This was a conversation between my daughter and granddaughter after church on Sunday:
Jacelyn: "We learned about Shadrach, Meshach and....some other guy."
Mom: "What was the other guys name?"
Jacelyn: thinking really hard.... "I really can't remember, Mom. But I think his name was Fredrick."
Well, that third man had a hard name to remember. No doubt, he wished throughout his life his name would be something simple like Fredrick. But that wasn't his name. It was Abednego.
All three of these men were involved in what was one of the most exciting stories from the Old Testament. Their story all started during the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar, a king whose major problem was something we call PRIDE. (He thought he was a "big shot.")
The king had ruled in such a way that he found favor with the people, but not necessarily the favor of God. In fact, Nebuchadnezzar was so well liked by his countrymen, the decision was made, following a dream, to erect a huge statue in his honor. I know that word "huge" can mean lots of things, but this statue was 90 feet tall. What an honor for a king that had served the people.
Then came the next edict of the king. He commanded all people to bow down to the new statue, showing their honor and allegiance to the him. That might not sound like a bad thing until you consider it would be a violation of God's commandment, "You shall have no other gods before me." So while everyone else was bowing to the king, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, faithful to the will of God, remained standing.
The king was enraged and ordered his soldiers to tie these three men and prepare the furnace extra hot and toss them in. The Bible lets us know the heat from the furnace was so hot, the soldiers, while putting in these three, died from the heat. But looking into the furnace the king could see Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego moving around in the fire, unharmed. Not only that, when the king looked in the furnace, he said he saw a fourth man in the furnace, moving around with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.
The king had a change of mind and heart, as he recognized the power of God delivering them from the furnace, and that fourth man had the likeness of a son of the gods. The king was now praising God for the faith of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, an eventually elevated their positions in Babylon. Read the story in Daniel 2 and 3 to catch all the details.
The lesson for us is simple. It is so easy for us to follow the crowd. Even these three servants of God could have bowed to the king, just to save their own hide. But they, too, knew real deliverance can only be ours, when we are faithful to the One, True God.