“If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” (Daniel 3:17-18)
Like the prophet Nathan, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego find themselves in a difficult situation that requires them to confront a powerful authority figure. Throughout history, God’s people have sometimes found it impossible to both serve God faithfully and still follow the strict regulations of sinful earthly authorities. In these cases, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego have the correct approach: honor God by respectfully confronting the authority with his wrongdoing, continue to steadfastly follow God’s Word, and humbly trust in Him as you accept whatever consequences may come.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego know full well that they are probably going to die for their rebellion against King Nebuchadnezzar. Their words, “even if he does not [save us from the furnace]” reveal tremendous faith in God’s grace. Even if they are to be executed for their refusal to worship idols, God has already saved them from death. They are willing to be thrown into a fiery furnace for the sake of their Lord, because He has saved them from the eternal fires of Hell – and nothing Nebuchadnezzar can do to them will ever change that.
These three faithful warriors of God bravely face their doom, walking in the light of God’s Word and trusting in Him to take care of the end results. Following this course always brings glory and honor to God, as we have seen time and again. For some heroes, like Josiah and Samson, physical death is still the means by which God’s name is honored and His love is demonstrated for the world – and they can then celebrate His goodness and mercy in His very presence. But for Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, God’s will is for their temporal salvation first, so that the King Nebuchadnezzar and all his subjects could see the power and majesty of the Lord.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were able to stand firmly against the king’s wicked proclamation because they put God’s will before their own fears and desires. In this selfless act, they point forward to an even greater Hero who would face down the combined evil of all human sin and wickedness, Jesus Christ the Son of God. Faced with the threat of shame, suffering, and death, our Lord trusted in the Father’s mercy and put His life into God’s hands, saying, “not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). Although death awaited Him, Jesus knew that the greatest triumph would come later, in His glorious resurrection. Because of this, we can also face even death boldly, trusting in this same Resurrection. God’s will is done when we faithfully and fearlessly serve Him, just as it will be done when we are raised to life again on the last day and are reunited with Him forever. Come what may, let us walk with God and glorify Him, even when His path leads into the fiery furnace.
“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… Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just.” (Daniel 3:28; 4:37)
Prayer: Lord God, our lives are always in Your hands. Guide and direct us in Your will, that we may please and honor You with each step of our journey. Let me always trust You alone and Your Word, seeking strength and courage through the death and resurrection of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.