Wednesday, 7 November 2007
The Blazing Furnace
The people in the crowd looked down on the men as they were marched away to what appeared certain death. Many were pleased that these foreigners were being punished. They did not like it that these Jewish boys had risen so high in power - now they would get their comeuppance.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego had been brought to Babylon with many others from Israel. They were selected and trained to enter the king’s service. These three had done well and has risen quickly in authority.
In time the Babylonian king raised up a statue to himself and ordered the people to fall down and worship it, on pain of death. Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego refused, they worshiped the only true God. As a result they were marched off to the burning furnace. The king had order that the furnace be heated seven times hotter than normal and as a result the guards were burnt up as they threw the three in.
As they fell into the furnace their fate seemed sure. This was the end of the boys from Israel – or so the thought. The king jumped up and shouted, “Look I see four men loosed and walking about in the midst of the fire without harm, and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods!” Daniel 3:25. The king called Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego out of the furnace and there was not even the smell of burning on them. It was clear that a remarkable miracle had occurred.
The king must have been reminded of what the three had said before they were marched away to the furnace. “If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hands O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up” Daniel 3:17-18. The great king was so moved that he recognised God and forbad people speaking ill of Him.
There are times in our lives that we are asked to put our faith on the line. We might not be tested as far as Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, but still we are tested. If we were told to go against our beliefs or suffer the consequences, I wonder what we would do. Would we have the moral curage of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, or would we back down and take the easy way out, denying our faith. We need to think on these things.
An important lesson we can learn from the blazing furnace is that we are not alone. When Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego were cast into the furnace, what did the king see? He saw a fourth man walking with them, one who looked like a son of the gods! Had he seen Jesus? Whoever it was, they were not left alone. We need to keep in mind that God is with us, He cares for us and he will protect us. Jesus said, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” Matthew 28:20.