In Daniel chapter 3 we read an amazing story of persecution, faith, and deliverance (read it here).
The story begins with Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian king, building a large golden image for the purpose of corporate worship. It was simple, worship or be thrown into a burning fiery furnace. Once the command to bow or die went forward everyone obeyed, everyone that is, except for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They were worshipers of the one true God – YHWH. Despite the tremendous consequences they faced, God alone was worthy of their worship and they would not bow to another.
In their refusal to worship another, they told the king, “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.” The king was furious and ordered that the men be sent to the burning fiery furnace. But to the king’s surprise, the men were unscathed as they stood calmly in the flames of the furnace. The fire had no affect on them. We read that a fourth man, One who looked like a Son of the gods, came to their rescue and delivered them from the fiery furnace. In v 28 we read, “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…'” The God that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego trusted in (the only true God) came to their rescue and delivered them from the flames of the furnace. As a result, King Nebuchadnezzar praised God for His mighty work. The man who wanted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego dead for worshiping their God was now praising that same God.
This is an incredible story, but what does it have to do with you and me?
There are at least four things that we should take away from this story.
First, notice the incredible peer pressure that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego faced and overcame. They were being pressured to bow down to a golden image or die! It would have been very easy to give in and say to each other, “It’s not worth it, guys. Let’s just do what the king says and we will live!” But that is not what they did. God was of more value than their very lives. They were not only going to live for Him, but they were willing to die for Him. The pressure from the king didn’t seem to phase them.
We may never experience the same level of pressure that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego faced – do this or die – but there will be times when we are pressured or enticed into doing what we know is wrong. And in those times we need to stand firm and do what’s right even if that means there are consequences. We may lose friends; we might have family members that are disappointed with us; we may miss out on promotions at work, or other advancements in life; but as Christians we are called to do what’s right even when it costs us. We must recognize that God is of more value than life itself.
Worship God Alone
Second, notice Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego worshiped God alone. The passage tells us, in v18, that they told the king, “be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” Only one God was worthy of their worship and that was the only true God – YHWH.
We don’t bow down to golden images or pray to false gods but we are certainly guilty of worshiping idols. Whether we realize it or not, we have a tendency to serve false gods – the god of money, the god of success, the god of approval, the god of family, the god of hobbies and sports – you name it, it could be anything! There are so many things that rival God’s place in our hearts. But those things do not have the ability to bring us the satisfaction that God can. God alone should be the Treasure of hearts.
God Allows Suffering
Third, notice that God allows suffering for His glory. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego suffered extreme persecution and were even thrown into a burning fiery furnace (terrifying) for their refusal to bow down to the king’s golden image. Although God miraculously delivered them from the flames that surround them, He could have very easily kept it from going that far. Once Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego boldly refused to bow down to the golden image God could have carried them away to safety right then and there. However, these guys face persecution, get brought before the evil king, and are even thrown into the fiery furnace. They experience tremendous fear but then God delivers them. All of this causes King Nebuchadnezzar to praise God (v.26,28,29). God allows Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to go through difficulty to bring praise to His name.
God may cause us to go through difficulty and suffering for His glory and our benefit. Through suffering God shapes and molds us into the people He wants us to be. Just image how much Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s faith must have grown as a result of being saved from the flames of the furnace. Through suffering God brings praise to His name. King Nebuchadnezzar praises God after seeing the miracle of deliverance. God may be using suffering to bring about the same results in our lives. Our suffering is not vain. God has purpose for allowing it in our lives – His glory and our benefit.
Delivered by Faith
Fourth, notice v28: “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…'” Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were thrown into a fiery furnace and left to die. Left to themselves there is no way they would survive. They were hopeless and helpless but then the God they trusted in delivered them and they were saved. It’s an amazing story of faith and deliverance.
The same God that delivered Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in that fire years ago is the same God that still delivers today. We need to know that each and every one of us deserves the flames of hell for our sinfulness. On our own there is no way we can save ourselves. We are hopeless and helpless. But for those of us who trust in Christ we will be delivered. Through faith in Christ’s life, death, and resurrection we will be rescued from the wrath we deserve.
Jesus is our Deliverer, our Hope, and our Treasure. Let Him forever be on the forefront of our minds.