Summary: Why should they risk the fiery furnace? If they were going to take a stand, it should be over something that is really important. But sometimes, it’s the little things that cause such great damage.
Great Faith vs. the Fiery Furnace
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up. (Daniel 3:16-18)
If you have read the second chapter of Daniel, you may have thought that Nebuchadnezzar was close to believing in God.
He had a dream that bothered him, but Daniel explained it.
And then the king told Daniel, “Of a truth it is, that your God is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets...”
He acknowledged that Jehovah, the God of the Jews, was the greatest of gods, however in a short time we find him setting up an idol, and putting to death anyone who will not worship it.
That shouldn’t seem strange, because we see it every day; we see men and women who appear to be Christians, but after a while they forget all about Christ, and they may even become enemies of the gospel.
There will always be some who will slip back to what they once were, because according to the proverb, “The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.”
Jesus said that they will go from us, because they are not one of us.
And their final state will be worse than the first.
This great king of Babylon was an absolute monarch, and no one dared to disagree with him.
After all, who would disagree with a man who could back up his arguments with a fiery furnace, or who threatened to cut you into pieces and to make your house into a pile of rubble?
And when he sets up a god of his own design, and brings all the officials in his vast kingdom to the image, and makes them to bow down before it, would anybody refuse to do it?
But, there were three who defied him, and they had done it once before.
They had broken the laws of his court by refusing to eat unclean meat; and although they ate nothing but vegetables, “At the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king's meat."
The king, himself, had promoted them in the kingdom, and so he expected them to do what he said and to be a good example; but these three had a faith that couldn’t be conquered, even by the master of the whole world.
They stood before their king and refused to bow before the idol.
There are three things about these men that we should take notice of:
FIRST, THE EXCUSES THEY MIGHT HAVE MADE.
SECOND, THE CONFIDENCE THEY POSSESSED.
THIRD, THEIR DETERMINATION.
First of all, as we think about these three brave Jews, let’s consider THE EXCUSES THEY MIGHT HAVE MADE.
They were accused of committing crimes by the Babylonians, even though Daniel and his three friends had just recently saved their lives.
The king was furious and he ordered Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to be brought to him immediately.
He found it hard to believe that anyone in his kingdom would dare to defy his authority, so he gave them a choice.
He said, "Here is the golden image; you three Jews are to bow down before it. If you do not, there is the burning fiery furnace, and into that you shall be cast at once. What is your answer?"
They could have said to themselves, “It is useless to resist. If we give in, who would blame us? We can’t be expected to throw our lives away. Let’s just bow our heads and worship the image, just like everyone else.”
Then again, they could have said something like this, “Didn’t one of our wise men say, ‘When in Babylon, you must do as Babylonians do’? If we were home in Jerusalem, we wouldn’t think of doing such a thing. We would remember that God said, ‘Thou shalt have no other gods before me…and thou shalt not bow down thy self to them, nor serve them.’ If we were at home we would obey that law, but we are hundreds of miles from Jerusalem, and so we may be permitted to give in this time.”
I have known many Christians who think this way, when they are away from home.
When they are in a place where no one knows them, they say and do things that they never would at home, where family and friends are on hand.