At times our voice seems small and powerless to change things when others are in power and things don’t go our way. Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego teach us that we can respond with faith and obedience to God, and that he will be with us in our fiery furnaces…
1 King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, sixty cubits high and six cubits wide, and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon.
4 Then the herald loudly proclaimed, “Nations and peoples of every language, this is what you are commanded to do: 5 As soon as you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, you must fall down and worship the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. 6 Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.”
8 At this time some astrologers came forward and denounced the Jews.
12 “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, Your Majesty. They neither serve your gods nor worship the image of gold you have set up.”
16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”
21 So these men, wearing their robes, trousers, turbans and other clothes, were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace. 22 The king’s command was so urgent and the furnace so hot that the flames of the fire killed the soldiers who took up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, 23 and these three men, firmly tied, fell into the blazing furnace.
24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?”
They replied, “Certainly, Your Majesty.”
25 He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”
Daniel 3:1, 4-6, 8, 12, 16-18, 21-25
If you have been following along on the Daniel posts so far, you will know that God puts us in the middle of Babylon at times for his purpose and will to be fulfilled in us. Daniel was tested and responded with grace and even submission to authority as he desired to follow God’s commands. God provided for Daniel and blessed him to thrive and glorify the Lord’s name through this experience.
It seemed to be a great example of how we can quietly and respectfully serve and revere God while living under the authority of Babylonian-type authorities in our lives. We don’t get to choose our political leaders, local leaders, bosses, or other authorities.
Even if we have a vote or personal choice, there are times when our voice is so small it does not bring any power to change our circumstances. It takes God’s hand of intervention and protection to see us through.
There are other times, however, when we need to be a bit more firm with our stance. That’s what happened with the golden idol. Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego knew that they were to not bow to worship any idol. They were to worship the Lord God and serve him only. And so, when the King required idol worship of all people in Babylon, they quietly ignored the call to worship. And they were found out.
Notice that they didn’t protest. They didn’t picket. They didn’t create websites or mount campaigns of civil disobedience. They quietly refused to worship the golden idol. Think about what that might look like in our society as laws and duties and expectations of the public change and evolve to a place where not only is God not worshiped, but idols are set up in God’s place and are expected to be worshiped. How do you respond to those calls to worship idols?
Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego were brought before the King. He asked what they were thinking and even reminded them of the consequence, in which they would be burned alive. Their answer was, again, calm, collected, and gracious toward the King. They respectfully replied that God is able to deliver them from it, and he would save them. And they added that even if God didn’t save them, they would not worship the image of gold. No social media campaign. No petition. No whining. They responded with faith and obedience to God.
God did save them. They didn’t burn in the fire. The King’s servants who took them to the fire were engulfed and died in the blaze. Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego were unscathed, and notice they were joined by a fourth man in the fire. No one threw him in. He appeared in there with them. He looked god-like, the advisor to the King said.
Yup. We believe this was Jesus. A Christophany: an appearance of Jesus before his incarnation. Why was he there? Maybe to encourage the three:
Keep it up. Keep standing for me. Keep obeying. I have your back. And even if I don’t rescue you, you will be with me because I am here. Now and always.
What encouragement is that to you today in your fiery furnace situation? And can you respond with more faith today to serve God, resist idols, and make a stand for the Eternal King?