Who likes difficulties? I certainly don’t, in fact I avoid them like I try to avoid getting sick! Quite often though we do encounter trials in our lives and as we experience them we have a choice. Either our character will gain strength or bitterness will gain control over us.

In the last article on Daniel we saw how he and his friends stood for righteousness with very positive results. But as we carry on in the book of Daniel, we realize that although the Babylonian king was sympathetic towards their faith, it did not change his heart completely.

In Daniel chapter 3, King Nebuchadnezzar makes himself an image out of gold that is described as 90 feet high and 9 feet wide. Quite an accomplishment for a time when the construction and forging of metals was not an easy task and would have required a lot of manpower. In the previous chapter, Daniel had interpreted the dream for the king and he had described his kingdom as one of gold but the ensuing kingdoms would be of weaker materials. What the king did not understand was that Daniel’s interpretation was a prophetic statement not just about his kingdom but of future kingdoms and events. The king in his shortsightedness and ego decided that he would make a statement by building this massive statue and force the citizens of Babylon to worship him, and making it out of gold would show that his kingdom would be an enduring reign. The instructions are found chapter in 3 and verse 5, “As soon as you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and all kinds of music, you must fall down and worship the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar  has set up.” The consequences were clearly stated in the following verse, “Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.”

The three young men, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego mentioned in this account most likely were not the only ones that chose not to bow down at the prescribed moment; I believe among these were Daniel but for some reason he was not included in the accusation. When a Persian king issued a decree the words were binding even by the king himself, he was unable to overturn the decision. It was called the law of the Medes and the Persians. As these young men made their choice, they were seen and accused by their own peers and this was brought before King Nebuchadnezzar. In verses 16-18 they make their declaration to the king and say; “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O kin, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up”. Their confidence was in God and they were willing to risk their lives for the glory and reputation of God. They had seen God work before in their lives, they were sure He would work again.

As the story unfolds they are placed in a furnace seven times hotter then the usual temperature and was possibly the same unit that was used to mold and forge the statue. When they are placed in the furnace, the soldiers who took them died in the process but they were left unscathed. As the king and his cohorts gazed into the furnace they saw that they were accompanied by someone else and the king described him as “a son of the gods”. As we study this morning in the sermon we will ask ourselves some questions.

1. What is the distinction between a trial that is in-keeping with God’s will for us and when that trial is induced by ourselves?

2. How did God provide His reassurance to them while they were in the fiery furnace? How does that apply to you and me in our lives?

By: Pastor David Jones