Have you ever been asked to do something that you knew was wrong?
The book of Daniel in the Old Testament (can you find it in your Bible?) tells the story of a Jewish boy named Daniel and his three friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who were taken out of the promised land and into slavery in Babylon.
But the book of Daniel isn’t really meant to be about Daniel and his friends. It’s meant to be about the king of Babylon, King Nebuchadnezzar, and his showdown with God.
You see, King Nebuchadnezzar thought he was God. He thought that he was the ruler of the world. But he wasn’t, was he? God is the one who is in charge of the world isn’t he? And so God used four Jewish friends, who stood up to King Nebuchadnezzar, to show King Nebuchadnezzar that he can’t stand up to God. God used four Jewish slaves to make himself visible to the world.
The book of Daniel tells us that King Nebuchadnezzar made a giant statue of himself and ordered everyone to bow down and worship his statue. Anyone that refused to worship Nebuchadnezzar would be thrown into a giant fiery furnace and be burned up. Oh my!
But Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego would not bow down. They had decided that they would only worship God. So of course King Nebuchadnezzar had them brought forward to be thrown into the fiery furnace. But listen to what they said to the king before being thrown into the flames:
Daniel 3:16-18. 16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17 If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. 18 But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had great faith in God. They knew that God would save them one way or another. If God kept them from going into the furnace they would be saved. But even if they had to die in the furnace they knew God would take them to heaven to live with him forever.
But then God did something amazing. He didn’t keep them out of the fire, and he didn’t let them die in the fire and go to heaven. God entered into the fiery furnace WITH them! Here’s what the King said when he looked into the furnace:
Daniel 3:25. Nebuchadnezzar 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.”
King Nebuchadnezzar saw a fourth man walking around in the fire with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Do you know who that was? It was Jesus. Jesus went into the fire with them. Because of their faith and because Jesus was with them, our three friends didn’t get burned up in the fire. And God used their faith to change the heart of King Nebuchadnezzar who said, “There is no other god who is able to save in this way.”
500 years after the fiery furnace, Jesus came and entered into our punishment again when he died for us on the cross. Jesus protected us from being burned up by sin and death when he died and rose again. Now, like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego we can live by faith. We can live unafraid. We can live knowing that God might keep us from bad things or he might not, but either way we will be with Jesus no matter what happens. And when we live in faith others will see it like Nebuchadnezzar did. And who knows, they might just decide to worship Jesus too.
Because of Jesus I never have to be afraid of what will happen to me because I will always be with Jesus.
With Jesus I can live in faith and show Jesus to others.
DO SOMETHING TOGETHER
Here’s a coloring page of Jesus in the fire with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
I know I can trust you to never leave me. Help my faith to show you to others.
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