GETTING THE MESSAGE/Extraordinary faith in fiery furnace
The story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Adednego in Daniel three is a familiar story. It depicts the extraordinary faith of three men who refused to bow down and worship a golden image despite the threat of being thrown into a fiery furnace by king Nebuchadnezzar.
King Nebuchadnezzar had demanded complete compliance in worshipping before the tall golden image he had set up. When the orchestra began to play, all the people of Babylon fell down in worship. But it was reported to the king that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were not falling down to worship at the sound of the music.
So the king orders the men to be brought before him. He reasons with them. If they change their mind and comply, all is well, but if they refuse, into the fire they go, and the king says, “Who is the god who will deliver you out of my hand?”
The men however, had reasons of their own. They saw the situation as a matter of faithfulness. They said “Our God whom we serve,” meaning dancing to the king’s tune by bowing down to the image the king had set up was not happening. Idolatry was dishonoring to God and strictly forbidden by God. They feared the Lord more than the king.
The three men had other reasons for their willingness to be cast into the fire rather than disobey God. First, they saw the folly of idolatry. It is repeated nine times in Daniel chapter three that the image of gold was “set up” by king Nebuchadnezzar. There is no substance behind a set up god. It cannot give you eternal life. Only the living God can do that.
In chapter two when Daniel interpreted king Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, he described a stone not made by human hands that would build a kingdom that would crush all the kingdoms of men and last forever. It was a prophecy about the kingdom of God that Christ would establish when He came.
The three men believed God’s word. It’s rational to believe almighty God will keep His word.
Another reason these men were willing to die is they valued the kingdom of God and life with God more than the things of this world. The image of gold the king set up represented power, riches, and sinful pleasures. But there is no life in those things. Life is in God.
The short duration of mankind is set out in Scripture by the vanishing grass. Life is like a vapor soon disappearing. We need to let the consideration of God’s eternity turn our minds and affections away from this present world to His eternal kingdom. It is foolish to lose your soul for this present world.
We need to learn to live life with God. Many die without learning to live. The life of faith in Christ is truly life, and it is available to all. It’s never too late while we are here to learn how to live by faith. If you commit your soul to God, you can commit all other things in your life to Him. These three men had high thoughts of God. When you think a man is trustworthy, you rely upon his word. So they cast their lives upon God and sought the better portion than the people of Babylon had.
They also considered themselves servants of God. They called God, “our God.” It’s a great thing to know God has redeemed you and you can say “my God,” of Him. But to be a servant of God requires faith, and faith requires obedience. These men were willing to lose their lives rather than dishonor God. They told the king that God was able to deliver them from the fire, but even if He didn’t, they would not worship the image. They knew their souls would be delivered by God.
The Lord did deliver them. In verses 24-25, the king is shocked to see the three men with another man walking around in the fire as if on a nature trail, and the other man has the appearance of a divine being. The Lord is always with His people, in life and in death. You can put your trust in Him.
Ralph Davis has some helpful application; “Christ did not keep them out of the furnace but found them in it. He does not shield you from all distresses and dangers. He has a knack for exposing you to yet keeping you through waters, rivers, and fire (Isaiah 43), and operating rooms, funeral homes, and empty houses. The fourth man can always find his people.”