Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If 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. But 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.” Daniel 3:16-18
Although Nebuchadnezzar had acknowledged the power of Daniel’s God after the contents of his dream had been revealed and interpreted, the experience had never really changed him.
In fact, shortly after his encounter with Daniel, the king built a model of the statue he had seen in his dream; this ninety-foot tall image was made of gold.
After gathering the leaders of his kingdom together for the statue’s dedication, Nebuchadnezzar issued a proclamation: every person there was to fall and worship the statue instantly when they heard the musicians play. Anyone who refused to worship the idol would be immediately thrown into a blazing furnace.
While everyone else was worshipping, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were battling against the crushing oppression which was attempting to bring them to their knees.
As the exotic music began to play, a strange, seductive darkness began to descend on the people who were present. While everyone else was worshipping, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were battling against the crushing oppression which was attempting to bring them to their knees.
As soon as the ceremony had concluded, the defiance of the three Hebrews was reported to the king. Furious with rage, Nebuchadnezzar ordered that they be brought into his presence. He told the Hebrews they must bow down before the image when the music played.
Their response to the king’s threats, however, stunned Nebuchadnezzar: “Our God is able to save us from the fiery furnace. We know He will rescue us from your hand. Yet, even if He doesn’t choose to rescue us, we will never worship your gods or the golden image you have erected.”
You will find there are times when the only reward of your obedience is the pleasure it brings to the heart of God.
Nebuchadnezzar was beside himself with fury. After ordering the furnace to be heated seven times hotter than normal, he commanded some of his most powerful soldiers to bind the Hebrews and throw them into the fire. The blazing furnace was so hot, however, that some of the guards were killed while following the king’s orders.
As for Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, they were totally unharmed, because God himself had entered the furnace with them.
The king jumped up from his throne. “I thought you only threw three men into the furnace,” he bellowed.
“That is correct, your majesty,” one of his servants replied.
“Look for yourself,” Nebuchadnezzar cried. “There are four men in the furnace, and the only things which have burned are their bonds. One of them even looks like a son of the gods. Come out! Come out, O servants of the Most High God,” the King pleaded.
When the young Hebrew men came out of the furnace, the King and his advisors were even more amazed. They had not been singed or scorched, and there was no smell of smoke on them.
What lessons can we learn from this amazing story of God’s deliverance?
There is a measure of God’s presence and power which can be experienced only in times of suffering and pain.
First, although the three Hebrews were confident of God’s deliverance, they had already determined to obey God, whether He delivered them or not. Unlike many believers, who only obey God in order to escape a difficult situation or some fiery trial, these courageous young men were simply obeying God because it was the right thing to do.
You will find there are times when the only reward of your obedience is the pleasure it brings to the heart of God. In fact, if anything, your obedience will only stoke the raging fires of the furnace in which you have been placed.
Second, the three young men met the Son of God in a whole new way through their horrible ordeal. When they were thrown into the furnace, Jesus Himself was waiting to protect them through His miraculous Presence. They were experiencing what the Apostle Paul calls the “fellowship of sharing in His sufferings” (Philippians 3:10).
In my own life, I have found it to be no different. There is a measure of God’s presence and power which can be experienced only in times of suffering and pain. Sadly, this is not the experience of many Christians.
Instead of being transformed by their pain, as they receive Christ’s strength (through His Presence) to endure their suffering, they are deformed. They are deformed because they have become so bitter and offended with Jesus over their pain that they refuse to fellowship with him in the midst of their sufferings.
Third, when they came out of the furnace, the young men were totally unscathed. Their clothes did not even smell like smoke.
It’s no different for you today; no matter what type of ordeal you are undergoing, God is able to meet you in such a way that you will be neither scarred nor marred. In fact, as you walk out of your furnace, your faith will be shining with new confidence, and your character will be purer than the finest gold.