The Bible story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and their fiery furnace experience is a lesson for all Christians today. It is a story of not compromising your beliefs despite severe persecution.
The Fiery Furnace Bible Story Summary
This story is from Daniel chapter three and involves the king of Babylon, King Nebuchadnezzar, making a golden image and his requirement that all in the kingdom must bow down and worship it at the sounding of the music. The three Jews who refused to bow down and worship this image were Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. When the Chaldeans reported this news to King Nebuchadnezzar, he was furious and gave orders that the three men be brought before him immediately.
When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego where brought before King Nebuchadnezzar he asked them if it was true that they refused to bow down and worship the image. The king told the three men that they risked being thrown into the fiery furnace if they didn‘t. The three men simply answered the king that it was true – they refused to bow down and worship the golden image. These three Jews didn’t try to make excuses, give the king an apology or try to reason with him. They flatly refused to bow down and worship the idol, even at the king’s command and with the threat of losing their lives. Listen to their bold response: “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 deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up” (Dan 3:16-18). King Nebuchadnezzar was outraged and commanded the men to immediately be thrown into the fiery furnace. In fact, the king ordered that the furnace be heated up to seven times its normal rate as an expression of the king’s rage against the men.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were bound and thrown into the furnace. The furnace was so hot that it immediately annihilated the soldiers who threw the three men into it. The three men were tied up and bound with their garments so as to have no possible escape. King Nebuchadnezzar must have been present because right after this he was astonished and asked his counselors that “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire? They answered, ’True O King’. He then answered and said, ’But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods’” (Dan 3:24-25). The king apparently recognized the fourth person as being a divine being.
When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out of the furnace, their clothes were not harmed, not a hair on their heads were singed and they didn’t even have the smell of smoke on them (Dan. 3:27). King Nebuchadnezzar was so impressed that he commanded everyone in the entire Babylonian Empire to give homage to the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and to not even speak an ill word against him or be put to death. Even the king gave honor and glory to this god, unknown to him as he was, he wrote praises for him: “How great are his signs, how mighty his wonders! His kingdom is an eternal kingdom; his dominion endures from generation to generation” (Dan 4:3).
King Nebuchadnezzar understood that his idol was nothing in comparison to the three men’s God. This God may have been Jesus Himself as He is referred to as someone with the “appearance of a son of the gods“(Dan 3:25). Whether this was a Christophany (a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus Christ) we do not know for sure, but it is interesting that Jesus is referred to as “the Son of Man” more than any other single name in the Bible.
Life Application from Fiery Furnace Story
The conclusion is that God was with these three men. In the fiery ordeal that they went through, God was with them and He went through it with them. The lesson is that through life’s fiery trials and ordeals, God will never leave us nor forsake us (Heb 13:5). God not only knows about our suffering in trials, He goes with us in them and He goes with us through them. He is ever present in times of trouble as Psalm 46:1 says, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” What this Scripture is saying is that God is “ever-present” or always with us in our troubles.
A lesson that we can apply to our lives is that we sometimes have to do things that the world will be angry over. A company may ask you to “cook the books” to cover up something illegal. We may be asked to lie to a customer to save face for the company. There is a chance that we might be told to do something unethical. We might even be tempted to cheat on our taxes but our first and foremost obligation is to always obey God rather than men – even at the risk of injury to ourselves or with the prospect of losing our jobs. Obedience to God is the higher, moral principle. Obedience to employers is commanded by God (Romans 13:1-3) but not when it conflicts with God’s laws and principles. We must stand firm in our faith at all times. We must never compromise what is taught in the Bible. We must obey God over men when there are opposing interests (Acts 5:29). When we face the consequences or are cast into figurative fiery furnaces – even if we are bound – we can rest assured that God is with us before, during, and after. He will be faithful and present with us in our going through them. You can believe God. He will be with you, even in the fiery trials of life.
Did you enjoy this Bible study? Check this one out also:
New International Bible (NIV)
THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.