In the book of Daniel, we read about three young Hebrew men who were taken from their families when King Nebuchadnezzar conquered Judah. These three faithful men stood against their new king with boldness and refused to bow to his false idol. Their names were Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. The chief of the eunuchs of Babylon gave them new names. Hananiah’s name was changed to Shadrach. Mishael to Meshach, and Azariah’s new name was Abednego.
In the beginning of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s captivity in Babylon they went through a time of preparation before coming before the king. Finally, when it was time, they were brought to the king. After he interviewed them, King Nebuchadnezzar was well pleased finding the young men to possess ten times the knowledge and wisdom than that of his own magicians and astrologers. God gave them the knowledge and wisdom the king witnessed, and after some prompting by Daniel himself the king set them over the affairs of the province.
After a while, King Nebuchadnezzar became so full of himself that he commissioned a golden image. When the statue was completed, it stood approximately 90-feet which is about the size of a ten-story building. Nebuchadnezzar commanded everyone, “that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up” (Daniel 3:5).
Now the king received word from certain people of the province that his three favored young advisors, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, were being disobedient to his command and refused to bow down and worship the golden image. So, the king sent for the three young men and explained to them that if their disobedience continued, they would be thrown into a fiery furnace. In other words, the king gave them one last chance to change their minds and bow down to the golden image.
They responded with the following declaration. “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” (Daniel 3:16-8). Basically, the three young men told King Nebuchadnezzar in no uncertain words, “We will absolutely not worship your stupid statue, O king.”
As you can imagine, the king was infuriated. He had the furnace heated seven times hotter than normal. Then he ordered his mighty men of valor to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and cast them into the fiery furnace. The heat was so intense that the mighty men were consumed by the fire when they tossed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego into what was supposed to be their fiery grave. However, God miraculously and supernaturally delivered Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego unharmed from the flames and intense heat of the furnace. In a pre-incarnate appearance, the Lord Jesus Christ was there in the furnace walking beside the three young men, keeping them from harm.
What is the lesson for Christians today? What can you and I learn from the fiery experience of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego? The answer is we can gain courage from knowing Jesus is with us, even when we face persecution and trials.
Granted, you and I are not being tossed into fire for our faith, but I do believe that persecution of the Christian Church is coming. It would be quite arrogant of us Christians living here in the United States of America to think we are immune. In fact, we are already witnessing some of it today. Watch the news, read a newspaper, or scan an internet news site and you’ll see the agenda of Satan as he works to steal, kill, and destroy all things Christian. Here are a just a few of the recent Bible prophecy headline news stories:
In Colorado, Christian baker and cake artist Jack Phillips is back in court. He is being sued by homosexual activists again, this time for refusing to make a “gender transition” cake. Phillips isn’t the only cake artist in Colorado, but because he is a Christian, he is the only one being taken to court on these issues.
The University of Iowa recently decided to deregister all on-campus Christian groups. The reason university officials gave for this action was because the Christian groups required their leaders to agree with a statement of faith. They believe it is discrimination for a Christian group to insist their leaders be a Christian.
Last August, the city of Fredericksburg, Virginia denied the housing tax exemption of a Christian couple who serve as college ministers. The husband and wife live in a parsonage provided by their church, and they minister full-time to students at the University of Mary Washington. City officials believe that since the couple does not work in a church, but on a campus, they should not get the tax exemption.
In late July, a Christian woman was beheaded and dumped onto the street in front of horrified eyewitness in a residential neighborhood in Shakopee, Minnesota. The suspect arrested for the horrific crime is a Muslim man who is also an illegal alien. Police say the suspect often carried a machete with him as he walked around town.
In Oregon, dozens of black-clad Antifa militants assaulted Christians, including children, who were attending a prayer and worship event in Portland. Local police looked on as the Antifa members threw “flash bombs” into the crowd and pushed the sound equipment being used for the event into the Williamette River. One of the members sprayed a congregant with pepper spray and shouted, “Where is your God now?”
A conservative Christian organization’s request to fly the Christian flag was rejected last month by the city of Boston. The rejection came even though numerous other private groups had successfully applied to wave flags representing sovereign countries and nonreligious causes. There are three 83-foot-tall flagpoles outside Boston City Hall, two of which always fly the U.S. flag and the state flag. The third usually flies the city flag, but citizens can petition to raise other flags temporarily. City records show that since 2005, Boston approved hundreds of requests to fly other flags – including the LGBTQ rainbow flag.
These are just a few Bible prophecy headline news stories: that show how the devil is working against God’s people. I didn’t mention how churches are still being closed due to COVID, but massage parlors and medical marijuana dispensaries are deemed “essential” and allowed to remain open. I could have discussed the laws that are being formulated to systematically eliminate God’s Holy Word from all venues in our public arenas. I could have communicated how a drag queen can read filth to your children in a public library, but you can’t read the Bible there. There are hundreds of instances I could have cited.
All around the country today Christians are being persecuted, abused, discriminated against, and even martyred for adhering to their faith in Jesus Christ. Freedom of religion is of the past, intolerance toward Christians is the order of the day. Our own government is involved in silencing the Christian’s voice in one way or another. No, they won’t admit it. None-the-less, they are hard at it and won’t be satisfied until their satanic mission is complete.
Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego did not bend or bow to evil pressures, or influences. They stood on God’s inerrant word. They were bold in their response to the king. They knew God would see them through whatever evil obstacle was placed before them. Believers can take heart in knowing that many Christian brothers and sisters have gone through countless trials and hardships, but God, through His Holy Spirit, went with them through their adversity and He will be right beside us, too.
In the times when we’re urged to give in to pressure, we don’t have to be afraid. We may not always know how or when God will help us, but we know He is with us. He will give us the strength to stay faithful to Him through every “fire” we endure. Let me encourage you to hold on to God’s promises. Be as steadfast as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were in their time and don’t let any evil king sway you in your beliefs. Our only King is King Jesus, and we follow His Word for our lives.