by Wayne Barber
When the three young men were put into harm's way because they would not disobey their God in Daniel 3, they knew that their God would honor them for their obedience to Him. They trusted in the power of God to deliver them:"If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king." God had said to His people in Isaiah: "But now, thus says the Lord, your Creator, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel, "Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you" (Isa. 43:1-2). The king had taunted the Israelites by saying "And what god is there who can deliver you out of my hands?" (Dan. 3:15). Well, he is about to find out! In verse 17 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego asserted "Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire." That is not a statement that is spoken with fickle resolve, but rather it is a statement of deep conviction when one is facing life or death. It has been echoed by believers all through the centuries who have lived in absolute trust that God is God and is to be served at all costs. These three men were convicted of the power of God to deliver, but, they were also convicted of the purpose of God that no matter what He did or didn't do in their behalf, it would be right: "But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up" (3:18). This is true conviction of the character; the integrity; and the purity of the purpose of God. What God does is always right, no matter if it delivers me or not! These three young men demonstrate for us what it is to trust in the impeccable character of God! God always can do anything; but if He doesn't do what we ask and hope for, that doesn't matter because His will is good, acceptable, and perfect.These three men confessed, "We will not disobey Him no matter what the outcome is to be!" The anger of one's flesh is hateful and it is senseless!"Then Nebuchadnezzar was filled with wrath, and his facial expression was altered toward Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego" (v. 19). We must remember that all of us have within us a Nebuchadnezzar of our flesh, and we need to see how it behaves when it doesn't get it's way. Nebuchadnezzar was filled with wrath, and "He answered by giving orders to heat the furnace seven times more than it was usually heated." The furnace was like their electric chair or gas chamber to execute their prisoners (see Jer. 29:22). Now, to show how silly this rage of Nebuchadnezzar was, we must recall that all of this was because they refused to bow down and worship his golden statue. Nebuchadnezzar was so angry that he is totally irrational and orders the furnace to be heated seven times more than normal. Then He continued his insane anger by telling his men to tie them up fully clothed and cast them into the furnace (v. 3:21).
Many think that this furnace was like a "blast furnace," which makes sense to me in this text. The three men would be thrown in from the top of the furnace and Nebuchadnezzar would be looking in from the bottom.
Hidden in the midst of this story is a subtle principle: When you do the bidding of those who live in the power of their flesh you, too, will be burned: "For this reason, because the king's command was urgent and the furnace had been made extremely hot, the flame of the fire slew those men who carried up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego" (v. 22).
Wayne Barber is senior pastor of Hoffmantown Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico.