Reading For Wednesday Daniel 3:1-30
Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold and apparently intended to create an official religion in which the state, symbolized by the image, was the object of worship. The statue was massive, ninety feet high and nine feet wide. Nebuchadnezzar ordered the officials of the empire to gather for the dedication of the statue. A herald loudly proclaimed the purpose of the gathering as he moved through the great crowd. The king had decreed that when a musical signal was given, everyone present was to fall down and worship the image. Those that refused to comply with this mandate would be cast into a burning furnace. Most would have been anxious to curry favor with Nebuchadnezzar no matter what demands he might make while others would have bowed to the image because of fear and obligation.
Without any specifics, nameless Chaldeans came forward to bring charges against three Jewish young men. They addressed Nebuchadnezzar with universal respect, repeated the commandment, and reminded the king of the punishment which he had stipulated. They did not name the offenders, they merely called them certain Jews and identified them as men that Nebuchadnezzar had appointed over the administration of the province of Babylon. The Chaldeans finally named the accused: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and charged them with malfeasance. The king was furious when he heard the allegations and immediately summoned Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Nebuchadnezzar sought to verify the facts, offered them another opportunity to comply, repeated the warning, and mocked their faith in God. The response of the Hebrew young men was respectful, but at the same time, audacious and theologically sound. They made no attempt at compliance with the king’s edict. The young men refused to apologize for their action, confessed their allegiance to God, testified to God’s power, acknowledged the sovereignty of God, expressed confidence in God's grace, and declared their unwavering loyalty to God.
Nebuchadnezzar went into a rage and ordered that the furnace be heated seven times more than it was usually heated. Mighty men were commanded to bind the offenders and cast them into the furnace, and the king must have known that these soldiers would be sacrificed in the process. The three were thrown into the midst of the furnace. Apparently, the king could see through an opening in the furnace and what he saw left him baffled. He verified the number of young men that were bound and cast into the furnace. He announced that he saw four men walking about within the furnace and likened the fourth man to a son of the gods. After some time, the fire died down enough for the king to approach the door of the furnace. He respectfully addressed Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego as "servants of the Most High God” and invited the young men to come out of the furnace. The fire had not singed even a single hair of their heads. Even their clothing was not damaged, nor did it smell as though they had been through a fire.
Nebuchadnezzar was amazed by the power of a God who could accomplish such a spectacular feat. The king burst forth with praise for the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. The king was impressed by a belief so strong that they were willing to put their lives on the line rather than worship what they did not recognize as God. Such trust had been rewarded. The king issued a proclamation that no one would be permitted to speak evil of the God of the Hebrews. The mandate was backed with the warning that violators would be torn limb from limb and their houses laid in ruin. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were then given promotions.
Things To Consider:
- Do you think that the golden image may have been connected to Nebuchadnezzar's dream? Why or why not?
- Why is pride so dangerous?
- How do we build images for ourselves?
- How should you handle accusations whether true or not?
- Why do you think Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were respectful to the king in their disagreement?
- How should we treat those political figures that we disagree with?
- How do you feel when you read about their bold declaration of faith?
- Are there times that you have had to stand for your faith? Is there any circumstances that you are facing that require you to take a risk of faith?
- What comfort do you receive in knowing that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were not left in the fire alone?