In 586 BC the Babylonians overthrew Jerusalem and Judea, taking many Israelites into captivity. Among the captives were three Hebrew boys named “Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah” (Daniel 1:6, CSB). To humiliate and humble them, their captors gave them new Babylonian names: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (Daniel 1:7).
The Babylonian King, “Nebuchadnezzar made a gold statue, ninety feet high and nine feet wide. He set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon” (Daniel 3:1, CSB).
At the ceremonial dedication of the monument, it was “loudly proclaimed, ‘People of every nation and language, you are commanded: When you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, drum, and every kind of music, you are to fall facedown and worship the gold statue that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. But whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a furnace of blazing fire’ ” (Daniel 3:4-6, CSB).
When the three Hebrews refused to obey, Nebuchadnezzar flew into a “furious rage” and gave orders to arrest the disobedient slaves (Daniel 3:13). “Nebuchadnezzar asked them, “Is it true that you don’t serve my gods or worship the gold statue I have set up? Now if you’re ready, when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, drum, and every kind of music, fall down and worship the statue I made. But if you don’t worship it, you will immediately be thrown into a furnace of blazing fire” (Daniel 3:13, CSB).
The three faith-filled young men replied, “If the God we serve exists, then he can rescue us from the furnace of blazing fire, and he can rescue us from the power of you, the king. But even if he does not rescue us, we want you as king to know that we will not serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up” (Daniel 3:17-18, CSB).
Wow! Our God is able to save us, but even if He chooses not to, we will never serve your dead God! That’s courageous and faithful!
And that ticked off the old king!
So the king “gave orders to heat the furnace seven times more than was customary, and he commanded some of the best soldiers” to tie them up “and throw them into the furnace of blazing fire.” Indeed, it was so hot that it killed the Babylonian soldiers who cast the Hebrews into the death chamber (Daniel 3:19-22, CSB).
Watching in utter amazement, “King Nebuchadnezzar jumped up in alarm. He said to his advisers, ‘Didn’t we throw three men, bound, into the fire? ‘Yes, of course, Your Majesty,’ they replied to the king. He exclaimed, ‘Look! I see four men, not tied, walking around in the fire unharmed; and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.’ Nebuchadnezzar then approached the door of the furnace of blazing fire and called, ‘Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, you servants of the Most High God — come out!’ So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out of the fire... the fire had no effect on the bodies of these men: not a hair of their heads was singed, their robes were unaffected, and there was no smell of fire on them” (Daniel 3:24-27, CSB).
Who was the fourth man?
King Nebuchadnezzar thought that he looked “like a son of the gods” (Daniel 3:25). I wholeheartedly believe that the rescuer was the One and Only, Son of God... the pre-incarnate Jesus!
South Georgia Baptist Church
Mike Martin, Pastor