you feel pressured by current mandates that conflict with your conscience. Maybe it’s because those mandates are even being enforced by your employer. Maybe you just feel out-numbered, targeted, or bound.
Like I said, I think we all can relate to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in some way.
But do we REACT like them?
You might have expected those three men to react to their unfortunate circumstances with sorrow, anxiety, fear, and despair. And who could blame them if they did.
But that’s not how they reacted. Instead, they faced their trials courageously, saying, “Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king.” (Daniel 3:17)
How many of us are courageously and firmly saying that right now?
“Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from… the mandates, the pressure, the animosity, the world…”
If you’re like most of us, that’s hard to say regularly.
And maybe that’s why things are so hard right now. Because we lack that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego mentality.
Those men trusted that their trials weren’t the end of their story.
You see, if we stop reading Daniel 3 at verse 15 (the mandate), then this is a seemingly hopeless tale. If we stop reading at verse 18 (the refusal to bow down), then this is a fateful tale. If we stop reading at verse 19 (the death sentence, 7-times hotter than normal) then this is an impossible tale. If we stop reading at verse 23 (when the men are thrown into the furnace) then this is a martyr’s tale.
But Daniel 3 isn’t any of those.
This is a tale of victory and triumph and miraculous conversion—not just of the king, but his entire kingdom.
You see when the king witnessed the saving miracle of those three men, he made a new mandate: “Any people, nation, or language that speaks anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be torn limb from limb, and their houses laid in ruins, for there is no other god who is able to rescue in this way.” (Daniel 3:29)
The men were not only restored to their jobs then; they were promoted. Everything was completely restored, better than before. And the men didn’t have to do anything but have faith in God.