In Kid’s Church, whenever we tell stories, we often say that whatever story it is that week is ‘one of my favourites’ or ‘a really good story’. This is the truth because (Kid min. secret about to be revealed) we usually pick stories we like! And I want to think about one of them briefly today, but this is perhaps my favourite Old Testament story, if it’s not top then it’s in my top 3 for sure! It’s the story of three guys and their encounter with a king; a king with a really, really bad temper. It’s the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. You can read the story in Daniel 3 or watch it here
Basically, the story is of three Jewish guys, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who were living in the province, the area, of Babylon. God’s people, the Israelites, had been taken over by the Babylonians and King Nebuchadnezzar was on the throne. King Nebby was possibly the greatest King of the Babylonian empire (which was from 626-539B.C.), but he was also a horrible person. He treated people badly, killed thousands of men and women and destroyed many buildings. But there was something else that you need to know about this King, he thought of himself as a god. He wanted people to pray to him and worship him. And to help people worship him, King Nebuchadnezzar built a giant gold statue of himself. It was 90 feet tall! That’s 27.5 meters or about the height of 4 houses stacked on top of each other! It was MASSIVE! That wasn’t all. When the King got his band to play music, everyone had to stop what they were doing, bow down and worship the statue he had made. But Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused to worship the statue because of their belief in God. They knew that there was only one God and their God was the one, true God. King Nebby was furious but gave them a chance to change their minds but they didn’t, saying what I think may be one of the most powerful things in the Bible.
16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego answered the king. They said, “Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves to you. 17 You can throw us into the blazing furnace. The God we serve is able to save us from the furnace and your power. If he does this, it is good. 18 But even if God does not save us, we want you, our king, to know this: We will not serve your gods. We will not worship the gold statue you have set up.” Daniel 3:16-18 ICB
Wow! That is faith!
Martin Luther King, the same guy who helped lead the civil rights movement in the USA, once talked about how there is an ‘if’ faith and a ‘though’ faith. An ‘if faith’ is a bit like this: ‘IF everything goes well, IF I live a happy life, IF I never suffer, IF I’m successful at school or work, IF God will do…, then I will have faith, belief, in God’. There are loads of people in the Bible and throughout history who are like this. You have faith because of something you have seen or experienced. In that quote from Daniel 3, we see this as the three men say if God saves us, we will worship Him (Daniel 3:17).
But then there is a ‘though faith’ which is like this. ‘EVEN THOUGH things go wrong, I will have faith in God. EVEN THOUGH life is hard, I will have faith in God. EVEN THOUGH I am going through really bad things right now, I’m suffering badly, and it feels like I’m in the middle of a fiery furnace, I will have faith in God.’ This faith stands firm EVEN THOUGH there would be every reason for it to crumble away. And this is the faith that Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego have. Daniel 3:18 says, ‘But even if God does not save us, we want you, our king, to know this: We will not serve your gods. We will not worship the gold statue you have set up.’
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego are so confident in their faith in God they’re able to say that He will save them, but even if He doesn’t, their faith and belief in God, and their desire to do what He says and to worship Him alone, is more important than saving their lives to worship a greedy, self-obsessed king.
What type of faith do you have? Is it an ‘if’ faith where you’re reliant upon God to act first so that you can trust in Him more? Or is it a ‘though’ faith? Even though there is a chance that God won’t show up and save me from this, I’m going to trust Him anyway.
The story goes on from here and, spoiler alert, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego get thrown into the fire. The king and his guards look into the fire and see four men walking around when they only threw three in! There’s lots of arguments about who the fourth person is. Some say it’s Jesus, others, an Angel of God which basically means God himself, and others still someone/thing else. Either way, God is in the fire with them. You see, we can go through things that are really tough, I’ve had my fair share and I’m sure you have too. But what I know is this. God is with us always, in the good and the bad. He stands with us in the fire, in the tough situations, and helps us get through. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego later stepped out of the furnace untouched by the flames, not even smelling of smoke! Faith in God saved them and saves us too when we find life hard.
Maybe something in this has touched you and maybe you want to pray into it a bit more. If so, pray in whatever way you want to but perhaps listen to the song Another in the Fire by Hillsong United and just listen to what God wants to say to you today, and pray that God would help grow your faith today, because we all need it!