Scripture Reference:Daniel 3
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego - Story Summary:
About 600 years before Jesus Christ was born, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon besieged Jerusalem and took captive many of Israel's finest citizens. Among those deported to Babylon were four young men from the tribe of Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.
In captivity the youths were given new names. Daniel was called Belteshazzar, Hananiah was called Shadrach, Mishael was called Meshach, and Azariah was called Abednego.
These four Hebrews excelled in wisdom and knowledge and found favor in King Nebuchadnezzar's eyes. The king put them into service among his most trusted wise men and counselors. When Daniel proved to be the only man capable of interpreting one of Nebuchadnezzar's troubling dreams, the king placed him in a high position over the whole province of Babylon, including all of the wise men of the land. And at Daniel's request, the king appointed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego as administrators under Daniel.
As was common at the time, King Nebuchadnezzar built a huge golden image and commanded all the people to fall down and worship it whenever they heard the sound of his musical herald. Anyone who failed to bow and worship the image would be thrown into an immense, blazing furnace.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were determined to worship the One true God only, and thus were reported to the king. Courageously they stood before him as the king pressured the men to deny their God. They said, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up." (Daniel 3:16-18, ESV)
Furious with pride and rage, Nebuchadnezzar ordered the furnace to be heated seven times hotter than normal. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were bound and cast into the flames. The fiery blast was so hot it killed the soldiers who had escorted them.
But as King Nebuchadnezzar peered into the furnace, he marveled at what he saw: "But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods." (Daniel 3:25, ESV)
Then the king called the men to come out of the furnace. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego emerged unharmed, with not even a hair on their heads singed or the smell of smoke on their clothing.
Needless to say, this made quite an impression on Nebuchadnezzar who declared, "Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set aside the king's command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God." (Daniel 3:28, ESV)
Through God's miraculous deliverance of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego that day, the rest of the Israelites in captivity were given freedom to worship and protection from harm by the king's decree. And Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego received a royal promotion.
Points of Interest from Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego:
- The fiery furnace was not a small household oven. It was a huge chamber used to smelt minerals or bake bricks for construction. The death of the soldiers who escorted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego proved that the heat of the fire was not survivable.
- Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were young men when their faith was severely tested. Yet, even threatened with death, they would not compromise their beliefs.
- Who was the fourth man Nebuchadnezzar saw in the flames? Whether he was an angel or a manifestation of Christ, we cannot be certain, but that his appearance was miraculous and supernatural, we can have no doubt. God had provided a heavenly bodyguard to be with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego during their intense time of need.
- God's miraculous intervention in a moment of crisis is not promised. If it were, believers would not need to exercise faith. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego trusted God and determined to be faithful without any guarantee of deliverance.