Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were three young men thrown into a fiery furnace by Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, when they refused to bow down to the kings image, making the point that the living God will deliver those who are faithful to him.
King Nebuchadnezzar had set up, a golden image and commanded that all his ‘officials’ bow down before it. All who failed to do so would be thrown into a blazing furnace.
Certain Chaldean officials informed the king that the three youths Hanania, Mishael, and Azaria, who bore the Babylonian names Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and whom the king had appointed to ‘high office’ in Babylon, were refusing to worship the golden statue.
The three were brought before Nebuchadnezzar, who spoke to them asking if these accusations were true, that they did not serve his god’s nor worship the golden image which he had set up. The king then gave them another chance to bow with the promise that if they did not, that they would be cast into a burning, fiery furnace. He further boasted that there was absolutely no God who could deliver anybody from his hands. So he would give them one more chance to bow.
The threee boys answered the king with this: “King, we have no need to answer you in this matter ie…you do what you gotta do…and we will do what we gotta do (have no other “gods (or idols), before The living God). The God whom we serve, is able to deliver us from the burning furnace and…He will, but if not, (even if…), let it be known to you that we will not serve your god, nor will we worship the golden image which you have set up.” They informed the king that their God would be ‘with’ them.
Nebuchadnezzar, full of rage, commanded that they be thrown into the fiery furnace, and that it be heated seven times hotter than normal. But when the king looked in the fiery furnace, he saw four figures, and not three, walking unharmed in the flames.
Seeing this, Nebuchadnezzar was astonished, (seeing these men on whose bodies the fire had no power!) so much so that he brought the youths out of the flames, began acknowledging the God of the youths decreeing that no one was to speak anything amiss, against the God of Shadrach, Meshack and Abednego…and then promoted them again, to high office, decreeing that anyone who spoke against their God should be torn limb from limb!
LESSONS FROM THE FIERY FURNACE:
I. GOD’S PEOPLE ARE A PERSECUTED PEOPLE Why is there all this anger leveled at these men? Why is there resistance against you as a true worshipper and believer?
a). God’s people are persecuted because of our Standards!
Nebuchadnezzar had set up an image of his favorite god, or more likely that he has set up an image of himself. Either way, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused to bow to that image. Their faith in God would not allow them to stoop to the same level at the pagans around them. In other words, their standards and manner of life made them different from the others around them that day. (Note: The born again believer should have a different standard of living from the world around him.)
b). God’s people are persecuted because of our Savior
Nebuchadnezzar gives them a second chance to bow. He knows why these boys are refusing to bow, and he mocks the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. He implies that he, Nebuchadnezzar, is more powerful than the God they serve. He demands that they bow to his will instead of the will of God’s!
c). God’s people are persecuted because of our Stand/Stance
Even when threatened with a horrible death, these men refuse to bend or to bow. They take their stand in spite of the personal cost. (Note: The true believer should square his shoulders and take courage, even when threatened with a horrible death). These men refused to bend or to bow!!
Here is what we need to get a hold of today:
If you are going to live for Jesus in this world; if you are going to be His alone; if you are going to refuse to let this world squeeze you into its mold; then you are going to suffer persecution!!
There will be furnaces of criticism, furnaces of intimidation, furnaces of hatred, furnaces of temptation, furnaces of trials like you cannot imagine.
What we have to understand is that this world cannot understand the Believer! They cannot understand the way we live, the things we do, or the love we have for our God. Our lives bother them and they are convicted by the presence of God, in the life of a believer. Their natural reaction is to persecute the believer in an attempt to get us to behave like them!
II. GOD’S PEOPLE ARE A PRESERVED PEOPLE
The three Hebrews are cast into the fire, but an amazing thing happens. Instead of dying in the flames, they are loosed from their bonds and are walking around in the flames! Nebuchadnezzar cannot believe his eyes and commands them to come out, which they do, totally unharmed by the violence of the flames! They Were Free In The Fire!
a). All the fire did is burn away the things that had them bound. The Lord used the fire to loosen these men from the ropes that held them.
Note: When the fires of persecution and affliction come into your life, you need to remember this truth: The Lord is merely freeing you from some of the things that have had you bound in your life. As the flames burn away the ropes of besetting sins, bad attitudes, bad habits, etc, you will find that you are freer in the fire than you were outside the fire!
Often, persecution seems like the worse possible thing that can happen in our lives. But, it can prove to be the best thing we have ever experienced!
b). God’s people are preserved by an All-Powerful God!
When those boys came out of the furnace, they were inspected by Nebuchadnezzar and his men. We see that not a hair was singed, there was no soot on them and they didn’t even smell like smoke!
You can’t even walk into a convenience store where people smoke without getting the smell of cigarette smoke on your clothes. But, the power of God operated in this situation and overcame the furnace totally!
That’s just God! When He does something, He does it all the way. When He heals, He heals completely! When He saves, He saves completely! When He forgives, He forgives, He forgives completely. Whatever He does, He does it all the way! How? He is all powerful, and He is able to use that power in your life and mine!
So, when you find yourself looking at a fiery furnace, remember that you serve an all-powerful God, Who is able to keep you in the times of affliction and who is able to bring you through for His glory!
III. GOD’S PEOPLE ARE A PROMOTED PEOPLE
Going in, the three Hebrew boys did not know what God would do for them, but they trusted Him anyway. Nebuchadnezzar thought that he was more powerful than the God they served! But in the end, they all learned that God was greater than the king and greater then the furnace of fire!
a). God never really uses anyone in a great way until He first takes that person through the furnace of affliction. You cannot stand on Mt. Carmel in power until you bow by a dry brook in humility. You cannot lead the nation of Israel, until you first watch someone else’s sheep in a wilderness.
Conclusion of the matter:
If you are passing through a furnace time today, cling to the Lord. He is with you in what you face and He has a plan to bring you through what you face, and to use you for His glory. Still, you might need to come talk to Him about your personal furnace. Continue standing like these young boys! God always gives direction!
So stand and decree as we have to…”know this, oh King, fire or furnace…even if!