Three men. One enormous statue, matched only by the enormous ego of a king. One fiery furnace, and a miraculous deliverance.
The story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego is the stuff of legends. As you scroll through this often recounted story, there are several lines of Scripture that jump out at you:
“People of every nation and language, you are commanded … to fall down and worship the gold statue that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up” (Daniel 3:4-5).
“Nebuchadnezzar, we don’t need to give you an answer to this question” (Daniel 3:16).
“These men, in their trousers, robes, head coverings, and other clothes, were tied up and thrown into the furnace of blazing fire” (Daniel 3:21).
“Didn’t we throw three men, bound, into the fire?” (Daniel 3:24).
“I see four men, not tied, walking around in the fire unharmed; and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.” (Daniel 3:25).
But here’s the statement that’s resting on me today. The three Hebrews are faced with a life and death decision: Who will you serve? Who will you worship?
Or maybe this question:
“What do you really believe?”
And they answered like this: “The God we serve is able to rescue us from the furnace of blazing fire, and He can rescue us from the power of you, the king. But even if He does not rescue us…”
Here we find a faith in God. Not in God’s power. Not in God’s ability. That was a given to them. The question is not whether God is able. Their faith went bigger: they believed in a God who was not only able to deliver, but wise enough to know when and how to do it. That is staggering.
But wait – it gets better.
Let’s not forget this: These men were in Babylon. A foreign nation. A pagan nation. And the reason they were there was that God had chosen to use this same king, Nebuchadnezzar, to lay waste to the city of Jerusalem and carry off many of its inhabitants, Daniel and these three men included. This confrontation occurred at a time in history when the future of the people of Israel was in doubt.
Surely there was more than one Israelite who looked at the ruin of their nation and what had become of their lives and wondered: Has God abandoned us? Is He still for us? Where was the miraculous deliverance from the God who parted the Red Sea when Babylon destroyed our nation?
It’s one thing to make a statement like these three men when everything is peachy; it’s another matter to say it when you’re living in exile.
And yet, even in the midst of those circumstances, these men believed. They believed not just in God’s power, but in God Himself. And they put their lives on the line for it.