Key Verse: “Then Nebuchadnezzar said, 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.”
—Daniel 3:28, New International Version
KING NEBUCHADNEZZAR had constructed an image of gold, and made a decree that as soon as music was sounded, all the people must “fall down and worship the image of gold,” and whoever did not would “immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.” (Dan. 3:1-6, NIV) When the music sounded, all the people fell down and worshipped the image. It was told to Nebuchadnezzar, however: “There are some Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon—Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego—who pay no attention to you, O king. They neither serve your gods nor worship the image of gold you have set up.”—vss. 7-12, NIV
Although extremely angry, Nebuchadnezzar called for the three Hebrews and gave them another chance to obey the command to fall down and worship the golden image. He warned them, though, saying, “If you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?”—vss. 13-15, NIV
The three Hebrews had firmly made up their minds to follow the commandments God gave to Israel: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me. … Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image. … Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them.” (Exod. 20:3-5) They replied to the king: “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. … 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.”—Dan. 3:16-18, NIV
The three young Jews had a bold faith which trusted in God regardless of the outcome. If God chose, he could deliver them from the furnace. However, if God’s providence saw fit to not deliver them out of this experience, they would still remain faithful to him, even though it meant certain death.
Nebuchadnezzar was furious when he heard their response. He ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual and commanded that his strongest soldiers tie up the three defiant Hebrews and throw them into the blazing furnace. (vss. 19-23) When the three young men were thrown into the furnace, they soon appeared to be unbound, and walking around unharmed. There was also a fourth being seen in the furnace with them, an angel of the Lord. Nebuchadnezzar then called them to come out of the furnace, and saw that the fire had done them no harm whatsoever. (vss. 24-27) Surely, this was an incredible miracle!
Let us also develop a bold faith, so that when we face a difficult choice or experience, we will choose to obey God and his principles given in the Scriptures. This we should desire to do, even if it means we are ridiculed or unpopular, or if it results in unpleasant consequences. As the Apostle Peter tells us: “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings.”—I Pet. 4:12-13