Summary: This message looks at the faith that Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego had in order to stand up to the King.
They had always wondered what it would like to stare into the face of imminent death. Well actually they had never wondered what it would be like to stare into the face of imminent death, but here they were anyway. Three young men who were only doing what they thought was right and now they were to pay the ultimate price. Because they had disobeyed a royal decree they were to be put to death, and not just any death they were to suffer a nasty death. I mean if you had to be sentenced to death this was just rude. They were to be thrown into an immense furnace used for firing pottery and apparently the occasional execution. Not a situation that anyone would want to be presented with, but here they were. And I’m sure a that point they thought of those great words of Yogi Berra’s “The Future aint what it used to be.”
You may or may not remember the story, it was read earlier in the service and it makes up a portion of the book of Daniel. The names that you would recognize the three young men by would be Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. I know of one person who used to call them Your Shack, My Shack and Little bungalow and I had a professor at Bible College who was in the habit of referring to them as Shake the Bed, Make the Bed and in the Bed you Go. But their names, at least the names you would know them by were Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Those however were not the names they were born with. Those names were Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, but when the last of Israel fell to the Babylonians the people were taken into captivity and the crème de le crème of the young men were taken to the royal palace so they could be trained up in the way of their conquerors. And a part of that process was to take away their Hebrew names and to give them Babylonian names, so that’s when they became Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
From the beginning though these three and their friend Daniel had problems fitting into the plans that King Nebuchadnezzar had for them. When they were first brought to the palace they were given food from the King’s kitchen to eat, which you would think would be fairly good vittles. However listen to what it says in Daniel 1:8 But Daniel made up his mind not to defile himself by eating the food and wine given to them by the king. He asked the chief official for permission to eat other things instead. I’m don’t know what it was about the food that Daniel objected to, it may have included items like pork which were prohibited under Jewish religious law, maybe it was food that had been offered to idols or perhaps he felt that by accepting that food he would be acknowledging defeat. Whatever the reason Daniel convinced the other three to eat only vegetables and to drink only water. Their decision was not met with great enthusiasm from the powers that be however the boys convinced them to give it a shot and when they seemed to be doing better then the rest of the group they were permitted to continue with their modified menu.
For three years they were taught and trained in the court of the king and at the end of that period Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were the honour students and were appointed as advisers in the King’s Court.
But that was then and this was now. If we fast forward ahead three years we discover that King Nebuchadnezzar has come down with a bad case of deity envy, that is he wanted to be God. And if’n you’re God then you should be worshipped and that’s where we come into the story. Karen read from the first part of this encounter earlier in the service, Nebuchadnezzar had a huge idol created and erected. When the royal musicians played everyone was to bow down and worship the statue, everyone, even exiled Jews. If we had background music here it would change to a minor key signifying that something bad was about to happen.
Now if you grew up in church and Sunday School then you already know the story, I hadn’t heard it until I was twenty. We don’t know where Daniel was at this time, most scholars feel that because he isn’t mentioned that he must have been out of the area. However the other three were there and they weren’t making the King happy.
You see when everyone else bowed, they didn’t. Must have had something to do with the entire Deuteronomy 5:7-9 You know where it says, Do not worship any other gods besides me.