Three young men, at their prime, who of no fault of theirs, were pulled to slavery in a foreign land. They did not complain, but sought instead to be the best that they could be and make the most of the undesirable situation they found themselves in. In spite of these odds, they excelled academically and professionally. Their visibility rose within the Kingdom as a result. The King noticed and promoted them to serve him directly. In your own life, you’ve already experienced that with promotion comes jealousy right?.
Some people plotted to take the boys down. Not surprising! Fairly typical! They noticed that the boys only worshiped their God. They would serve the King during the day and then spend their evenings worshiping God. Their devotion to God was so fierce, it felt as though they juggling 2 jobs. So these “Hamans” decided to use this against them. They approached the King and urged him to make a decree that whomever does not worship an image built in his likeness, would be thrown into the fire.
The boys were steadfast and continued worshiping their God even after the decree. They were caught and brought before the King. The King realized his folly immediately. He realized he had been played. But he had made the decree and couldn’t readily take it back. I imagine he tried to cut a deal with the boys’ right there and then. “Just bow before my stature this once”, he said, “and I will allow you lads go home”. Perhaps I would also modify my decree”. But the boys were steadfast, speaking with wisdom far beyond their years: “We believe that our God is more than able to save us from your fire, but even if He does not, we will not bow before you oh King Nebuchadnezzar”. The King was irate, turning red at the cheek and burning with wrath, he demanded that the boys be thrown into the fire immediately.
I read somewhere that back in the antebellum south, lynching’s were publicly announced and a formidable crowd assembled to watch and cheer a human, being murdered by hanging. I imagine it was the same with Shedrach, Meshach and Abednego. .The whole town came out to watch this spectacle. People were happily walking to the fire thinking, is this really going down? I imagine, as they were led to the fire that the moms were crying out to them. “Please boys, just this once, bow to the King’s statue so that you may live”. The boys moved forward still. They were thinking: “What is God doing now? Surely God is aware of our ordeal, He is watching and He will act”. King Nebuchadnezzar, with a front row seat to this defiance, commanded that the fire be heated 7 times more.
The guard to their right fell down dead as they got closer to the furnace, roasted by the heat. So did the guard to the left a few seconds later, he too fell down and died, perhaps from dehydration. For the Bible states that those that threw them into the fire died because of the fierceness of the heat and the urgency of the King’s command.
Something uniquely miraculous started happening. As they got closer to the fire, the cooler the fire became. It was like moving into an air-conditioned room, away from the high humidity outside. They got into the fire and it was, well, refreshing. In the fire, they met Jesus. Oh how they rejoiced. In all their lives, they had heard of Jesus and read about Him. They had stood for Him. But had never met Him in person. In living, they never met Jesus but now in dying, here He stood in all His glory.
Isn’t that amazing? Think on that for a second will you? Realize that when they put you out, there Jesus will find you? Isn’t it great that He meets you in the fire? In the worst of circumstances? That He is there when you feel ostracized from the world or when false accusations have been levied your way? Oh, glory Hallelujah. Oh, how the lads rejoiced and danced in the cool of the fire.
After a while, they began to notice that the fire was receding. The King had ordered it extinguished because he saw 4 people inside the fire and the 4th person, he thought, looked like the son of God. I imagine the 3 lads thought to themselves: “why is it that when you are beginning to enjoy, to have a good time, the enemy will call off the feast”? This thought applies to you as well. When you start enjoying the “Fire” per se, the enemy is left with no choice but to call off the tribulation in defeat. The moral here is to be present, to keep your joy even in the fire.
So out they went and into the presence of the King again. This time, they did not meet with an angry King, but with an astonished King. The King promoted them instantly, and declared that only their God should be served in the land. Now do you see clearly, what God was doing all along? He was working to promote these lads into powerful positions of influence. He was working to establish His preeminence over the land of the Babylonians. And the way He chose to do that, was through the fire. It was through betrayal, jealousy and hypocrisy.
Through the public debacle. Throughout the hurt and pain that the lads faced, they knew God was working something. Though they couldn’t see the full picture at the time, they trusted that God will never leave nor forsake them. And boy, were they right. God was at work as He usually is. Even in rest, He is knowing. He never sleeps nor slumbers. He never tires of hearing your prayer. He is at work for you right now. I don’t know the hardship you’ve faced recently, but I want to unequivocally state that God is doing something, and it is for your good. All things are working together for your good because you love God and are called according to His purpose.
If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king – Daniel 3:17