Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego (Daniel 3:16-18)
In Daniel 3 we read about three men Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These men, together with Daniel, had been appointed to authority positions in the province of Babylon (Daniel 2:49). They were godly Jews to whom God had given "knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom" (Daniel 1:17), and whom He had furthered to these authority positions. Because of their position, they would probably enjoy many things that not only the Jews but also most of the natives did not enjoy. They were certainly blessed people. However, one day the situation changed. Nebuchadnezzar, their boss, had made a gold image asking everyone to worship it. All in the kingdom had to worship this image and if someone disobeyed, he would be burned in the den of fire. Thus, Shadrah, Meshah and Abednego faced a challenge: Would they follow the king's command, defending their lives, their blessings, their families, their positions, and then probably asking "sorry" from God, or would they obey to His Word, never bowing to this idol? Daniel 3:8-12 tells us that they finally chose the latter. Thus, they were brought before the king, and though he was very angry with them, he decided to give them one more opportunity: "But if you do not worship, you shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you from my hands?" (Daniel 3:15), he told them. Then, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied:
"Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego answered and said to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up"
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had determined that they would by no means worship this idol. Though they knew that God could deliver them, they did not consider it as given. They obeyed God unconditionally, and even if He did not deliver them ("But if NOT") they would still not worship the king's idols ("let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up"). As Daniel 3:28 says: They had delivered their bodies to worship Him. Their reply made the king even angrier and the den even hotter. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were immediately cast there. Yet, something unexpected made the king and his counselors astonished: instead of being burned instantaneously, these people were walking in the den, not alone but together with someone whose form was "like a son of God" (Daniel 3:25)! Immediately, the king commanded to take them out. His response is recorded in verses 28-30:
"Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying, "Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who sent His angel and delivered His servants who trusted in Him, and they have frustrated the king's word, and yielded their bodies, that they should not serve nor worship any god except their own God! Therefore I make a decree that any people, nation or language which speaks anything amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made an ash heap; because there is no other God who can deliver like this. Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the province of Babylon"
Sometimes, what we focus in passages like these is the blessings and the deliverance of God. And yes they should have our attention. Yet what I would like to also point out today, is the obedience of those three men, and especially the fact that it was unconditional. Really, these people would not obey God only if He delivered them but also if He did not deliver them. Turning this to us, we should obey God unconditionally, because we have decided to fully submit ourselves to Him. It is unconditional submission that is the source of our obedience. Of course God can deliver, yet our obedience is not to be based on this or on any other condition.