Wherefore at that time certain Chaldeans came near, and accused the Jews.
They spake and said to the king Nebuchadnezzar, O king, live for ever.
Thou, O king, hast made a decree, that every man that shall hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, shall fall down and worship the golden image:
And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth, that he should be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.
There are certain Jews whom thou hast set over the affairs of the province of Babylon, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; these men, O king, have not regarded thee: they serve not thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.
Then Nebuchadnezzar in his rage and fury commanded to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Then they brought these men before the king.
Nebuchadnezzar spake and said unto them, Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, do not ye serve my gods, nor worship the golden image which I have set up?
Now if ye be ready that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the image which I have made; well: but if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter.
If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.
But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.
Then was Nebuchadnezzar full of fury, and the form of his visage was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego: therefore he spake, and commanded that they should heat the furnace one seven times more than it was wont to be heated.
And he commanded the most mighty men that were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace.
Then these men were bound in their coats, their hosen, and their hats, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.
Therefore because the king’s commandment was urgent, and the furnace exceeding hot, the flames of the fire slew those men that took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.
Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonished, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king.
He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.
Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, came forth of the midst of the fire.
And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king’s counsellors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them.
Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God.
Therefore I make a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill: because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort.
Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, in the province of Babylon.
~~ Daniel 3:8-30 (KJV)
The story of the fiery furnace has been quoted time and again. It’s told in Sunday School and in Summer Bible School frequently.
Our focus today, Nebuchadnezzar. He acknowledged the wisdom and knowledge of these Jewish slaves earlier by promoting them to positions of authority in his kingdom. But he was willing to destroy them because they would not worship him and his golden statue instead of their God.
When that failed, when they came through the fiery furnace untouched by flame or smoke, he acknowledged the power of their God.
Ah, but did he believe? Did he worship God. There is no evidence that he did.
We have knowledge of God today, but intellectual acceptance of the existence of God and His power are not enough. Daniel and his friends communed with God four times daily. They went on purpose to a quiet place where God was the only thing on their minds. The bowed in prayer and listened for His Word.
The key to heaven is a relationship with God. Not just a position in a hierarchy, but a relationship.
I have a friend that meets me for breakfast every Wednesday morning. We eat together; we pray together; we share the daily happenings in our lives. When something good happens, we celebrate it. When something not so good happens, we pray over it. This is a relationship.
Do you meet God on a regular basis? Do you invite Him into your life every minute (even when you are scrubbing the toilet)?
Knowledge of God is a good thing, but it is not enough. A relationship with God gives you everything you will ever need.
Help us to understand that You are all we need. But we need You desperately. Give us the grace to acquire knowledge of you and even more grace to cultivate a relationship with you. Grant us the awareness of Your presence at every hour of our day. Let us be purposefully seeking you at all times.
In Jesus’ most precious name.