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Daniel 3: They Wouldn’t Turn or Burn

I took few notes about this passage of scripture since I’m fairly familiar this story. Still, I learned some fascinating things I hadn’t thought of in a while.

One question I remember from growing up in church, a question that nobody in church seemed to have an answer for: where was Daniel during the events of Daniel 3?

My guess was he was away on business. Or perhaps Nebuchadnezzar knew Daniel wouldn’t worship the image but that he was privately excused from the task because he was far too valuable to burn. I suspect God was testing Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to see if they could stand by themselves or if their convictions were nothing more than extensions of Daniel’s. It’s easy to stand for the Lord when the room’s filled with unbelievers: try it in the Army where most around you couldn’t care less about God.

Nebuchadnezzar set out this statue for all his minions to worship. This was presumably done to establish his power over the kingdom. And of course, when the three young Hebrew men refused and rebuffed Nebie’s second chance, he became so angry his countenance changed. His anger could be expected: if these three refuse and nothing’s done about them, how soon will it be before even more refused?

I love their response when Nebie told them their God couldn’t save them from the fire: If God wills it, our lives will be spared. If he does not will it, know this, O king: we will not worship your gods, nor will we bow down to your golden image.

So, the furnace was heated “seven times” hotter, presumably meaning seven bellows were used to pump in more air. The king sent his most valiant soldiers to escort the three into the furnace, and the soldiers died from the heat. Can you imagine burning to death while wearing metal armor? Yikes!

Not only do S, M and A not burn, and not only do they return unsinged with no odor of burnt fabric, burnt hair or burnt flesh, but Nebie also saw a fourth person in with them. He called it a “Son of God.” It’s hard to tell whether this was a pre-incarnation of Jesus or simply an angel, especially since the pagan, polytheistic Babylonian king no doubt had a different definition of “God” than we did. Honestly, I don’t know. It very well may have been Jesus, but it could’ve been an angel.

Verses 28-30 tell of Nebuchadnezzar’s proclamation regarding Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego’s right to worship their God. More specifically, anybody who speaks amiss of their God shall be executed and their houses destroyed. Nebie had now seen up close and personal what God was capable of. And we also see God was planting seeds and allowing Daniel and his friends the opportunity to teach this king more about the true God.

Richard Zowie is an active blogger. Post comments here or e-mail richardstwoshekels@gmail.com.

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