Summary: Take a look back at a familiar story in this sermon on the 3 amigos- Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego
Tonight, we’re beginning a series on Old Testament Bible Stories. These are the stories your parents may have read to you before bed, or you may have learned in Children’s church, and stories that may have molded the faith that you now have. It was probably easy for you and I to see when we were kids that these stories were fantastic, and we believed them. Just like the Chronicles of Narnia-an allegorical tale of Aslan and the kids—they were easy to believe. But, I wonder how many of us still believe things like this took place. Tonight, I’m going to challenge what you believe, and invite you to a new faith in the God of the Old Testament.
Let’s take a look at the story of Daniel’s friends-Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego. In the first chapter of Daniel’s book, it says that Daniel and his 3 friends were sent into exile in Babylon. The people of Israel in the old testament were God’s chosen people. Daniel, Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego were all Israelites in the service of God with a commitment to God. Yet, their faithfulness to God was always being tested, and they would be tempted with worshiping Baal repeatedly. So, these 4 are taken to Babylon-and exiled from their people. They were all even given new names. Daniel’s Babylonian name would be Belteshazzar, Hananiah would be called Shadrach, Mischael would be called Meschach, and Azariah would be called Abednego. From the beginning of their involvement in Babylon, they were tempted to follow the culture—they were educated in the Babylonian literature and language, and were expected to serve the king. The challenge was ahead of them—what would they do when tempted to follow the Babylonian religion? We’ll take a look at Daniel’s challenge next week, but tonight, let’s focus on his 3 friends and the fiery furnace. Chapter 3 tells us about King Nebuchadnezzar’s Idol.
The King built this image of gold—90 feet tall and 9 feet wide, which probably resembled the king himself. This statue could probably be seen from anywhere in the city at that time. So, the king issues a decree—a newsflash—that states anytime there are the sounds of horns, flutes, harps, and other instruments all at the same time, then everyone in the city must bow down and worship the image. At that time, there were a lot of people who didn’t believe they should bow down, but many of them did—because they were scared of what would happen to them---the fiery furnace. Others—shadrach, meschach, and Abednego didn’t bow down, and they were caught.
It’s kind of like this. You remember in elementary school, it used to be every morning after the bell would ring that the whole class would have to stand and put their hand on their chest and say the pledge of allegiance to the flag. We all knew that was what we were supposed to do, but let’s say there were a few kids in the class who didn’t believe in this country, and they didn’t stand, or say the pledge. There would always be a tattle tale who would tell the teacher on them, and they’d have to sit in time out.
This kind of thing happened to the 3 amigos. They heard the sound of horns and such; they knew they were supposed to bow down to this image, but they didn’t. They were being obedient to their God. There were also some tattle tales who told the king on them. So, ultimately, they had to stand before the king and give a reason for why they didn’t bow. So, they did. Vs. 13-16, “Then Nebuchadnezzar, in rage and fury, gave the command to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. So they brought these men before the king. Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying to them, ‘Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the gold image which I have set up? Now if you are ready at the time you hear the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, and you fall down and worship the image which I have made, good! But if you do not worship, you shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you from my hands?’ Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, ‘O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.’”