Thrown In The Fire - A Brief Study on Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego
* all [bracketed] words in Scripture verses are mine *
History is full of accounts of one nation raiding another and taking all they see. The poem to follow is such an account. It is the story of three Hebrew boys that suffered because the kingdom of Babylon came and swept the whole country clean. Killing most, bringing back slaves and servants, goods, and anything else they could find. It must have been a harrowing experience to have been there and seen the bloodshed and suffer the hardship of being removed from your home. But these three boys suffered even more because of their convictions and belief in their God. This is their story:
Our nation was wicked, God told us so
My dad said to pray, for the people we know,
The people were hard, and refused to be wise
Everyone doing, what was right in their eyes,
My dad loved the Lord, and that's why it's so hard
To be away from my home, so very, very far,
Father always said, "Son, be ready to stand
For God and His Word, and to be a good man."
We stood by the Lord, and obeyed all His law
We held nothing back, confessed every flaw,
But the nation was evil, God's judgment then came
God tried to tell us, that our sin was to blame,
It happened- a day that was like any other
Dad in the field, with my six older brothers,
Without any warning, the soldiers were there
While dad was plowing, and mom combing her hair,
We finished a whole, house-full of chores
While old uncle Simon, was sitting there bored,
When all at once we heard, the hard thumping sound
Of the hooves of the horses, pounding the ground,
And screams from the village, were heard in the air
Metal striking metal, the sound everywhere,
A crash broke the front door, right off of the jamb
A soldier strode in, in his arms my pet lamb
That he killed, and threw to another man there
Then turned and killed uncle, right there in the chair,
"Take that one!" he pointed to me, with voice so gruff
"Seems fit for a king." And if that weren't enough.
He laughed as he ran, his sword through my mother
"He's all that is here. I see there's no other."
My father and brothers were taken in chains
And led away captive, so nothing remained,
The horrible numbness, and shock ebbed away
I've not seen my homeland, since that awful day,
I was taken captive, with others like me
I seemed to have value to them, don't you see.
I met three other boys and we were soon friends
Hananiah and Mishael, pals to the end,
Yes, we were three of a kind, and don't you know
They would say, "There's Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego,"
That other one, Daniel, did watch us with care
No matter what happened, we knew he was there,
He helped to straighten out, the food that we eat
We began to eat *pulse, and not the king's meat,
But my heart beat for home, it's smells and it's tastes
Yet, my family's all gone, my home is laid waste
I still hear his voice, as my dad read the scrolls
No matter what happens, or how life unfolds,
I and my friends, have vowed to do right
No matter what happens, or how dark the night,
Soon came a test, of the vow we had made
On a day that was, a hundred and ten in the shade,
We were in the court, and serving the king
When we saw the workmen, making the thing,
It was in the courtyard, and we saw it grow tall
An image of a man, before which to fall
Down and worship. The thought sickened me!
How could the king ask it? Couldn't the man see
That worshipping him, and his idol was wrong?
He did not, we were ordered to bow to that god
Or be burnt in a furnace, for refusing to laud,
The sun was shining, every official wore smiles
The gold of the idol, shone brightly for miles,
I can't say the easy thing, wouldn't have been just be to bow
But we looked at each other, and remembered our vow,
At the sound of the music, all bowed - to the last man
But the power of our vow, caused us three to stand,
Now the king was caught up, in self-worship and greed
"Everyone but you boys, my orders do heed!
Dare you defy, your king in this way?
At the sound of the music, you'll worship this day!
Or be burned to a crisp in a furnice - seven times hotter
And your ashes dragged off, to fertilize the fodder!"
So I answered him then, and said, "It may be
That God let's you burn us, but you will not see
Us bow to you, nor your idol of gold
But God can deliver us, if the truth be told."
Playing the music again, changed not a thing
But to increase his rage, and tell them to bring
Ropes to bind us, our hands and our feet
And heat up the furnace, with seven times heat,
As the soldiers took us, to the edge of the pit
We felt the heat, from the burning of it,
But the closer we got, it cooler it felt
We saw soldiers burn up, on us not a welt,
We fell in the pit, and we saw by our sides
The Son of God walking, and smiling besides!
The ropes burned away, yet the fire didn't burn
The king found that day, a lesson he'd learned,
The test of our faith, was solid and true
You know - any place feels like home, when God is with you.
* Pulse- a word used to describe vegetable matter fed to the cattle and livestock. It was the inedible leftovers like hay and other grain stalks and corn husks and the like. It was not "people food" in any sense of the word. To subsist on only pulse (under normal circumstances) would be impossible.
This true story from the Bible book of Daniel about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednago was full of lessons from which we all can learn. Three young men, barely in their teens, were put into a situation where almost anyone would have caved to the will of the king. To be tossed in a fire - the very idea is the stuff of nightmares. Not all that many days past they had seen their mother and uncle slain with a sword while the soldier doing the killing laughed. They saw their father and brothers chained and led off. Then they get to this very strange land where they did not know any of the language and were given things that were considered throw away animals, unclean, considered abominations to eat. But God was watching out for them. Faithful Daniel was there and was used of God to speak on their behalf. He got the official that cared for them to say that they could eat pulse which is the throw-away plant material that was fed to the cattle (corn husks, wheat stalks etc). Daniel knew that the eunuch would object at first because he would have to answer to the king if their health failed. So he proposed a test to prove their God was strong enough to make them healthier using these non-food items for them to eat. But the very idea that one could survive, let alone excel by only subsisting on pulse, would take a miracle of their God. The eunuch may have seen this as a way to further humiliate Israel. If the Jews ate pulse and suffered from lack of nutrition, the eunuch would say, "See this was a test of their God and now their God is humiliated and proven weak." And if they became healthier, he would say, "I found a way to feed them that costs nothing and it is my ability to care for them that makes them look so good." He would come out ahead either way, in his mind. God did bless them with health for that obedience to His Law.
Many people try to say that they were healthier because they became vegetarians, that isn't true for the pulse they were given had very little nutrients in it and would have been nearly impossible to digest.
The eunuch that was put in charge of these "servants-in-training" to the king was amazed at them and how healthy they looked. Maybe after God had proven Himself to the eunuch that He could sustain them, the eunuch would get them some fruit or a few familiar vegetables. But for the most part they ate as did the cattle.
The boys decided to take an official stand vowed to obey God at all times, no matter what. A vow was not what we have made it in America today. We see promises as agreements waiting to be broken. We do not approach it as men of faith approached it in Israel in those days. Theirs was a covenant agreement and covenants were taken very seriously. This exile was punishment for the nation's sin and when these boys took this vow, they were immediately tested by Satan. Along came a plot to create a situation where if any Jew did not obey the customs of Babylon, they would be exposed and consequently eliminated. I don't think it was a coincidence that it was idolatry that was offered. It was primarily because of idolatry that the nation of Israel was in Babylon in the first place as they had turned to false gods made with hands and had turned away from the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel. When the music played and all of Israel present bowed down, only these three did not. What happened next would be a lesson for sinning Israel that obedience is possible, and it would have served to cement in their mind that this is why they were being punished, for disobedience, for idolatry. Where Daniel was at this time, we don't know, possibly was not present in the account.
Imagine being that young, seeing that much hardship and still standing like men of God in the face of a whole nation that bowed to an image of gold. Then to have the soldiers grab you and hear their laughs and jeers about how good you would smell as you cooked, or other quips at your expense. They must have thought, "well, this is it. We're going to die." But as the account relates, the fire never got near them. It was so hot, being stoked with seven times the sulfur normally added to the fuel to heat it, it burned up the soldiers as they pushed them down into what was probably an in-ground pit.
The king could overlook the scene, of course, most likely from a palace balcony, and from that vantage, would have been able to relish every minute of his enemy's agony as they became crispy pieces of charred ember. But this time when he looked over the proceedings not only did he see his mistake in putting that much more sulfur on the fire, but he saw a fourth form in the blaze. This form must have looked far different from the boys in there, who were also not burning. The king described the form as looking like the "Son of God." Well, he was right. Theologians call these manifestations of God, christophenies. It was God, the one that would put on human flesh centuries later and be nailed to a Roman cross.
These boys met the Son of God in the fire, but we don't have to be thrown into a burning fiery furnace to meet Christ. We can turn to Him in our hearts and He will come into us and dwell with us forever.This story was written all those years ago so that God may speak to hearts today and let each man know that He loves them and will care for them as He cared for those three boys.
"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine [for all teaching leading to salvation]." (2 Timothy 3:16)
If you have never thought to turn your heart to Jesus, it is not a hard thing to do. I know that God has tugged at your heart over and over to get you to understand that you need a Savior.
"Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12)
Jesus, came to earth as a man born of a virgin and sinless. He bled and died on Calvary's cross and then was put in a grave with a stone rolled in front of it. But just as He said, He rose from the dead on the third day.
"And it happened, as they were greatly perplexed about this, that behold, two man stood by them in shining garments [these were angels]. Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, 'Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, saying, 'The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.'" (Luke 24:4-7)
"For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures." (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)
Do you believe this? If you do and are willing to follow Jesus instead of your own sin you may pray a prayer and ask Him into your heart. You can pray something like this:
Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner that deserves nothing from You but I believe You died for me and paid for my sin on Calvary's cross. Please Jesus forgive my sin and save me. I know You died and were raised again and I now turn from my sinful life and turn to You as the only way of salvation. Come into my life and be the Lord and Master of my life. I pray this in Your holy name Jesus. Amen.