When Jehoiakim was king of Judah, God allowed King Nebuchadnezzar to defeat the kingdom. After the defeat, Nebuchadnezzar commanded his chief eunuch to bring some members of the royal household and nobility to his kingdom. Nebuchadnezzar wanted young men who were healthy, handsome, and smart. He wanted these young men to learn the ways of his kingdom, so they would be worthy of standing in his royal court.
Among those chosen were three friends, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. The chief eunuch changed their names to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. By following God’s plan, the friends excelled above everyone else. Eventually, each would hold important positions within the kingdom.
One day, Nebuchadnezzar decided to build a huge image of gold and set it up where everyone could see it. When it was finished, Nebuchadnezzar scheduled a dedication ceremony, in which he called together all the officials in his land to stand before the idol. When all the musical instruments were played, everyone, no matter their nation or language, was expected to worship the gold idol immediately or be thrown into the fiery furnace. Among the officials were Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. When the music played, they did not bow because they served God.
When the Chaldeans noticed that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego did not bow, they told King Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar became very angry and called for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Nebuchadnezzar gave them another opportunity to bow when the music play. Yet they refused. They believed God would save them, and if He did not, they knew He had the ability to save them. In his anger, Nebuchadnezzar commanded his strongest soldiers to heat the furnace seven times hotter and throw the three friends into the furnace. They bounded fully-clothed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and took them to the furnace. However, the fire was so hot it killed the soldiers who were throwing in the friends.
When Nebuchadnezzar investigated the furnace, he saw four people walking around. He asked, “How many people did I have thrown in?” His advisors said, “Three.” Nebuchadnezzar said there is a fourth that looks like the son of the gods. Then, he called for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to come out of the furnace. When they stepped out, they had no burns anywhere. They didn’t even smell like they had been around a fire. Nebuchadnezzar responded, “Praise the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He sent his angel to save his servants who were willing to trust Him and would rather have died than serve any god except their own.”
Nebuchadnezzar sent out a decree that anyone who spoke against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego would die and their house destroyed. Nebuchadnezzar concluded that no god could rescue like the friends’ God. Then, Nebuchadnezzar gave the three friends a promotion in the Babylon province.
Source: Daniel 1 and 3
- What battles did Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego face?
- Why do you think the king’s chief eunuch changed the friends’ names to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego?
- Have you ever been in a situation where someone tried to relabel you? Why did they want to do it?
- King Nebuchadnezzar had conquered many different people who spoke different languages. Why do you think he wanted everyone to bow down to the same god?
- Why do you think the Chaldeans were so quick to tell Nebuchadnezzar about the friends not bowing? How would it benefit them?
- What was the real reason behind King Nebuchadnezzar’s anger with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego? Was it a good reason?
- If you were in Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s position, what would you have done? Why?
- Sometimes, in our anger, we hurt other people, like the soldiers being killed. Do you ever look back and think about the consequences you have caused when acting out in anger? What did you think?
- We know God sent his angel to save the friends. What would your reaction have been if you were in the crowd who saw what happened? How would it have made you different?
- Because they stood their ground and did what was right, God promoted the three friends. How has God promoted you when you have stood for Him and done the right thing?
- Now if you are ready when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, well and good. But if you do not worship, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?” Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” Daniel 3:15-18 ESV
- Nebuchadnezzar answered and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set aside the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God. Daniel 3:28 ESV
- Truth is the only answer necessary in the face of wrong.
- Sometimes, we don’t know God’s plan, but we must trust him no matter what we face.
- Your deliverance is not just for you. Your deliverance may be so others can recognize what you already know.
Father God, thank you for your delivering power. Thank you for strength. Thank you for finding us valuable enough to use us and our situations as a testament of Whom you are. We praise your holy name! Amen.
Has there ever been a situation in which you did not stand for what is right? What would you do differently?
We learned a lot from the story of Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, and the fiery furnace. What was the most important lesson to you, and how would you apply it to your own life?