Read: Daniel 3
If you were raised going to church, you are probably well familiar with Daniel 3. Like Jonah and the whale, David and Goliath, and Daniel and the lions’ den, the fiery furnace is in that stable of Old Testament events that are repeated often in Children’s Church and Sunday School. Or they become the bedtime stories that Christian parents read to their children as they drift off to sleep. This familiarity makes sense, because there is a lot going on in the chapter that makes it easy to grab and maintain the attention of little children. A giant gold statute, a decree from a king, the trio’s civil disobedience to the king’s decree, the fiery furnace that is so hot it kills people who dare go near it, and, of course, the mysterious fourth figure in the furnace, and our trio’s miraculous deliverance.
This is wonderful, and we should want our children and the next generation of Christians to know about these men and how God worked through them and delivered them from their enemies. These great events in redemptive history can get relegated to the same shelf as Clifford the Big Red Dog or Green Eggs and Ham and other beloved children’s stories. We, and our children, can start to think of the fiery furnace as “just a Sunday School Story,” as if can grow out of it just like those other children’s books.
But as with all of those “Sunday School Stories,” as we grow older, we have to remember and teach our children that these events recorded in the Old Testament aren’t just stories—they are real history. And that they aren’t meant merely for children but for all believers throughout history. These accounts are real and they are relevant.
If what you took away from the chapter were only nostalgic memories from your time going to Children’s Church as a kid, or just the thought of “that was a cool story,” then I strongly encourage you to stop reading this and go back to the chapter and read it with fresh eyes.
As we look at Daniel 3, again, there are many details that we can focus on and that deserve our attention, but what is the main point of this story? This may be controversial and go against what some of you learned in Sunday School, but the main point of the story is not Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s faith. Their faith is a major part of the chapter, and something that believers should learn from and emulate, but that isn’t what Daniel is chiefly focusing our attention on.
The main point of the fiery furnace is to behold the One in whom Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego trust. And as we behold this Most High God who is the only One who is able to rescue in the way that he does in this chapter (v. 29), then the application for us is to trust in him as well. We can’t get that order wrong, starting with the trio’s faith and working our way up to the One in whom they believe. No, we must start with God. Then the reason for the trio’s faith and why we should also believe in him becomes obvious.
Read through this chapter and meditate on his uniqueness and his sovereignty in ordaining this situation. God places faithful men in the midst of a pagan land so that he would be magnified and glorified throughout this pagan nation by the mouth of its pagan king. And how about that statement from Nebuchadnezzar? What other god can rescue? Who other than the one true God deserves to be blessed? And what should be the just punishment for blaspheming his holy name and character? Only when we behold God rightly in this chapter does Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s answer to the king’s offer (that if they will just bow down to his golden image, they won’t be killed) become our answer as well. When we know this God whom our trio knew, how could we ever entertain the idea of worshipping another god, especially when we have seen his power to rescue most perfectly displayed in the sacrificial death of Christ. There is no other god who is able to rescue in this way. Behold the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and like them entrust yourself to him through Christ all the days of your life.
Ponder and Pray: Consider Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s answer to the king in verses 17-18. What does this response reveal about their future hope and how does it relate to our future hope in Christ? Finish by going to our great God in prayer.