It sounds like the start of a bad joke… “Three men, a king, and an idol walk into a bar…” But this is a story of faith, belief, trust, and loyalty in spite of overwhelming odds and uncertainty. We can learn a lot from this story.
In the book of Daniel we find king Nebuchadnezzer building a big gold statue and commanding everyone to worship it. It was probably a statue of himself, though that’s not clear from the scripture. It was set up in the middle of the city of Babylon. And the command was for everyone at a certain time to bow down and worship it. We know of three men at least who refused to bow.
They were captive Jews, taken years ago as teens or young men from their homeland, but holding to their beliefs and their ways as much as they could under a foreign ruler. But their belief in the one true God, the Most High God, did not allow them to worship any other God or idol. So when the time came, these men refused to give their worship to this gold statue.
Of course when the king heard of it he was furious. He commanded the men to be bound and thrown into a firey furnace. He said, “No God can save you from this!” And the men said, “Our God is able to save us! But even if he doesn’t we won’t worship your idol.” And of course that made the king even more furious. He stoked the fire up so hot that the soldiers commanded to throw the men into the fire were themselves killed by the heat and the flames.
The story could end there, and we could learn so much. There are lessons about not giving in to peer pressure, about not being conformed to the world around us, about surrounding yourself with like minded friends, about standing up for what you believe is right and living to a higher standard even when it costs us a lot.
But the story doesn’t end there! God does deliver them from the flames. They come out without a hair singed or soot on their clothes. They don’t even smell like smoke. The only thing that got burned up was the ropes that bound them. And best of all there was a physical presence of God with them in the fire! The king saw it and was amazed. God was with them all along, but it took the fire to reveal his presence.
What faith these men had! To say that even if God didn’t deliver them they would still believe, still trust, still worship the one true God alone. What an example to us. We don’t know how God is going to work out our problems, or even if they will work out the way we expect at all. But we must remain true to him.
So let’s learn from their example and keep our faith unwavering. Remember that God is with us. When we honor him and remain faithful and true, he is faithful. He said he would never leave us or forsake us. He is with us, though sometimes it takes the fire for his presence to be revealed.