The three young Hebrew boys were forcibly abducted from their homes in Judah and deported to Babylon, hundreds of miles away. They were chosen by their captors because they were “young men without any physical defect, good-looking, suitable for instruction in all wisdom, knowledgeable, perceptive, and capable of serving in the king’s palace.” They underwent a rigorous three-year training regiment including learning the Chaldean language and literature (Daniel 1:3–5). Faithful to their studies, God granted the “young men knowledge and understanding in every kind of literature and wisdom.” At the conclusion of their training, Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian king, found them to be the best of the best, “ten times better than all the magicians and mediums in his entire kingdom” (Daniel 1:17–20). This made their Babylonian contemporaries jealous, hoping for an opportunity to retaliate.
That’s about the time that Nebuchadnezzar’s statue was erected. It was made of gleaming gold, “ninety feet high and nine feet wide ... King Nebuchadnezzar sent word to assemble the satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates, and all the rulers of the provinces to attend the dedication of the statue King Nebuchadnezzar had set up... A herald 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 3:1–6).
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to bow in worship of a pagan’s statue so “some Chaldeans took this occasion to come forward and maliciously accuse the Jews” (Daniel 3:8). “In a furious rage Nebuchadnezzar gave orders to bring in Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego” (Daniel 3:13). The ultimatum was offered: bow in worship or die in the furnace!
After being sentenced to death, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied to the king, ‘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 3:16–18). “God is big enough to protect us, but even if we’re executed, we’ll remain true!”
The tyrant king gave orders for the three Jewish boys to be bound and tossed into the super-charged furnace. As the king peered into the flames, he expected to see them writhing in agony. What he saw boggled his brain. “Look! I see four men, not tied, walking around in the fire unharmed; and the fourth looks like a son of the gods” (Daniel 3:25). As they emerged, the onlookers “saw that 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 3:27).
The political climate in America is getting more and more anti-Christian and the immoral majority is becoming increasingly hostile to churches and Christians. On the bright side, none of your friends have been tortured or tossed into the execution chamber. So take heart! Jesus promised to remain with us (Matthew 28:20), to never “leave you or forsake you” (Joshua 1:5, ESV). When things really heat up, He’ll be in the furnace too!
All Scripture quotations, except as otherwise noted, are from
Holman Bible Publishers’ Christian Standard Bible.