Summary: Bringing in a different dimension to the account of Shadrach, Mesach and Abednego's miraculous deliverance from the fiery furnace!!!
STREAMS IN THE DESERT
Scrip: “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:18-19
All throughout the Biblical history, we see numerous examples of those who had made a mess of their lives, landing in barren wilderness, as it were, experiencing His gracious restoration consequent to their repentance. Virtually streams have gushed forth, right where they were… in the dry sterile desert, whenever they have sought Him sincerely with a contrite heart. The juicy one-liner the good Lord creates a message from the mess His loved ones’ land up in, is not manifested more clearly than in the lives of Shadrach, Mesach and Abednego of the fiery furnace fame.
The image of these faithful men rescued sensationally by their faithful God from the throes of death even as they defied the King by refusing to bow before an imposing idol, would doubtless inspire people of all ages. But if we were to hit the rewind button just for a moment and dig a bit deep, into this thrilling account-by way of some posers’ – a totally different dimension, of this story would emerge.
What were these 3 Jewish youth in the post David era, doing in Babylon in the first place? Did these natives of the kingdom of Judah come over there either in pursuit of higher education or in search of greener pastures, in the same way we see many doing, in this modern era crossing even several seas’ in the process? The benumbing, chilling answer to these questions would be that “they like many of their ilk (the exiled Jews) were in Babylon as a punishment for their sin of worshipping idols.” Yes, for very same sin, they refrained from, now!
A history flashback at this stage would reveal that despite several warnings through prophets such as Isaiah and Jeremiah the people of Judah who were sold-out to idol-worship, courtesy the wicked reigns of certain kings like Ahaz (II Chronicles 26) and Zedekiah (II Chronicles 36: 11-13) would not turn from their idol-worshipping ways, leaving God with no option but to bring to effect all the warnings, He had issued till then. In a nutshell, He perforce had to execute His judgment of exiling them from the land flowing with milk and honey for they had violated their covenant relationship with Him which demanded that they be allowed to enjoy the choicest portion of planet Earth only on implicitly obeying Him (Deuteronomy 28:1-14). Disobedience would lead to a tragic situation as brought forth in II Chronicles 36:6-21, which too had been prophesied by Moses in his farewell address to his people as recorded in Deuteronomy 28:49-64.
In fact the closer scrutiny of events related to the Judean exile would reveal that it (exile) took place in three phases
a) Political – Daniel 1:1-4- during which the Royals and the political class were exiled in 606 BC. To this group belonged our death-defying terrific trio…Shadrach, Mesach and Abednego