God Rules Over Kings
I would like you to picture that you are standing before a king and his men for a moment. You and your two friends have been brought before them for being obedient to the one, true God and disobedient to their idol. The King has threatened you with death prior along with the rest of the population, telling you that a furnace of fire would be your fate if you didn’t worship the image that he had put in place… and here you are.
What emotion do you have?
The King now tells you that if you worship the image directly, all will be well, but it’s death for you and your companions if you don’t. At this moment, you three are the only ones that you know of who are standing firm in their faith. What do you do? Do you bow? Or do you remain faithful?
This was the setting for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
The Wicked Hear of the King
The book of Daniel is one that speaks much of the power of God over earthly authority… and this may very well be the main point of Chapter three. King Nebuchadnezzar was a prideful king, one who didn’t fear God and dwelled in evil. In the chapter prior, it’s easy to think that he was beginning to know God personally, but we soon see that his heart was still far from Him.
Chapter three opens with King Nebuchadnezzar making a large golden image for the people to worship at his command. This statue was no slouch either at ninety feet tall and nine feet wide. (Daniel 3:1) Once erected, the statue was to be worshipped by all peoples at the sound of music playing, and if anyone did not worship this idol, the fiery furnace would be their fate. (Daniel 3:6) In the eyes of King Nebuchadnezzar, all seemed to be going as planned (I assume) until three men of God were brought before him for challenging his authority.
The Faith and the Challenge
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had recently been set as rulers of affairs for Babylon’s province. They were authority figures put in place by the King at Daniel’s request because Daniel had found favor in the sight of the King Nebuchadnezzar (see chapter two).
However, their authority and favor in the sight of the King did not outweigh King Nebuchadnezzar’s unfaithfulness and pride for himself. So, at the moment when these three men challenged him to his face, standing firm in their faith in the one true God and resting in knowing that He would deliver them, King Nebuchadnezzar sentenced them to be bound and thrown into the fiery furnace. (Daniel 3:16-21) The fire was so hot that its blaze killed the men who threw them into the flames… and yet, salvation had come for God’s people.
Salvation: The Authority of God Reigns
“Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose in haste. He declared to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered and said to the King, “True, O king.” 25 He 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.” (Daniel 3:24:25)
I can only imagine the racing of thoughts inside the mind of King Nebuchadnezzar at this moment. There was no doubt here that power existed that exceeded that of King Nebuchadnezzar in the people’s presence.
I find it beautiful that God did the exact thing that King Nebuchadnezzar did not think could happen (rescue these men from their fate). Not only did God let Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be bound, but He allowed them to be thrown into the fire. God could have destroyed the King and delivered these men before that took place, but He didn’t. Much to the character and past actions that we see of God, He does things in a big way.
He allowed the situation to escalate to a point where there could be no doubt at all that it was HIM ALONE rescuing these men. No one else could have done this. It was impossible.
Not only did God have these men unbound and unscathed, but He also went so far as to keep the smell of smoke from piercing the pores of their skin. They were completely unfazed by the King’s sentence and completely guarded in every way from the death sentence that faced them.
GOD RULES OVER KINGS
In our current day, where fear, lies, and frustration rule the hearts of many, we need to remember this fact: No authority is above God’s authority. No mayor, governor, president, or dictator will ever have an authority that comes close to matching that of the one true God, whose power can part seas and heal the wicked hearts of men.
I hope you see that this passage is not mainly about Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, or even King Nebuchadnezzar. It is about the one true God whose power and authority is unmatched and always will be. May we seek to make His glory known.
Church, as you worship the Lamb Who was slain, never forget that He is also a roaring lion Who causes demons to tremble where they stand. (James 2:19) He is Alpha and Omega. He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He is THE authority. Seek Him. Trust Him. Honor Him.
In the words of King Nebuchadnezzar (whether they were said with a right heart or not) “… “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set aside the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God.”
Grace and Peace, Church