Daniel 3:1-30 (NRSV)
God saves the three men from the fire
King Nebuchadnezzar made a golden statue whose height was sixty cubits and whose width was six cubits; he set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. Then King Nebuchadnezzar sent for the satraps, the prefects, and the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the justices, the magistrates, and all the officials of the provinces to assemble and come to the dedication of the statue that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. So the satraps, the prefects, and the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the justices, the magistrates, and all the officials of the provinces, assembled for the dedication of the statue that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. When they were standing before the statue that Nebuchadnezzar had set up, the herald proclaimed aloud, "You are commanded, O peoples, nations, and languages, that when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, drum, and entire musical ensemble, you are to fall down and worship the golden statue that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. Whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be thrown into a furnace of blazing fire." Therefore, as soon as all the peoples heard the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, drum, and entire musical ensemble, all the peoples, nations, and languages fell down and worshiped the golden statue that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.
Accordingly, at this time certain Chaldeans came forward and denounced the Jews. They said to King Nebuchadnezzar, "O king, live forever! You, O king, have made a decree, that everyone who hears the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, drum, and entire musical ensemble, shall fall down and worship the golden statue, and whoever does not fall down and worship shall be thrown into a furnace of blazing fire. There are certain Jews whom you have appointed over the affairs of the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These pay no heed to you, O King. They do not serve your gods and they do not worship the golden statue that you have set up."
Then Nebuchadnezzar in furious rage commanded that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be brought in; so they brought those men before the king. Nebuchadnezzar said to them, "Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods and you do not worship the golden statue that I have set up? Now if you are ready when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, drum, and entire musical ensemble to fall down and worship the statue that I have made, well and good. But if you do not worship, you shall immediately be thrown into a furnace of blazing fire, and who is the god that will deliver you out of my hands?"
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to present a defense to you in this matter. If our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire and out of your hand, O king, let him deliver us. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods and we will not worship the golden statue that you have set up."
Then Nebuchadnezzar was so filled with rage against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego that his face was distorted. He ordered the furnace heated up seven times more than was customary, and ordered some of the strongest guards in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and to throw them into the furnace of blazing fire. So the men were bound, still wearing their tunics, their trousers, their hats, and their other garments, and they were thrown into the furnace of blazing fire. Because the king's command was urgent and the furnace was so overheated, the raging flames killed the men who lifted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. But the three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down, bound, into the furnace of blazing fire.
Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up quickly. He said to his counselors, "Was it not three men that we threw bound into the fire?" They answered the king, "True, O king." He replied, "But I see four men unbound, walking in the middle of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the fourth has the appearance of a god." Nebuchadnezzar then approached the door of the furnace of blazing fire and said, "Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!" So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out from the fire. And the satraps, the prefects, the governors, and the king's counselors gathered together and saw that the fire had not had any power over the bodies of those men; the hair of their heads was not singed, their tunics were not harmed, and not even the smell of fire came from them. Nebuchadnezzar said, "Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants who trusted in him. They disobeyed the king's command and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God. Therefore I make a decree: Any people, nation, or language that utters blasphemy 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 deliver in this way." Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the province of Babylon.
Today’s scripture is a well known and beloved story from the Bible. I can remember hearing this story in Sunday School, even as a little girl.
But, today, I have noticed something new! It strikes me that King Nebuchadnezzar was very, very fickle! It looks like he had no idea who or what he really wanted to worship. This is an important thing for us to notice because we will be called upon by others to “worship” all sorts of things and people.
Some people want us to worship our jobs, bosses, or doctors. Others want us to worship our spouses, parents, or our children. Still others want us to worship fancy cars, large mansions, paper money, or sparkly jewelry.
The list is endless, for there are many “gods” in our world. Anyone who we prioritize over God, Almighty, is our god. Any person--or thing--whose agenda, desires, and/or goals are more important to us, than those of God, has become an idol for us to worship.
Turn on the television or radio and we are told what to worship. Go to work or school we are told how to worship. Even hanging out with friends or family we are told what to worry about and when we should bow down.
But, today, we have the witness of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They remind us that it is not good to be fickle. I don’t want to worship my husband today, my money tomorrow, and my job the next day. Despite the many pressures to confirm to the idol worship of the world, I want to remain steadfastly devoted to my Lord and King, Jesus Christ!
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were threatened with a fiery furnace for their disobedience to the king. We may be threatened in all sorts of ways for our unwillingness to comply with the order to “fall down and worship” the gods whom the world has erected.
Perhaps we will lose friends, promotions, raises, popularity, or fame. But, there is still GOOD NEWS! Just as God was present with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace, God will be present with us as we put your bodies, reputations, and resources on the line for the Kingdom of Love.
I LOVE the words of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego when faced with the fiery furnace. They said, “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 (NASV).”
Wow! What an awesome commitment to their relationship with God! Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were not fickle! Instead they were faithful!
I love the statement, “Our God is able…but even if he does not.” Oh, Hallelujah! God is always able to rescue us from any “fiery furnace” we may be facing, for we know that “nothing is impossible for God (Luke 1:37).” But, even if God does not save us, will we remain faithful and loyal, trusting that God has “a good plan to prosper our lives and not to harm us, to give us a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11)?”
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were determined to be loyal to the God whom they loved and worshipped no matter what the cost! In essence, they said to the king, “BURN US UP!”
As a result of their courage, boldness, and faithfulness in the midst of trial and tribulation, God did save them and King Nebuchadnezzar and his ENTIRE kingdom came to know and respect their God! Their faithful witness became a great testimony to every “people, nation, and language.” In fact, we are still celebrating their example today!
As we stand steadfast for Christ, I believe that God will use our GOOD NEWS testimonies as a witness to all of the people within our spheres of influence! As we boldly refuse to worship the gods of this world, our faithfulness will bear witness to the Truth—God loves, God gave, God saves!
May we be as faithful in our witness and testimony as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego so that many may come running asking, “What must I do to be saved?”
What gods will you refuse to worship today? How do you trust God to save you from “the fiery furnace?”
Mighty God, I worship you! Thank you that you are the one and only true God, worthy of all of my praise and worship! Please forgive me for all of the times that I have been fickle in our relationship. Please give me the wisdom, courage, and strength to reject the worship of idols and to remain faithful to my relationship with you. I love you and I want others to love you as well! Please use my testimony to lead others to Christ! In Jesus’ Name, Amen and Amen.
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