The Story of The Men in the Furnace

Image of Men in FireThe people who lived in Jerusalem had been taken captive by King Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. The King had taken the strongest, most intelligent and the best looking of the captives to live in his palace in Babylon where he fed them the best of food, educated them and trained them to work for the King throughout the lands over which he had made himself king.

Four of the finest of these captives were Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego. These four had refused to eat the rich food and wine that the King provided for them but rather ate a vegetarian diet and drank milk or water. These simple foods allowed them to develop and to be stronger and more intelligent than all of the other young men in the King's domains. In addition, they prayed three times a day to the God of all creation, the Lord God, and read His word, the Holy Scriptures, daily. These men were devoted completely to God and as true believers worked very hard for their master the King. The one thing that they refused to do, however, was to worship King Nebuchadnezzar's many gods which were presented in the form of idols. Because the four young men were such hard and willing workers the King did not insist that they give up their worship of the God of all creation, the Lord.

One day, after the King had made many conquests of nations and lands the King decided to declare himself a god and to have all of the people worship him as god. He ordered the building of of a great statue of himself which was 90 feet or about 30 meters high. This statue was made of gold and cost a great deal of money. The King had the statue erected on the plains of Dura which were outside the city of Babylon The King then ordered that when the music of the horn, flute, harp, lyre and psaltery was played every person in the world was to fall down on his knees with his head to the ground in worship of the golden statue. Since Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego worshipped only the Lord God of all creation who has ordered everyone in the world to worship Him and Him only, they could not worship the golden statue without making the Lord God unhappy. They therefore refused to fall down and worship the statue of Nebuchadnezzar.

Some of the people who did not like Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego went to the King and said, "O King, live forever! You have made a decree that everyone in the world is supposed to fall down and worship your statue whenever the music of the instruments of worship is played. There are three men in your kingdom who refused to fall down and worship your statue. Neither do they worship your gods although you have set them over your affairs in the province of Babylon."

This made King Nebuchadnezzar furious. He ordered the three young men to appear before him and demanded, "Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego, that you do not serve my gods nor worship the gold image which I have set up? If you refuse to fall down and worship my statue I'll have you thrown into a furnace of fire, and where is the god who can deliver you from that oven?" Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego replied, "O Nebuchadnezzar we cannot obey your command. Our God is able to deliver us from the burning furnace. Nevertheless, even if He does not deliver us from the furnace we shall not fall down and worship your statue since we worship the Lord God and Him alone do we worship."

King Nebuchadnezzar was extremely angry and ordered the furnace to be fired seven times hotter than usual and to throw the three young men into the flames. Shadrach, Meshach and Abed- Nego were bound with ropes before being thrown into the blazing fire. The temperature of the furnace was so hot that all of the men died from the heat when they opened the furnace and threw in the three young men.

When King Nebuchadnezzar later looked into the furnace he exclaimed in amazement, "Did we not cast three men, bound, into the fire? "

The King's men answered, "Yes, that is correct, and the men who threw them into the flames died because of the great heat."

"Look!", the King exclaimed I see four men, loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt. The form of the fourth man is like the Son of God!"

Then King Nebuchadnezzar went to the mouth of the burning, firey furnace and said, "Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego, servants of the Most High God, come out and come here!"

The three young men came from the midst of the fire and stood before the King. Everyone was astonished because not only had the three young men survived the fire that had killed the men who threw them into the furnace, but there also was not the smallest odor of fire or smoke on any of their clothes. Neither was their hair singed nor their garments affected in any way.

King Nebuchadnezzar spoke, "Blessed is the God of shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego who sent His Angel to protect and deliver His servants who trusted in Him. These young men have not agreed to worship any god except their own God. Therefore I make a decree that any people, nation or language who speaks anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshcah and Abed-Nego shall be cut into pieces and their houses burned, because there is no other God who can deliver like this." Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego worshipped and praised The Lord God for delivering them from the burning, firey furnace, and they continued to worship the Lord God all of the days of their lives. King Nebuchadnezzar furthermore promoted the three young men and gave them great authority in the land of Babylon where they lived out their days.