DANIEL CHAPTER 3: THE SHINING STATUE OR THE FIERY FURNACE
“What convictions do you have that you cannot compromise?”
“What convictions about God are you willing to die for?”
I sat with these questions earlier today and they truly were difficult ones. A few options came to my mind immediately: “Jesus is the only way to God”. “Heaven is real and hell is real”. “The rapture of the saints will happen, it’s no myth”. And many other controversies I am not willing to share. Surely a lot has changed through the years, and as the world become more permissive and rightfully more inclusive, many of our convictions as believers have been sacrificed on the altar of compromise. Or may I say, they are viewpoints which are no longer acceptable in the modern world.
“There is nothing worth dying for”, we hear that all the time. And “what kind of people will be willing to die for their faiths anyway?” The willingness to give your life for your convictions have been strongly linked to bigotry and religious extremism. And for good reasons because in recent times we have seen a lot of religious extremists giving their lives for their faiths and hurting other people in the process.
But this situation is different. The story of Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah (or Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego as we now know them) is one of courage under fire. It is one of commitment to what you stand for and not willing to shift your stance because the circumstances suddenly became unconducive. Here we see three young men, (say in their twenties) who would not be bullied to bow for some ginormous shiny objects. They would rather defy the laws of the land so they could practice their faith, and even die if their God would not save them. And were not willing to reconsider their position.
That takes a lot of guts, especially when you are dealing with a paranoid individual like king Neb.
Below is Daniel Chapter 3, and the different sub-titles I gave it. Read and be encouraged.
“If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them”- Jesus
THE STATUE DEDICATION
Dan 3:1 King Nebuchadnezzar made a gold statue – ninety feet tall and nine feet wide and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon.
Dan 3:2 Then he sent messages to the princes, prefects, governors, advisers, counsellors, judges, magistrates, and all the provincial officials to come to the dedication of the statue he had set up.
TOP OFFICIALS ASSEMBLED
Dan 3:3 When all these officials had arrived and were standing before the image King Nebuchadnezzar had set up,
Dan 3:4 a herald shouted out, “People of all races and nations and languages, listen to the king’s command!
Dan 3:5 When you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes, and other instruments, bow to the ground to worship King Nebuchadnezzar’s gold statue.
Dan 3:6 Anyone who refuses to obey will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.”
Dan 3:7 So at the sound of the musical instruments, all the people, whatever their race or nation or language, bowed to the ground and worshiped the statue that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.
THE WHISTLE BLOWERS
Dan 3:8 But some of the astrologers went to the king and informed on the Jews.
Dan 3:9 They said to King Nebuchadnezzar, “Long live the king!
Dan 3:10 You issued a decree requiring all the people to bow down and worship the gold statue when they hear the sound of the musical instruments.
Dan 3:11 That decree also states that those who refuse to obey must be thrown into a blazing furnace.
Dan 3:12 But there are some Jews– Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego– whom you have put in charge of the province of Babylon. They have defied Your Majesty by refusing to serve your gods or to worship the gold statue you have set up.”
THE KING’S REACTION
Dan 3:13 Then Nebuchadnezzar flew into a rage and ordered Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to be brought before him. When they were brought in,
Dan 3:14 Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you refuse to serve my gods or to worship the gold statue I have set up?
BENEFIT OF DOUBT
Dan 3:15 I will give you one more chance. If you bow down and worship the statue I have made when you hear the sound of the musical instruments, all will be well. But if you refuse, you will be thrown immediately into the blazing furnace. What god will be able to rescue you from my power then?”
THANKS BOT NO THANKS
Dan 3:16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you.
Dan 3:17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty.
Dan 3:18 But even if he doesn’t, Your Majesty can be sure that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.”
FITS OF RAGE
Dan 3:19 Nebuchadnezzar was so furious with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego that his face became distorted with rage. He commanded that the furnace be heated seven times hotter than usual.
Dan 3:20 Then he ordered some of the strongest men of his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace.
Dan 3:21 So they tied them up and threw them into the furnace, fully clothed.
THE FATALITY: BURNS INJURY
Dan 3:22 And because the king, in his anger, had demanded such a hot fire in the furnace, the flames leaped out and killed the soldiers as they threw the three men in!
Dan 3:23 So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, securely tied, fell down into the roaring flames.
Dan 3:24 But suddenly, as he was watching, Nebuchadnezzar jumped up in amazement and exclaimed to his advisers, “Didn’t we tie up three men and throw them into the furnace?” “Yes,” they said, “we did indeed, Your Majesty.”
Dan 3:25 “Look!” Nebuchadnezzar shouted. “I see four men, unbound, walking around in the fire. They aren’t even hurt by the flames! And the fourth looks like a divine being!”
Dan 3:26 Then Nebuchadnezzar came as close as he could to the door of the flaming furnace and shouted: “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!” So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego stepped out of the fire.
THE FORCE FIELD
Dan 3:27 Then the princes, prefects, governors, and advisers crowded around them and saw that the fire had not touched them. Not a hair on their heads was singed, and their clothing was not scorched. They didn’t even smell of smoke!
THE NEW WORSHIP
Dan 3:28 Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise to the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego! He sent his angel to rescue his servants who trusted in him. They defied the king’s command and were willing to die rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.
FREEDOM OF WORSHIP
Dan 3:29 Therefore, I make this decree: If any people, whatever their race or nation or language, speak a word against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, they will be torn limb from limb, and their houses will be crushed into heaps of rubble. There is no other god who can rescue like this!”
Dan 3:30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to even higher positions in the province of Babylon.