Background: Daniel 3
Key Verse: Then Nebuchadnezzar was filled with fury, and the expression of his face was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He ordered the furnace heated seven times more than it was usually heated. And he ordered some of the mighty men of his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace. Daniel 3:19-20 ESV
Imagine being placed in an unfamiliar place far from what you know, forced to learn a new culture, language, and customs. Despite the circumstances, you thrive, and later, you are elevated. Now, imagine being told how to worship. What would you do? This is the story of Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, and the fiery furnace.
Nebuchadnezzar, King of the Babylonians, sieged the city of Jerusalem and captured several members of the royal and noble families. Among those taken captives were three young men, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. They were smart, wise, and handsome. The scriptures say,
Then the king commanded Ashpenaz, his chief eunuch, to bring some
of the people of Israel, both of the royal family and of the nobility, youths
without blemish, of good appearance and skillful in all wisdom, endowed
with knowledge, understanding learning, and competent to stand in the king’s
palace, and to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans.
Daniel 1:3-4 ESV
When they arrived in the Babylonian kingdom, the chief eunuch changed their names to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Despite what they face, they excelled. When their friend Daniel secured a place in the king’s court, he made a special request. Afterward, King Nebuchadnezzar appointed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego over the affairs of the Babylonian province.
Later, King Nebuchadnezzar built a large statue of gold. After its completion, he called for the leadership of the kingdom to join him in celebration. When the music played, he commanded all to bow down to the statue. For those who would not bow, the king ordered their death by the fiery furnace. When the music played, all those who were present bowed. Not among them were Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Certain Chaldeans reported to the king that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had ignored him and did not serve the king’s gods or worship the golden image. Furious, King Nebuchadnezzar ordered that they bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego before him.
The king gave them an opportunity to demonstrate their obedience to his command. He questioned what god could deliver them from the fiery furnace. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused. They believed God could deliver them, but they were willing to accept whatever God allowed as well. Nebuchadnezzar was furious. He ordered his men to heat the furnace fire seven times hotter than usual, bound Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego bound, and throw them into the furnace. The king’s men did as he commanded. However, the fire was so hot, it killed the men who took Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to the fire. While the king’s men died, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego fell bound into the furnace.
When the king peer inside the furnace, he saw four people walking around in the fire. He questioned, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire? See Daniel 3:24 ESV. After receiving affirmation, the king called for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to come out of the furnace. When they came out of the furnace, they were not singed, burned, nor smelled of fire. Nebuchadnezzar acknowledged their faithfulness to God and ordered that anyone who dare spoke against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s God would face destruction. Then, he promoted them.
- Have you ever felt as if someone around you did not want you to serve God? How did you feel? How did you react?
- What are some obvious ways people can ask you to serve other gods? How do you feel about this? How do you react?
- What are some subtle ways people can ask you to serve other gods, without specifically asking you to bow down to other gods? How do you feel about this? How do you react?
- If you don’t comply when people want you to do wrong, how may they react? Why?
- When certain Chaldeans saw that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego did not comply, what did they do? Why do you think they did this?
- Did those Chaldeans tell the truth to the king about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego? Why or why not?
- Why was King Nebuchadnezzar furious by Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s behavior? What made him so angry?
- Although Nebuchadnezzar gave Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego an opportunity to bow, they stood their ground to serve God. They did the right thing and still faced hardship. Are there times we will still face hardship though we do the right thing? Give an example.
- How important is it to have friends who can stand with you and do what is right? Can you share an example?
- Why were Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego protected in the fire, but the king’s men were not protected outside the fire? Can you share an example of how you have seen this occur in life?
- When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out of the furnace, they were not singed, burned, nor smelled of fire. What revelation do you think you can take from this situation?
- After acknowledging that no god could do what Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s God could do, Nebuchadnezzar elevated them to higher positions. What revelation can you take from this situation?
What does the bible say about serving God?
- You shall have no other gods before me. Exodus 20:3 ESV
- Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. Colossians 3:23-24 ESV
- No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. Matthew 6:24 ESV
- People may put a new label on you, but it should not change who you are for God.
- We will face hardships but knowing how you already stand against wrong actions will help you through them.
- Serving God does not eliminate us from facing challenging times. The difference is that we know that God is a deliverer.
- Having friends who are willing to stand with you and do the right thing can make the difficult journey more bearable.
- While others may encourage you to do wrong to receive elevation or keep an elevated position, you serve God, and he will elevate you where you will not fall.