by Paula Harrington
As Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah faced their imminent death by the hands of King Nebuchadnezzar and his fiery furnace, they made a very bold proclamation. In one of my favorite stories in the Bible these three young men from Judah, brought to Babylon as slaves, faced a great ruler and because of their faith, introduced a pagan empire to the God of Israel.
After having their names changed to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and the Lord revealing the meaning of a dream to their friend Daniel, the men were promoted within the kingdom.
Shortly after, the king built a large golden image and declared that the people of Babylon were to fall down in worship at the sounding of the music. As the government officials were assembled together for the dedication ceremony, these three men, fully aware that not worshiping the idol meant death, refused to bow.
We are told in Daniel 3:13 that this made the king furious. In anger, he had them brought before him, demanding that they submit to his command.
However in confidence they answered,
“If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and He will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if He does not, we want you to know, O king that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up” (Daniel 3:17-18 NIV).
This was their time. Everything that they had been taught and everything they believed to be true came down to this moment and here their faith was being tested in a most horrific way.
What went through their minds as they heard the king order the furnace to be heated seven times hotter? Did they think of their loved ones? Did they think of the pain they would endure? Did they reflect on their childhoods, their achievements, or their failures?
It is at times of persecution when we learn what we’re really made of, what we really believe and whom we really serve. As we go about our lives let us pray for the faith and courage that the three men from Judah had and let us say with confidence that:
Even if we are disappointed,
Even if we are abused,
Even if we are threatened,
Even if we are faced with overwhelming grief,
Even if we are forsaken and despised by our peers,
Even if we lose our health,
Even if we lose our wealth,
Even if we lose our freedom,
Even if we lose all that we have upon this earth we will not lose God. As his children, let us be brave and faithful and may we only bow to the One we serve, the Creator of the heavens and the earth.