The three young men were standing in front of the king of one of the most powerful nations. His face was filled with rage. They were men of influence in his cabinet and now they were rebelling against him, treasonous in his mind. He would give them one more chance, and if they again refused to follow his instructions, he would order their immediate execution.
If you are not familiar with this story, let me summarize it for you. It is recorded in the Bible in the third chapter of Daniel. The king of Babylon was Nebuchadnezzar (we’ll call him Chad for short). Years earlier, these three men had been taken as captives when Israel lost a war with Babylon. In time, the three young men (Shadrach, Abednego, Meshach – I’ll refer to all three by their initials, SAM) became respected men in Chad’s administration.
Chad, like most dictators, was a very proud man. To honor himself, he had a 90-foot statue erected and ordered all his officials to bow down and worship it. When the designated signal was given, everyone dropped to his knees before the statue … everyone except SAM. They remained standing erect. When a whistleblower told the king about SAM’s refusal to bow, the king was furious and called them to explain their disregard for his order.
Chad gave them one more chance to bow before his statue. If they again refused to bow, he threatened to have them bound and thrown into a furnace to burn to death. At this, the three said, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 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 3:16–18)
These three young men had tremendous faith in God. They knew God COULD deliver them through the furnace, but if He chose not to, they’d continue to obey and honor Him. They were clear with Chad, that they were not intimidated by him. Regardless of his threats, they had no intention of bowing down before his statue.
True to his word, Chad immediately had them bound and thrown into a super-hot furnace. The king, expecting to hear screams and see bodies writhing, was shocked to see all three walking around in the fire, with a fourth man accompanying them! When Chad yelled for the men to come out, only the three young men did, completely unharmed. Only the ropes around them had burned away. Their robes didn’t even smell like smoke. As a result of this, Chad sent a proclamation throughout his entire empire that SAM’s God should be worshiped.
God took human form and was the fourth man in the fire. Because God is with us, too, we don’t need to be intimidated by others. Not every issue that confronts us is of paramount importance. But there are times we are to stand our ground for our faith, regardless of who is against us. Jesus’ disciples did this when they replied to the demands of the religious leaders to not speak about Jesus anymore. They said, “We must obey God rather than men!” (Acts 5:29)
Daniel’s friends were willing to lose their lives instead of compromising their values. In our case, we may need to be willing to lose a job, a friend, or some other relationship. Whatever fiery trial you face, you can count on God walking through the fire with you. “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” (Isaiah 43:2). Jesus has promised to “never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5) You will never stand alone.