Scripture: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” Daniel 3:16-18 ESV
Observation: Chapter 3 tells the story of how Daniel’s three companions refuse to bow and worship Nebuchadnezzar’s towering gold image. When those jealous of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s rise to governing power learn of their refusal to follow the king’s edict, they seize the opportunity to incite Nebuchadnezzar with the news. Furious, the king calls for the three to give an account of their actions. Unwaveringly, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego make no excuses or apologies. Instead, they declare that they will not serve or worship any pagan god, whether or not the God of Israel delivers them from the flames (above verses).
Raging at this point, Nebuchadnezzar orders the three to be bound and thrown into the furnace once it is heated seven times hotter. Nebuchadnezzar then looks on from a safe distance and, to his surprise, sees Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego unbound and walking freely through the furnace along with a fourth person who is like “a son of the gods.” So he orders them to come out and present themselves to him. Observing that their hair was unsinged and that there was no scent of smoke, Nebuchadnezzar rightfully praises the God of Israel. He then declares that anyone who speaks against the “God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego” will face execution. Lastly, he promotes the three to the chagrin of those who sought their lives.
Takeaway: Not every story in the Bible ends with a miraculous rescue. Indeed, Jesus and several of his disciples faced excruciating executions by crucifixion or stoning because they refused to bow down to the gods of this world. But God’s grace triumphed in each instance. And similar to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s story, God received the glory and “promoted” the Gospel to the chagrin of the Enemy.
For us, it is no different. The Lord’s grace will be sufficient to carry us through any life-threatening trials (no matter the outcome) when we trust in his deliverance of our souls. Meanwhile, if we hold fast to this truth and boldly press on with what lies ahead, the Holy Spirit will promote us to more wondrous kingdom works.
Prayer: Father God, we thank you for stories like that of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego that inspire us to live out our faith courageously. And we thank you for your Son, who is our ultimate example and means of your grace. Would you please help us to trust in your care of our souls no matter what lies ahead, that we might boldly grow your kingdom and glorify your name? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling