Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
The story is of three Hebrew children, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; also known by their Chaldean names of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
The fiery furnace was a place that was kept hot 24 hours a day for the cremation of the dead.
I. Standing firm begins before you face the fiery furnace
Daniel 1:8-16 The Chaldeans were gluttons and drunks- they offered their meat as a sacrifice to their gods and their wine was always poured out before it was partaken as a sacrifice to the gods. Daniel and the three Hebrews did not purpose in their hearts that they would not eat so much of the kings meat to make them sick or drink so much of the wine to make them drunk. Instead, they demanded an absolute abstention. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego stood firm when facing the fiery furnace because they did nothing to compromise their relationship with God.
a) They were away from their parents and their families.
Some of you will soon leave (in a year or two) You will be away from your father and mother and the influence of this church. You must choose now how you will live. If you wait until the moment of temptation you will fall. Sin is too alluring; temptation is too strong to wait. You must decide today how you will respond. You must set your eyes upon God and develop an increasing love affair with Him. Some of you are single again must chose now how you will respond when placed in a situation with someone of the opposite sex. Psalms 78:9 they had the right equipment, but they had not determined to live and therefore they turned back. I have seen numerous people turn back.
b) They had to say no even under pressure.
Learn to say no, even under the pressure of the King. It has been said that character is who you are when no one else is looking.
Studdert-Kennedy, an Anglican minister, and chaplain in the first World War, wrote from the trenches of France to his son: “The first prayer I want my son to learn to say for me is not ‘God keep Daddy safe’ but ‘God make Daddy brave, and if he has hard things to do, make him strong to do them.’ Life and death don’t matter, my son. Right and wrong do. Daddy dead is Daddy still, but Daddy dishonored before God is something awful, too bad for words.”
II. Cool down before you have a fiery rage
Nebuchadnezzar’s decision was motivated by anger. His face contorted, he was filled with rage and anger. He was in this “heat” and he threw out all reason and kindness (he had kindness with Daniel) and he was filled with fury. How many times have you or I responded out of rage and said things before we should have. We shoot off at the mouth before we should. His rage is evidenced by the fact that he heated the furnace seven times hotter than usual. The furnace was kept hot for cremation.
Your decision might lead to difficulties and trials initially. But, it is are worth the trouble to be on the side of God. Martin Luther, on his way to the Diet of Worms to appear before King Charles V and the Roman Prelate and all the princes said, “My cause shall be commended to the Lord for He lives and reigns who preserved the three children in the furnace of the Babylonian king. If He is unwilling to preserve me, my life is a small thing compared with Christ. Expect anything of me except flight or recantation. I will not flee, much less recant. So may the Lord Jesus strengthen me.” He did not say, Lord deliver me, or Lord make it easy for me. What he did say was, “As I face what I know I ought to do, may God strengthen me, whether I live or die, delivered or not.” As he stood before the king and made his confession of faith, he ended it with this ultimate commitment: “Here I stand. I can do no other. So help me God.” The three Hebrews said, but if not, we will believe in God just the same.
Instead of their death being the more grievous (the cloths would make them suffer a little longer), their deliverance was more majestic.
III. Fires will come, but God is with you in the fire
James and John came up to Jesus and wanted to sit at the right and left hand of Christ, Jesus said, “You don’t know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup which I drink and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They said yes nonchalantly. They had no idea that it was fire. James was beheaded by Herod Agrippa and John was exposed to death by privation and starvation on a lonely rock island called Patmos. If you are a child of God you will, at times, be thrust into the fiery furnace so get ready. This is the trial by which God’s children live in a vile world.
Acts 14:22; John 16:33 We will have tribulations. They will often seem seven times hotter than the trial that non-Christians face on this earth.
They were not hurt, felt no pain or uneasiness in the least in the flame. An angel, some people think it was Christ, was in the flame. Sometimes we go through the fiery furnaces of life, but God is always with us. God was with Daniel in the lion’s den (6:22); Christ was with Stephen standing up, God is with us in the valley of the shadow of death, when they persecute us, they persecute Him (Isa 63:9).
In the pharmacy I was robbed at gun point. Tell the story. There was no fear. The presence of God was so real. My mind was clear. Even after it was over, I felt no fear. God was with me during this fiery furnace.
IV. God is the Most High God
Sooner or later, you must deal with this issue. The Chaldeans worshipped the fire as an image of the sun. In restraining the fire, God put contempt not only on their king but also upon their god. Our God is the only consuming fire (Heb 12:29). You must decide what you are going to do with this Great God (Phil 2:10).