We all know the story well. King Nebuchadnezzar, ruler of Babylon, summoned every leader from his far-flung empire to gather together to honor false gods. The king erected a huge, golden image and the lavishly attired leaders — governors, princes, magistrates and officials of the provinces — along with all the people of the land were to conform to the king’s decree and bow before the image. And if they did not? An instant sentence of death.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, three exceptional young Hebrew men, had been taken captive and brought to the palace, trained in the language, and appointed as leaders in the government. When King Nebuchadnezzar commanded that everyone bow before his false god, these young men refused. Jealous leaders immediately reported them to the king who flew into a rage and had them brought before him. He thundered, “How dare any member of my own government stand against me in disobedience!”
In those days, violators of the king’s decrees were cast into a burning oven. The king ordered the furnace to be made seven times hotter than usual and challenged Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego again: “Who will deliver you from my hands?” They answered, “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.” (Daniel 3:17).
You can be sure these three young men could feel the heat of the white-hot furnace and I’m certain they didn’t want to die. But they had an incredible faith placed in their hearts by the Holy Spirit and they were stalwart, unbending. The king and the royal party watched as the men were bound and thrown into the furnace.
Imagine their amazement when they saw the men walking about on top of the coals — and a fourth Man in the fire! Their bonds fell off and they raised their hands, praising God! Jesus was with them in their crisis and they walked out of the fire as a testimony to all.