We all know this story, from Daniel chapter 3: King Nebuchadnezzar had set up a tall, golden image of himself, and had issued a decree that when anybody heard any kind of music, they were to fall down in worship of the image. Three Jewish men, however (Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego) refused to comply; even though they faced a penalty of burning in a furnace for their defiance. This outraged the King, particularly when the men answered the King’s specific command to worship the image:
“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.”
Livid with rage, the kind had the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual, and had the men bound and thrown in. The furnace was so hot, in fact, that the soldiers who threw them in died.
Upon inspecting the furnace, the king found that not only did the men appear to be alive and well; but a fourth man was also present with them. A man who “looked like a son of the gods” (v 3:25). So he called the men out, and responded in awe and praise at the power of the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego:
“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.”
What an awesome God we serve! And there are some really amazing things to take away from this chapter:
1. Our God is Mighty to Save
Probably the most obvious, and most awesome, lessons to be learned from this particular story is that God is completely capable and powerful enough to save us from any and every situation. God upholds the righteous, and saves us from trouble; either temporarily, from worldly suffering and tribulations; or ultimately, when we go to be in heaven with Christ.
2. Our God is Whom we should Fear
This story reminds me of Jesus’ words to His disciples in Matthew 10, when He is advising them regarding men who will hate and persecute them:
“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell”. Matthew 10:28
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego didn’t fear the soldiers, the king, or the furnace – no, they feared disobeying God more than burning in a furnace. That is absolutely incredible! I wonder what kind of fruit we would bear in our lives if such a powerful, godly fear took hold of our hearts in pure, undivided worship to our God above all other earthly pursuits.
3. Our God is Worthy of the Glory
The bravery of the three Jewish men in the face of death as penalty for their faith is incredible as it is – what is even more astounding, however, is their acknowledgement that even if God did not save them from the fire, they would still not serve other gods. This is because they were secure and confident in the worthiness and power of the one true God to receive worship and glory, and the idea of persecution – while certainly painful and terrifying – to them was not worth comparing to the glory that would God would receive in light of such true faith and devotion from these godly men.
Our sacrifice may end up in earthly success – much like it did for Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego – but other times, it may not. But even if it doesn’t, our loyalty to Christ leads to His glory. Our delight in and desire for God to be glorified among the nations is a firm stronghold against fear of the world, leading to weak faith and idolatry. Let us instead pray that we would be filled with and strengthened by a true, pure, fear of the Lord – this will sustain us unto a fortitude and power in our faiths that we otherwise wouldn’t experience!
Some questions to consider:
1. Do you trust in God’s ability and power to save you – from sin, trouble, temptations and the like?
2. Do you tend to fear people or things more than God? Does there need to be a shift in what you find most reverent and awesome in your life?
3. Is God’s glory your highest priority? If not, what is your highest priority? What do you need to pray for/experience so that you will be completely devoted to Christ and His Kingdom?