God honored Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego’s commitment to Him
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego reveal the great power that faith in God expresses on the behalf of believers. The faith of these three Hebrew men is exemplified by their reply to the king’s direct orders to them in Daniel 3:16-18. The king was unrelenting in his demand that they worship his idol, but they refused and responded with words of faith.
Daniel 3:16-18 (NKJV)
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 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. 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.”
Literally, “they were without need” to even answer the king’s demand. Another way to put it might be this, “King, there is really no need for us to even discuss this with you.” They went on to explain their faith in God by saying, “Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.” This is a statement affirming that not only is God able, but He will deliver them. However, before they made that statement, they said, “If that is the case,” meaning that if the king were to carry out his punishment of throwing them into the furnace, God would deliver them.
They continued by saying, “But if not....” Many people take this to mean that they were expressing doubt as to whether or not God would deliver them. Their statement at the end of the sentence has a completely opposite meaning, however. If they were expressing doubt in God, the logical conclusion would be that they would die in the furnace. However, if they died in the furnace, their defiant statement in verse 18 that they would still not serve the king’s gods or worship the image is ridiculous because they would already be dead! In reality, what they were saying was something like this:
King, we don’t even need to discuss this with you. If you want to throw us into the furnace, go right ahead. Our God is not only able to save us, but he will deliver us out of your control. And just so you know, if you change your mind and decide not to throw us into the furnace, we are still not going to follow your law and worship your gods or your idol!
The king was so enraged by the disobedience of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego that he commanded that they be executed in the furnace. He ordered that the furnace be heated to seven times its normal temperature. Then, he commanded that the most mighty-men of his army bind them and throw them into the furnace in Daniel 3:19-23.
Daniel 3:19-23 (NKJV)
19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was full of fury, and the expression on his face changed toward Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. He spoke and commanded that they heat the furnace seven times more than it was usually heated. 20 And he commanded certain mighty men of valor who were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, and cast them into the burning fiery furnace. 21 Then these men were bound in their coats, their trousers, their turbans, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. 22 Therefore, because the king’s command was urgent, and the furnace exceedingly hot, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. 23 And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.
The furnace was so hot that the king’s guards were themselves consumed by the fire at the opening. However, the fire was not to consume the three Hebrews. God honored their commitment to Him not to worship the idol and was with them in the furnace as described by Nebuchadnezzar. However, there was a fourth individual that Nebuchadnezzar saw with them in the furnace. They were all without any injury. The fourth person in the furnace was identified in Daniel 3:24-25 as having the form of the Son God, which would be Jesus! They were saved from death without even a trace of the smell of smoke upon them.
Daniel 3:24-25 (NKJV)
24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished; and he rose in haste and spoke, saying to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” 25 “Look!” he answered, “I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.”
The king was astonished at what he saw. It was also witnessed by all the dignitaries that were called to the dedication ceremony for the idol. They saw the protection that God provided to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. The king made a decree that if anyone spoke against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, they would be destroyed. He acknowledged that only the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego could deliver in this way because they would not submit to the law to worship the idol. Nebuchadnezzar did not turn from his idol worship or the worship of his gods, but he acknowledged that this demonstration changed his word, the word of the king. Unlike the acts of God discussed in Chapter 5 of Ideolatry, this was a real act of God, in which God protected and delivered His servants, ultimately raising them to even higher honor as the king called them out of the furnace in Daniel 3:26-30.
God wants to show Himself strong in your life. Can you put your faith in Him to deliver you out of the fire that you are going through?
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