Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered King Nebuchadnezzar, ‘There is no need for us to defend ourselves before you in this matter.’ Daniel iii.16 NAB

‘This matter’ – referred to in the above verse – was indeed a grave matter! The three young Jewish men in Babylon faced the wrath of an obstinate king Nebuchadnezzar. The king threatened to cast them into a fiery furnace if they wouldn’t bow down before a great golden image he had set up. It had been reported to him that these young administrators of the province of Babylon wouldn’t serve the king’s idols. They were given one final chance to save themselves from the giant furnace. These servants of Yahweh spurned the king’s cruel mercies. They refused to negotiate with the king or to defend themselves. In effect, they were saying, ‘Go ahead, throw us into your furnace. We will neither resist your decree nor will we defend ourselves.’

The resignation with which Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego faced their king’s wrath did not arise from fatalism or folly. They had not committed themselves to the whims of an earthly emperor. Instead, they had cast themselves into the hands of a living God who was able to save them. They did not for a second doubt God’s ability to deliver them from the king’s hand. The only factor that would decide their fate was God’s supreme will. If God wished to save them, He would. Even if He did not choose to save them, they knew that it was worthwhile to die serving the God of heaven and earth than to live as idolaters. Thus, they were resigned to God’s will. Deep rooted faith can lead to a deliberate choice of inaction – a refusal to defend oneself.

The faith and confidence of these men honored God. The full might of Heaven rallied to rescue the three men who were thrown into a fire that was heated seven-fold to match the king’s fury. The fire consumed the soldiers who obeyed the king’s edict; but it set free the servants of the living God. They were found walking unbound in the blaze with a fourth One who looked like the “Son of God!”  That divine revelation and rescue led the greatest emperor on earth to worship the living God and to protect all His servants. “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent His angel and delivered His servants who put their trust in Him, violating the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies so as not to serve or worship any god except their own God.” (v. 28)

The fire that we might encounter today may not be a literal fire. When faced with people who threaten to throw us into the fires of false accusations and malicious slander, will we choose to defend ourselves? Or, will we resign to God’s sovereign will? If we trust in the living God, he will bring us out of such fires. Even our hair will not be singed; there will not be even the ‘smell of fire’ (v. 27) on us. The hottest of men’s fires will bring out the rich glories of our God who saves those who take refuge in Him.

The furnace of blazing fire
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