The text for this lesson is Daniel 3
- God rescued the three faithful young men from the fiery furnace. God rescues us from harm and helps us endure the troubles that He allows to come into our lives.
- Law: The devil and evil, which have come into the world because of sin, cause hardship and troubles in my life.
- Gospel: In a world ruined by sin, God keeps me from harm and helps me to endure the troubles that He allows to come into my life, for the sake of Jesus, my brother and Redeemer, who rescued me from sin, death, and the devil and promises to be with me always.
- Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were colleagues of Daniel. They were taken to Babylon as exiles from Israel and put into the service of King Nebuchadnezzar. They were educated in the language and ways of the people they served and advised the king in matters of state and policy. By the grace and direction of God, they excelled above their peers from other nations. This made their fellow advisers jealous. Before Daniel suffered under King Darius by being thrown into the lions’ den, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were persecuted by their peers who served King Nebuchadnezzar by being thrown into a furnace of fire.
King Nebuchadnezzar made a golden image and commanded representatives from every province of Babylon to gather for its dedication. Babylon was the mightiest nation at this time (ca. 600 BC). They conquered all the nations around them, including Israel. The conquered nations served different gods and had various religions. It appears that King Nebuchadnezzar was trying to unite the nations under one religion, or at least to impose a state religion above other religions. He had representatives from every province at the dedication of his golden image. When they all bowed in worship to his gods, they were expressing allegiance to the Babylonian empire in mind, body, and spirit.
Most religions at this time allowed for other gods to be given due honor. However, the Jewish nation was monotheistic and did not allow room for the worship of other gods (Exodus 20:3ff). When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego heard the call to bow down to the golden image, they refused to fall down and worship it. Every other nation fell down and worshiped due to the threat of death in the fiery furnace. They alone refused. Certain Chaldeans reported this to the king, and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were brought before Nebuchadnezzar. The king was furious. He commanded them to either fall down and worship his gods or be immediately cast into the furnace. He did not think any god could rescue them from that.
They answered him in a confession of faith. They said, “Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace and from you. But even if He chooses not to, we will never serve your gods.” After heating it seven times hotter than normal, the three men were thrown in. Yet they were not burned! The king was astonished and noticed that there were not just the three men he had thrown into the fire, but a fourth walking around with them. His observation was that the fourth person looked like a son of the gods.
It’s also possible that “His angel” (v. 28) refers to one of God’s heavenly angels, though “His angel” and “Angel of the Lord” in Scripture also often refer to a theophany (God appearing in human form). Whether it was the preincarnate Jesus or a heavenly angel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were protected from the fire. Their hair was not singed; their clothes did not burn or even smell like fire. The Lord had delivered them from the fire and the rage of the king. This divine intervention changed the king’s heart toward Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and toward the God they served. He made a decree that no one could speak against the God of the Jews.
God, the true God alone, delivers from evil. He rescues from every evil of body and soul. This does not mean that we won’t be persecuted or hurt by people who hate God. Thousands of Christians have suffered as martyrs, beginning with Stephen and continuing today. But any harm that comes to our body from persecution will not serve evil. It will serve to confess the true God who loves His people and brings them out of death into life eternal in Christ Jesus.