Date: Wednesday, Mar 29
Contributor: Christopher Haack
Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods and you do not worship the golden statue that I have set up? Now if you are ready when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, drum, and entire musical ensemble to fall down and worship the statue that I have made, well and good. But if you do not worship, you shall immediately be thrown into a furnace of blazing fire, and who is the god that will deliver you out of my hands?”
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to present a defense to you in this matter. If our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire and out of your hand, O king, let him deliver us. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods and we will not worship the golden statue that you have set up.”
Then Nebuchadnezzar was so filled with rage against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego that his face was distorted. He ordered the furnace heated up seven times more than was customary, and ordered some of the strongest guards in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and to throw them into the furnace of blazing fire.
Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up quickly. He said to his counselors, “Was it not three men that we threw bound into the fire?” They answered the king, “True, O king.” He replied, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the middle of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the fourth has the appearance of a god.” Nebuchadnezzar then approached the door of the furnace of blazing fire and said, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!” So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out from the fire. And the satraps, the prefects, the governors, and the king’s counselors gathered together and saw that the fire had not had any power over the bodies of those men; the hair of their heads was not singed, their tunics were not harmed, and not even the smell of fire came from them.
Nebuchadnezzar said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants who trusted in him. They disobeyed the king’s command and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God.
This week I have been reflecting on the story of Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego and King Nebuchadnezzar. And as hard as I tried between the four of them I kept finding myself identifying with old King Nebuchadnezzar. Not because I think the King was remotely correct or legitimized in the course of action he took, but being a person of privilege often I have found myself challenged or more precisely threatened by a point of view or life experience that is different than my own. Even in my professional life beyond the church as a Manager I really don’t like to be seen as somehow wrong, I can’t help but feel in some perverse way to be wrong is a show of weakness or vulnerability. Not very PC of me is it, and there are times I really struggle with that.
What gives me hope in this story however, is that even in the flames of my stupidity and ignorance there is still the opportunity for growth. You see, when I was thinking about this lesson I realized that God protected his faithful while still not condemning the ignorant and wrathful Nebuchadnezzar. The king took the chance to be wrong, be vulnerable and grow.
Thanks be to God that our God is a loving and forgiving God. All we need to do is to take that opportunity to be humble, vulnerable and seek a closer relationship to them.