King Nebuchadnezzar had a god complex. He commissioned a 90 foot golden statue of himself, and decided that everyone in the kingdom should worship the statue. He instructed that upon hearing a certain musical ensemble, all should immediately bow down and worship his image under penalty of death. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego had been captured and brought to Babylon when Jerusalem was overthrown. This decree took place early in their captivity. These young men, probably in their teens, were devout Jews and were determined to remain obedient to their God, the one true God. When they refused to bow down, they were brought before the king. For some reason, he offered them a second chance to worship the statue; otherwise, they would be thrown into a blazing furnace to die. However, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego stood firm and refused to worship the statue. They told King Nebuchadnezzar that their God was able to deliver them from the furnace and that he would certainly deliver them out of his hands. This news didn’t set well, and the boys were immediately bound and thrown into the furnace which was amped up seven times hotter than usual (indicating the king’s fury). Although the soldiers who tossed them into the furnace were immediately consumed by the intense heat, the three captives could be seen walking around in the furnace along with a fourth person who appeared to be a god. The king called for them to come out, and found them to be unharmed without even the smell of smoke on their clothing.

Da 3:5-6, 15-18, 24-28; Jn 16:33; Ep 3:20; 1 Pe 1:7

I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In the world you have trouble and suffering, but take courage—I have conquered the world.” (Jn 16:33) These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when you faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. (1 Pe 1:7) “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.” (Da 3:17-18)

Life is full of trouble and suffering, but God is able to deliver us even in the flames of adversity and trouble. When the king called for everyone to worship his image, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego didn’t need to think about it; their first allegiance was to God, not to people. Bowing down to an idol was not something to consider. When God is your highest priority, a lot of decisions are clear! They stood firm in the face of death. Believing God when his presence isn’t evident is difficult, but no matter what you see, He is with you. His will may take a path that is different than what you are praying will happen, but stand firm. You are responsible for being fully obedient, and then the outcome is up to God. He is working for our good. When we walk through the fire our faith is revealed, it is purified; all of the pretense, empty words and doubt are burned away and only true faith remains. In those times, we experience the presence of God in a way that is more real and personal than we’ve ever known. Just as God was in the furnace with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, he will be in the fire with you. The fire can bring good and God has your best interest in mind. Stand firm and be obedient.

Are you in a fire? Can you share about it? What fires have you walked through? How has God revealed himself to you in those times? Are you closer to God in the good times or in the bad times? How has difficulty refined the faith of someone you know? When has difficulty revealed someone’s lack of faith/consumed them? What causes one person to become stronger and another person to perish in the fire?

Gracious God, I know you are able to answer my prayers, to meet my needs. Help me to pray in your will and to trust that however you respond, it is part of your plan for good, no matter what I may see in the natural world. Give me strength to stand firm in the fire and keep me close to you. In Jesus’ holy name, I pray, amen.