That’s really the challenge for us all, isn’t it? Trusting IN God regardless … regardless of whether He alleviates our persecution … our suffering … our trials and tribulation … in this temporal world. I believe there is a great deal to learn about such trust in the account of Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego … and also through John the Baptist. Today in part 1, let’s look at how the faith of Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego was tested in Daniel chapter 3 ….
Therefore at that time certain Chaldeans came forward and maliciously accused the Jews. They declared to King Nebuchadnezzar, “O king, live forever! You, O king, have made a decree, that every man who hears the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, shall fall down and worship the golden image. And whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast into a burning fiery furnace. There are certain Jews whom you have appointed over the affairs of the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These men, O king, pay no attention to you; they do not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” Then Nebuchadnezzar in furious rage commanded that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be brought. So they brought these men before the king. Nebuchadnezzar answered and said to them, “Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up? Now if you are ready when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, well and good. But if you do not worship, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?” vs 8-15 (ESV)
These three young men were faced with a true test of faith … succumb to the pressure of an earthly king … the pressures of the world … or remain ever faithful to God Almighty. Remember … in the Torah they had the historical account of what had happened to their ancestors when they worshipped the golden calf in the midst of the Exodus from Egypt to the Promised Land. Would they repeat the sins of their forefathers?
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.” vs 16-18 (ESV)
What does their response reveal about what they believed?
- The God whom they served is able to deliver them from the fiery furnace
- The God whom they served will deliver them out of the king’s hand (meditate on that answer a bit … possibly a deliverance beyond that of just the fiery furnace?)
- But if God does not deliver them from the fiery furnace, they will NOT serve the king’s gods (little ‘g’) or worship the golden image … the idol … he had set up.
Trusting IN God regardless!
So the king … who did not share in their beliefs … had them thrown into the fiery furnace. And look what happened …
And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell bound into the burning fiery furnace. Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.” Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the door of the burning fiery furnace; he declared, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here!” Then 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 cloaks were not harmed, and no smell of fire had come upon them. Nebuchadnezzar answered and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set aside the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God. vs 23-28 (ESV)
What do we learn in the midst of the fiery furnace?
- In the midst of the fiery furnace (our persecution, suffering, trials and tribulations), Jesus is right there with Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego (and us) regardless of the outcome … I find GREAT comfort and solace in that truth!
- As we learned in the last post, God will have mercy on who He has mercy … He will have compassion on who He has compassion … God’s choice. In this case, He delivered the three young men from the fiery furnace. Why?
- Also as we learned in the last post, God reveals Himself through His great works and His Light illuminates the darkness … in this case, Nebuchadnezzar … at least for the moment … because of God’s great works … a miracle … saw and believed in the Almighty God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
- And to emphasize one more point from yesterday, in the midst of their fiery furnace ordeal, their endurance, character, hope and no doubt faith were all built up and strengthened.
Oh Lord, thank you for what you have taught us all in the midst of the ordeal of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego!
NEXT: We take a look at a different outcome through jailhouse ordeal of John the Baptist.