Great Balls of Fire!

There are many narratives told throughout the Bible that are impossible to let go of.  From the beginning of the Bible to the end, many jump out as tall tales, fascinating adventures, or love stories.

–         Noah’s Ark and the Flood
–         The Captivity and Exile of the Israelites
–         The Walls of Jericho
–         The Herculean Samson
–         David and Goliath
–         Jonah and the Big Fish

Aside from the description and accounts of the Life and Death of Jesus, no other story sticks out in my head like the one of Shadrach Meshach, and Abednego.

I believe the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego is so powerful, that I believe you could pull this one story out of the Bible and encapsulate every aspect of who God is, and every aspect of who we as Christians should be in our service to Him.

In a nutshell, King Nebuchadnezzar builds a giant statue and tells everyone that when the band plays, everyone of any race, creed, or color must bow down and worship the image.  If  you did not bow, you would be thrown into a fiery furnace to be destroyed.  Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, 3 Jewish men who were in Babylon due to the captivity of Israel, refuse.  These men have already been mentioned in the first chapter under different names, but they were promoted and honored in the land to positions of authority.

Nebuchadnezzar brings them in and asks them to bow down when the band plays.  He reveals his true egotistical self in the statement: “What god will be able to rescue you from my hand”.  Here, Nebuchadnezzar asserts his own power above all gods.   Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego give an answer at this point that reminds of the devotion that one would expect find in a great love story: “We don’t need to defend ourselves before you in this matter”, OR – Your threats mean nothing to us.

They then go on to show their true faith in their God.  They talk of if you throw us into the fire, the God we serve can rescue us from it, or anything else you throw at us.  BUT IF NOT, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference, O King.  We still wouldn’t serve your gods or worship  your statue.  This obviously makes the King mad, and he orders the furnaces 7 times hotter, and the men thrown in to the blaze.  They were bound, wearing all of their clothing, and thrown in.  The men who threw them in were killed from the intensity of the heat.

The King looks up at the furnace and notices they are walking around, unbound, and there is a 4th person in the fire with them.  He recognizes this person as a son of the gods, later to recognize the person as God.

Here are 5 points I was able to pull from the story to apply to us today.

  1. The Love story here is reciprocal :  They love their God so much, they’re not willing to betray Him, and He loves his servants so much, he would never betray them
  2. There is power in companionship. Surround yourself with good friends.  Could they have done this alone?  The three men believed that God could save them from anything, but their loyalty was NOT contingent on their rescue.    This loyalty had to be easier to have when the loyalty comes with the companionship.  Surround yourself with believers, so you won’t be tempted to abandon God from time to time.
  3. We can’t let an emotional response to God rule our faith. Nebuchadnezzar had several “mountain of God” experiences, in previous chapters, but these emotional outbursts of his allegiance to the God of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were seemingly short lived.  Emotion is not a bad thing, and an emotional response to God is not a bad thing.  However, we can’t base our entire faith on the emotional responses to God.  It has to be rooted, like the Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
  4. God saved the three men IN THE FIRE, not FROM THE FIRE. God could have extinguished the flames, but he did not.  This is interesting to note that God saves us the same way today.  He saves us IN the world, not FROM the world.
  5. God continues to confirm His promise to us as He did for Israel. This was an encouragement for Daniel’s Day.  Remember things are bad.  They’ve been in captivity, their land was devastated, their people were scattered, and the situation looked hopeless.  What an encouragement this could be in giving hope to the hopeless.  This story becomes a strong message to the people.   Jehovah is still on the throne.  God hasn’t forsaken us. He will one day fulfill His promises to His people

Interesting to note that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s names were originally something else: Hananiah is a Hebrew name that means “Yahweh who is gracious”. Misha’el means “Who is like Yahweh?” and it also means “to feed” or “to provide” as in how a husband provides for his family. The Hebrew name Azariah appropriately means “Yahweh has helped”.  God certainly did all of those things for these men in this challenging time.

One comment on “Great Balls of Fire!

  1. Great stuff. I especially like point #4. You could actually make an entire lesson (or series of lessons) around that point alone. SM&A experienced salvation in the present, which is so very biblical. Salvation is as much a process as it is a one-time event.

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