I read the account of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego and the fiery furnace today. It was a miraculous event. Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego were taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar when he conquered Jerusalem during the reign of Jehoiakim. These young men, along with Daniel, were specially trained in order to serve the king of Babylon, at his request. Nebuchadnezzar had made a giant golden likeness of himself, and commanded everyone to bow down when they heard the music. These three men refused to worship the idol and were thrown into a furnace that was so hot, the flames and heat killed the soldiers who were putting them into it, as they carried out the king’s command. But Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego were completely unarmed. When Nebuchadnezzar commanded them to come out, they did not even smell like smoke.
It really is an awe-inspiring account to read; one of the more recognized miracles in the Old Testament. God had already demonstrated His awesome power by enabling Daniel to know and interpret a dream that Nebuchadnezzar had. Then He delivered the three Israelite’s from the fire in a show of spectacular power. Yet as I was reading the account this afternoon, it was something that preceded the miraculous delivery from the fire that impressed me the most. I propose to you that it may in fact be an even greater or more impressive miracle: the firmly resolved and settled response of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego. Their response to being told to worship the golden image is found in Daniel 3:16-18 “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”
Imagine that scene for just a moment. The entire population is dutifully worshiping the idol in the king’s presence. There are officials all around, ensuring the public’s cooperation. A large furnace is already ablaze; a visible reminder of what one can expect for non-compliance. Nebuchadnezzar was a conquering king. He didn’t mess around. There could be no doubt that he would follow through with his threats. The pressure to conform and save one’s neck would have been tremendous. The threat of being thrown alive into a fire would have been terrifying. And yet these three young men who were captives and foreigners in the land, without a moment’s hesitation and the threat of immediate fatal consequences, flatly refused the king. Only by God’s supernatural empowering could one stand firm against such pressure and threat. That was no work of the flesh, my friends. That was the sovereign hand of the One True God, providentially ordaining and sustaining His people to steadfastly remain in obedience to Him, despite the very tangible and immediate consequence of death by fire. He is the same God that you, through His Son Jesus, can directly approach in personal prayer right now. The same God who delivered by His power, these men from the fire, and enabled them to stand firm in the face of death, is the One who cares for you. He is a great and mighty God, who is worthy to be praised!
Soli Deo Gloria!