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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Turn Up the Heat

This morning in a Bible study lesson I was doing, it said to read from Daniel 3:1-30. I've read this story many times and I've taught this story to children many times, but this morning, I took the time to really stop and think about the story. You can read it from the link above, but I'll also paraphrase it a little bit for you.

King Nebuchadnezzar made a 90 feet high-9 feet wide golden image. He sat it up on a plain and issued a decree that whenever the people heard music play, everyone had to bow down to this golden image and worship it. Whoever did not worship the image would be thrown into the fiery furnace. Some astrologers went to the King and told them this: "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." Daniel 3:12

The king was furious! He called for the three men and asked them why they didn't bow down when they heard the music playing. They stood up to the king. "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." Daniel 3:16-18

Well, their defiance to the king's order made him even more angry, so he had the furnace turned up seven times hotter than it already was. He ordered his strongest soldiers to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the furnace. The soldiers did what the king said, but because the fire was so hot, they died. The flames were so hot that they killed the soldiers.

Let's pause right here for a moment and think about what has just happened in this story. First of all, the king gave an order. Secondly, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego disobeyed the order and someone told the king. Thirdly, the king gave the men a chance to bow down before the golden image, but the three men told the king that they would never bow down to that image. They also said that God would be able to serve them from the punishment of the firey furnace. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were not scared about what would happen to them. They would have rather tied in the furnace than to bow down to the false god - the golden image.

So, imagine you are Shadrach, Meshach, or Abednego....what would you have done? Would you have bowed down to the image when you heard the music? Would you have bowed down after someone snitched on you and you heard of your punishment? Would you have been willing to go into a fiery furnace before denying your faith in God?

The next part of the story is truly amazing,even today as I read it and it was to King Nebuchadnezzar, as well! When the king looked into the furnace, he not only saw Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, but also someone else! He said that the four men were walking around, unharmed, and that the fourth one looked like a Son of God (KJV).

The King immediately knew that the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego was, indeed, the one and only true God. He called for them to come out of the furnace. They came out - uncinged, unharmed, and not even smelling like smoke. I really like how this story ends:

"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." Daniel 3:28-30.

Because of their faith, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego taught King Nebuchadnezzar about God that day. In fact, they probably taught a whole group of people that day. And now, thousands of years later, their story is still teaching those who read about it themselves or those who hear about it from someone else. What a great example for us!

Questions to ask yourself:
Am I willing to stand up for God and for Jesus in every situation?
Do I deny God or Jesus by what I do with my life?
Do I deny God or Jesus by what I don't do in my life?
Would I be willing to suffer and be punished rather than go against God and His commands?
Would I have been willing go into the "fiery furnace" which was turned up seven times hotter?
Would I have pleaded with the king for lighter punishment?
Do I realize that how I live my life day to day can greatly influence others?

1 comment:

A.Marie said...

I have heard and read that story many times, and I never noticed that the people were to bow down and worship whenever they heard the music playing. I'm going to go and re-read that passage in the bible again! Great Post! :)

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