Suggested Reading: Daniel 3
So far in our study through Daniel we have read about 15 year old Daniel being taken 900 miles from home to be reprogrammed as a Babylonian servant of the King. Daniel, however, is not intimidated by the demands of the King and remains faithful. In chapter two he demonstrates God’s miraculous presence in his life by telling the King both the contents and interpretation of his dream. He’s got an amazing courageous faith, but he is not alone. His three friends have their own fiery trial in chapter three.
We do not know how long a time elapsed between Daniel 2:49 and 3:1. Long enough that that Daniel’s three friends become known as men of faith in Jehovah God. They have such wisdom and ability that they stir the jealousy of the astrologers and wise men who perhaps have been in Babylon all along. They occupy high offices in the kingdom, but that only sets them up for a conspicuous disobedience to Nebuchadnezzar.
See, King Nebuchadnezzar decided to do what most polytheistic, narcissistic, mentally unstable kings do. He built a 90 foot statue of himself and ordered everyone in the kingdom to bow down and worship it. The crowds gathered from the giant kingdom … the music played … everyone bowed down. So it was quite obvious when three God-fearing young men refused.
The astrologers saw this as their chance to get rid of Shadrach, Meschack, and Abednego. They reported the Hebrews to the King. The king became unhinged and gave them one more chance to worship the idol. When they refused to bow he had the furnace heated up seven times hotter. They were bound and thrown into the furnace. It was so hot that the soldiers that threw them into the furnace were killed in the process. Nebuchadnezzar sat back to admire his own handiwork and saw not three but four figures in the fire.
“Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.” ~Daniel 3:25
He called them out and they were unharmed – reminding Nebuchadnezzar to give praise to their God. He decreed that anyone who spoke ill of their God would be cut to pieces (apparently his go-to method of execution). He promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to even higher stature in the kingdom.
These three amazing young men had a faith that as stronger than the threat of the furnace … Incombustible!
Incombustible in the Face of a Furnace Threat (3:8-15). What is Your Furnace? So many of us are facing a threatening furnace in life. Illness, Financial Troubles, Family problems, Discouragement, Addiction, Moral problems. Sometimes we are facing the furnace of idolatry. Tillich said that a person’s god is the thing or person that one is most concerned about, thinks the most about, or affects one’s life the most. Furnace threats can rob us of faith, peace of mind, and courage. Will we face these threats with faith?
Incombustible in the Face of Furnace Temptation (3:16-18). They were given opportunity to escape the furnace. No doubt it was an intense decision – they could have rationalized their way out of the furnace. They could have thought things like…
It would be ok if we did it just this once…
We don’t want to offend their culture, so we should bow….
We will bow on the outside, but not inside.
How often are we excusing the sins in our own life when we are in the furnace of
temptation? They chose to stick with God’s will. (Exodus 20:4,5a ). I have no doubt they were informed by God’s Word, and influenced by Daniel’s example. Remember that their faith in God was certain.
Pay attention to this: their faith in the outcome was not certain (3:16-18). They weighed the consequences of refusing to obey the king. Not intimidated by powerful people or expectations of others (3:19). Not willing to give up faith in God when threatened (3:20-23). They were willing to face death to keep their convictions (a horrible death). Have we counted the cost of following Jesus in our own lives? Are we easily veered away from our commitment?
The Furnace Triumph (Daniel 3:19-30). God was in the Furnace (3:24-25). God did not keep them from the furnace. God did keep them from harm in the furnace. God saved them in the furnace. God is always with us even when He does not bring miraculous deliverance. (See Psalm 23:4 , 2 Timothy 4:17). They experienced triumph (3:26-30). Three young men were unharmed (3:26-27). Nebuchadnezzar was moved to praise God (3:28-29). The youth were promoted (3:30). The triumph not just that they were unharmed, but that their faith remained strong.
This story is not to say that if you do the right things God will keep harm from coming to you. This story is to demonstrate that strong faith does not abandon God in the toughest of moments. Strong faith finds its strength in God, not in self. When faced with overwhelming odds, stick with God!
Daniel’s three friends had an incombustible faith. Now that Nebuchadnezzar has once again been reminded of the power of Jehovah God. We have one more chapter with Nebuchadnezzar, and this time we get to hear from him in person.
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