I have to admit, I KNOW the story of the fiery furnace.
King Neb sets up a statue, tells folks to worship him, folks who don't like the Jews tell the king that important Jews don't follow his commands in this manner, and king Neb takes those Jews and throws them into a really hot fire. God saves them. The end.
ARGH!!!.... Realized today, that just because one knows a story doesn't mean that one can't continue to refine ones knowledge of said story. This story comes from Daniel 3.
1King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, whose height was sixty cubits and its breadth six cubits. He set it up on the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon.Then he had that statue dedicated.
He then made the decision that everyone was to worship this statue and set forth the punishment for not doing so - death by fiery furnace.
4And the herald proclaimed aloud, "You are commanded, O peoples, nations, and languages, 5that when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, you are to fall down and worship the golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. 6And whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace." 7Therefore, as soon as all the peoples heard the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, all the peoples, nations, and languages fell down and worshiped the golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.
So, people being who they are (having a good sense of self preservation) they decided the bowing before this statue was better than dying. BUT not everyone did so.
8Therefore at that time certain Chaldeans came forward and maliciously accused the Jews. 9They declared to King Nebuchadnezzar, "O king, live forever! 10You, O king, have made a decree, that every man who hears the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, shall fall down and worship the golden image. 11And whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast into a burning fiery furnace. 12There are certain Jews whom you have appointed over the affairs of the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These men, O king, pay no attention to you; they do not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up."
King Neb was NOT impressed. He actually got VERY angry about it and called Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego before him.
14Nebuchadnezzar answered and said to them, "Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up?He told them to be ready to worship or prepare to die. He also asked "And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?"I have to admit, I like their response
16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17If this be so, 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. 18But 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 won't serve your gods. We won't worship your golden image. Our God will deliver us.
King Neb got so angry at this response that he had the fire stoked seven times hotter than normal. It was indeed so hot that the men chosen to throw Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego into the fire died from the heat.Think about that for a moment. This fire was so hot that just throwing people into it could kill you. And yet...... Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego did not die. Not only that, they were seen walking around in it. Clothes on. Ropes burnt off! Go figure that one eh? Makes the following more real doesn't it?
24Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, "Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?" They answered and said to the king, "True, O king." 25He answered and said, "But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods."
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were called from out of the fire.
26Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the door of the burning fiery furnace; he declared, "Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here!" Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out from the fire.Everyone gathered could see that they had come to no harm, in fact, they didn't even SMELL of smoke. Can you imagine it? I'm reading this and I am just amazed at the power of God. A fire hot enough to kill people just doing their job, and they come of it as clean as a whistle. No fire, no smoke, no damage, no smell, no nothing...just good health! God's presence was right there with them.
28Nebuchadnezzar answered and said, "Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set aside the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God. 29Therefore I make a decree: Any people, nation, or language that speaks anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be torn limb from limb, and their houses laid in ruins, for there is no other god who is able to rescue in this way."King Neb recognized the power of God at work and respected it. These three men, in their faith, enabled their people to worship God as they aught to.
At the end of it all, "the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the province of Babylon."Isn't that just amazing? Just amazing the power of God at work in the lives of his people.