- Dan. 3:1-30
This is one of the greatest stories of faith bringing a victory in all of the Bible. Nebuchadnezzar set up a golden statue which was 90 feet tall and 9 feet wide—that's as tall as a 9 story building. Then Nebuchadnezzar made a law that when the instrument sounded, everyone had to bow down in worship to the statue. The punishment for disobedience was death by being thrown into the fiery furnace. And so it was, whenever the people heard the music, they all fell down and worshiped—well, almost everyone that is.
Some astrologers (people who believe that movements in the stars and planets impact events in peoples' lives) told the king that three Jews—Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego—were refusing to obey the king and bow in worship to his statue. As you might imagine, the king was furious. He sent for them immediately and asked if this was true. He reminded the three of the law, and then he gave them one more chance to submit to his command. This was their answer:
16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17 If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. 18 But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.”
(Dan. 3:16-18 NKJV)
What a tremendous response of faith! It would be easy to imagine if these three Jews had doubted whether GOD was truly with them any longer. Their people had been so evil and they were living away from the homeland He had promised. Yet they remained fully convinced in GOD's ability to save them. Note that they had no knowledge as to whether GOD would choose to save their lives or if they would die. They simply said that GOD is able to save us.
Sure enough, this response infuriated Nebuchadnezzar even more. He ordered the furnace heated seven times more than normal. He appointed some of his strongest soldiers to bind Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the furnace. The flames were so hot that the soldiers who threw them in died in the process.
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.” 26 Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!” So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire, 27 and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.
28 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. 29 Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way.”
30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the province of Babylon.
(Dan. 3:24-30 NIV)
We don't know for certain why GOD chose to save the lives of these three men. But we can certainly see at least a few possible reasons. First, GOD used this opportunity to demonstrate that He alone is the supreme God. Perhaps He was using this as a teaching moment for Nebuchadnezzar to see that He is greater than all other gods. Perhaps GOD was rewarding the three Jews for their faith. Or perhaps He was using this as a faith-building lesson for the Israelites who were in captivity and would certainly hear of the news.
Obviously for us the challenging question we must ask ourselves is, "What would I do if this happened to me today? Would I have the courage to stand up to a king under threat of death?" It would be easier to stand up if we knew with absolute certainty that GOD would save us. However, there are plenty of examples throughout the Bible where GOD chose not to spare the person's earthly life and they died for His cause. Jesus told the Christians in the town of Smyrna to be faithful unto the point of death and they would receive the crown of righteousness (Rev. 2:10). One day, we too might be called upon to give our life in order to stand for the truth of GOD and His Son Jesus Christ. That is a scary thought. May GOD help us develop a faith which would withstand such an attack.