Words of Hope: Fiery Furnace

My youngest child Bella and I only have a few months left together before she launches off to college and a brand-new life. We do a devotional together each day. One day I bring the topic, the other day she brings it. I selected Daniel 3 and the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. When Dad was a baby Christian he went to a party and one of the games had these three names. Dad loudly told everyone nearby what stupid names these were, “These are the craziest names I’ve ever heard, where did anyone come up with names like these?” To which a large man without a hint of humor gravely leaned forward and answered, “The Bible.” 

I have always loved the story of these three refusing to bow to the idol of gold. I consider the bravery each man needed to enter the fiery furnace. How often does the whole world bow to the current idols of gold?  

What stood out to me in this latest reading with Bella is the change of command. King Nebuchadnezzar commanded everyone to bow to the idol of gold. However, after witnessing the miracle in the fiery furnace, he made a new command. He did not command everyone in the land to worship the God of these men. Instead, he commanded no one to speak badly of the God of these three. This is so interesting! I consider how God in His holiness does not desire forced or coerced worship. How many through the ages have wanted to demand their nation to worship God? What a slippery slope. I consider the abuse created from cultural pressure to worship Christianity to fit in or avoid public scrutiny. How beautiful the freedom of worship is. What a hallowed true reverence for God. Everything else becomes burned up in the heat of the world’s ambition. These men in their humility were not consumed by the fire. I consider what I am bowing down to in my life that is an idol. I also consider what I am urging people within my sphere of authority to bow to. I consider the humility of these three men and their certainty that God is sovereign. They relinquish the demand that God save their lives. Instead, they obediently and humbly do God’s will even knowing they will be cast into a fiery furnace. 

“So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire, and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them. 

Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way.” 

– Daniel 3:26-29