From a safe distance, the King saw the doors of the furnace open and blue flames roar toward the sky. It burned the flesh of the guards at the men's sides. With hasty shoves, the three men were sent flailing into the licking flames and the fire engulfed those who remained above.
Only a few hours earlier, the king was alerted by his faithful officials of traitors in the kingdom. These men he had taken captive after defeating them, and in spite of it had proven themselves faithful and wise, earning positions of authority. But with this news of their refusal to worship as he commanded his heart burned in anger.
He had the men brought before him, and just to show how generous he was, gave them one last chance to change their minds. Surprisingly, the men continued in their rebellion, defying his very command. In utter disgust, the king mocked them saying, "Who is the god who will deliver you from my hands?"
With a strange calmness and strength, the Jewish men said, "[O]ur God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king."
With rage burning within him, the king ordered their execution immediately, that the fires of the furnace be heated seven times hotter and the men tied up like bundles.
Now the king watched as his own men were burned up by the angry fire he had commanded. But as he looked into the furnace to watch the death of the traitors that would justify the death of his men, he saw instead four men rather than three, moving around freely.
His rage dissipated as he witnessed this unbelievable event he knew could only be supernatural. He called loudly for the men to come out of the furnace and rushed forward with his officials to inspect the victims. Not even a hair was singed!
The king said then, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, who sent His Angel and delivered His servants who trusted in Him."
For the God with the power to create the very molecules of our world, protecting a living being from burning flames is an easy thing.
Should we really be surprised? And yet we are. Each time I read this passage in the book of Daniel where King Nebuchadnezzar sends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego into the superheated furnace, I am awed.
These three Jewish men suffered the threat of death for what they believed in and God saved them in a way no one would have expected. This was a testimony that would never be forgotten and one that showed the pagan nation who the God of the Jews really was.
In contrast, some decades later God Himself gave an even greater testimony in allowing the death of his Son. He could have saved Him as easy as he saved Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. In fact, Jesus had the power to save Himself.
But as the Jewish priest Caiaphas said, little knowing how prophetic he was being, "[I]t is expedient for us that one should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish." *
This is a lesson in trusting that God knows what is best for us. All we are to do is trust Him and not waver in our faith, He will do the rest.
Could I be as confident in my God as these three men in the face of death? Could you?
Passage expounded upon from Daniel 3
*John 11:50 NKJV