Our Ultimate Deliverance - Daniel 3:8-18
The story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego is a very familiar one. As a result, we sometimes fail to appreciate its historical and doctrinal significance. These three young men were taken captive by the Babylonians. They were educated in the ways of this foreign power and appointed over its affairs.
In Daniel 1:7, we find that the Hebrew or original names of these three young men, respectively, were: (1) Hananiah, which in Hebrew means, "the Lord is gracious;" (2) Mishael, which means, "who is like the Lord;" and, (3) Azariah, which means, "God is my help." Why did the parents of these young men name them as such? And why did the Babylonians change their names?
Observe how that these three young men stood their ground along with Daniel, the beloved of God. They determined in their hearts to please God, despite their being under a foreign power (Daniel 1). Given the meaning of their names and the resoluteness of their hearts and actions, one cannot help but think of the kind of family from which they had come. Could it be that they were nurtured and trained in God's word and ways? In Daniel 3, even on the pain of having their bodies burned alive, they would not break God's commandments. They would rather give up their safety and power as high ranking officials. They are convinced that as their God is the only God whom they should worship, they will not bow down to an idol, even if it meant an agonizing death by fire.
Notice first how Nebuchadnezzar gives these 3 men another "chance" to bow down. Notice next the pride (and ignorance) of Nebuchadnezzar who said, "who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?"
Now recall what had happened to these men as youths. They beheld the destruction of their homeland. They experienced being torn violently away from their families. They were taken as captives. These trials could have shaken their faith in God who did not deliver them from the cruel hands of the Babylonians. These trials, though, instead of stripping them of their faith, strengthened them. They, indeed, were grounded in the truth of God's sovereignty, for they said to the king, "our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up."
We all know the outcome of the story. The three men were thrown into the fiery furnace, but not a hair on their heads was singed. Not even the smell of fire was upon them. The Babylonians saw 3 men thrown into the fire, but four walked unharmed in its midst. The Lord delivered them.
As we start this new year, let us remember the example of these three men. Their service to God did not depend on whether God will deliver them. They were grounded in the knowledge that God is Sovereign. He is God. They determined in their hearts to honor him, no matter the consequences. After all, as ones who have been redeemed, we know of the cross of Christ-- how that the greatest tragedy of all resulted to our ultimate deliverance. And as ones who have been set free from sin, we can suffer for Christ's sake. Let us take up our cross and follow Him.