King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, ninety feet high and nine feet wide, and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. He then summoned the satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates and all the other provincial officials to come to the dedication of the image he had set up. So the satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates and all the other provincial officials assembled for the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up, and they stood before it.
Then the herald loudly proclaimed, “This is what you are commanded to do, O peoples, nations and men of every language: As soon as you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and all kinds of music, you must fall down and worship the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.”
Therefore, as soon as they heard the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp and all kinds of music, all the peoples, nations and men of every language fell down and worshiped the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.
At this time some astrologers came forward and denounced the Jews. They said to King Nebuchadnezzar, “O king, live forever! You have issued a decree, O king, that everyone who hears the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and all kinds of music must fall down and worship the image of gold, and that whoever does not fall down and worship will be thrown into a blazing furnace. But there are some Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon–Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego –who pay no attention to you, O king. They neither serve your gods nor worship the image of gold you have set up.”
Furious with rage, Nebuchadnezzar summoned Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. So these men were brought before the king, and Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up? Now when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and all kinds of music, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?”
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”
Then Nebuchadnezzar was furious with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and his attitude toward them changed. He ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual and commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. So these men, wearing their robes, trousers, turbans and other clothes, were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace. The king’s command was so urgent and the furnace so hot that the flames of the fire killed the soldiers who took up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and these three men, firmly tied, fell into the blazing furnace.
Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?”
They replied, “Certainly, O king.”
He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”
Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!”
So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire, and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.
Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way.”
Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the province of Babylon.
So much could be written about this story. It is without a doubt one of the greatest events of the Old Testament. However, as I am going through each of these stories, I am attempting to write what the Lord brings to my mind initially. I could write about how the fires of life are where we find the Lord at His most powerful. I could write about how the things that bind us are burned away in the most difficult fires of life leaving those who trust in the Lord free. I could write about the how the hottest fires of life will defeat some of our enemies, prove us to be the favored of God, and turn the hearts of unbelieves all at the same time. I could write about how we should be joyful as we fall into the fire because we know that God is about to do something great. But the first thing that came to my mind was not any of these. It was loyalty.
The nation of Israel had been exiled to Babylon. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, along with Daniel were taken to be servants of the Babylonian king. Their names were changed which was a custom to represent a significant change in their life. They had been royals in Israel and now they were slaves in Babylon. As part of their training to be a servant of the king, they were given the best of everything including food. But this food was not pleasing to the Lord so they asked the official overseeing them to allow them to eat only the food God approved of. At the end of the time, these four men were healthier than everyone else. God responded to their faithfulness by giving them knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. He gave them wisdom.
Solomon would teach us that wisdom is the greatest gift given to man from God and it is worth everything. All they did was follow God’s diet. They did not defeat the enemy. They did not even fight the enemy. They did lead many people to God. They did not even lead the official over them to God. All they did was pick the right food. They were faithful to God in the little things and He was faithful in big ways.
The Lord continues to do great things for them and their reputation continues to increase in the Babylonian kingdom. And then the king lays down this law that everyone must bow to this statue. Would they be loyal to the God would had brought them this far or would they try to protect their own life? Well, you know the story. They remained loyal to the God who had done so much for them.
When you look at everything that God has done for you, have you responded with loyalty to Him? Have you put Him first above all things? After all, He has given you life. He has provided for you. He has protected you. He has redeemed you. He even died for you. Have you been loyal to Him when His name has been challenged? I think it is very easy to be loyal when everything is going well, but in the moment of crisis, the ability to be loyal comes from remembering all that God has already done for us. If He never does another thing for us, if we never receive another blessing, He has already done more than we ever deserved. We must keep these things on our mind so that when life get a little hot, we will not fear. We will not turn our loyalty over to the gods of stress, worry, and manipulation. Let us remember that He has been faithful to us and let’s remain loyal to Him.
After all, loyalty in the face of fire means we will never be alone in the fire. There will be another and he will be the Son of God.