Posted by: Caleb Butler | October 12, 2009

Fire and Brimstone

This is an unusual blog.  I just wanted to share with everyone this fascinating story and a few lessons I’ve learned.

You should know the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, the three who were thrown into the fiery furnace by King Nebuchadnezzar.  (Maybe I like this story only because of the names.  You gotta admit, they are pretty sweet.)  Well, if you don’t here’s a quick summary.

King N. decides to build a huge golden image and pay a big band to blare music so everyone can know when it is time to bow down and worship the king’s construction.  All of the government officials (including Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) are commanded to bow down.  Word  gets out pretty quickly that ‘rach, ‘shach, and ‘nego aren’t bowing down.  The King gives them one more chance to obey, but they simply tell him no.  He has them thrown into the fiery furnace, but an angel appears, and God saves the three faithful.

Yay, God saves them.  He’s awesome.  Good story, let’s move on, right?

Let’s take a moment to learn from the three close friends of Daniel.

First of all, they were obedient.  “You shall have no other gods before me.”  Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego remained standing when everyone else bowed down.  They literally stood out.  Are we obedient – even if it makes us look silly?  Also, is God your top priority?  Society doesn’t place gold statues in our way, but there are so many things we can make an idol.  Sometimes we place our schedules above all else – those tasks we think we need to get done – and we walk right past an opportunity.  How do we react to distractions or disruptions?  Sometimes we place comfort above all else, making excuses for not having an awkward conversation or for not taking time for somebody.  So again I’ll ask.  Are we obedient?

Moving along, let’s look at the conversation before King N. throws Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego into the furnace.  King N. ends his threat with the words, “And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?”  (How ignorant!)  Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego reply by saying God will deliver them from the furnace and from the king.  But even if he doesn’t, they still refuse to bow down to any other god.

While staring into the flames of the furnace, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego believed God would protect them. They expected the impossible.  Sure, they were probably knocking knees, but something deep within told them that God was going to get them out of it.  Like Adidas, impossible is nothing.  God works miracles.  He is far greater than our understanding, and He can do far greater things than we could ever imagine.  Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego didn’t just say this on Sunday morning or in Bible study.  Do we look at life this way?  Do we look for God to show up and save the situation?  And do we live this way?  Do we go out on a limb, take a chance, risk something, because God told us to?

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego did.  And the result?  God did save them!  King N. had the furnace turned seven times hotter than usual.  Seven times!  The guards who threw them into it were killed from the flames!  But a “son of the gods” appeared in the furnace with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and protected them from the heat.  Everyone “saw that the fire had not had any power over the bodies of those men.  The hair on their heads was not singed, their cloaks were not harmed, and no smell of fire had come upon them” (v. 27).

Their clothes weren’t even burned, which turned out to be a bad thing because the fire didn’t dry up the pee stains on the front of their pants.  This was a paltry matter, though.  For right after sauntering around with an angel of God and escaping the flames of hell, they heard these words:

“‘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.  Therefore I make a decree:  Any people, nation, or language that speaks anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be torn limb from limb, and their houses laid in ruins, for there is no other god who is able to rescue in this way.’  Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the province of Babylon.” (v. 28-30)

The moral of this story must be that if you get the right people, those in power, to believe in God, then you will become governor.  And everyone who refuses to believe will be torn limb from limb and lose their housing!  Yay!

Maybe that’s not the point…

Our obedience, as it shows a deep faith in God, can truly change lives.  Through our lives, others can come to see God.  We need to remember that and be encouraged by it.

I urge you all to live like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.  Live with a God-sized view of God.

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Responses

  1. Caleb,

    I wrote a song from this very story. I’m pretty sure you’d like it…here’s the chorus:

    Even if the flames are blazing
    Even if streams overflow
    Even if the dark night lingers
    God can bring me home

  2. Thanks man. Yeah, I’d love to hear it. Ryan forwarded your satirical song about the Beautitudes. It was thought-provoking, like usual from you.

  3. Caleb,

    I just came across this, and I am so glad I did! I just finished part I of our Daniel study this morning, and we are in the chapter where God saves Daniel from the lion. Just like the flames, we see how the lion is completely capable of eating those who disobey God. King Darius throws Daniel’s persecutors AND their families into the lion’s den after he finds that God did indeed save Daniel. Then, King Darius demanded that EVERYONE in the entire land to respect and revere Daniel’s God. WOW!! Yes, people’s lives can be changed if we step out on the limb and expect God to do what he does best…show up on his terms!

    I love you, brother!


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