TEXT: Daniel 3:1-30
ONCE, a long time ago, there was a king with a big name, Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar liked himself very much. He thought there was no one else in all the world who was so great and wonderful as he was. He had built many great buildings in his land and he even had his name put on some of the big stone blocks in the street. He wanted everyone to notice him and his name.
One time Nebuchadnezzar had a big, big, very tall make-believe god made. He called it an image. It might have been made to look like him. It was made of bright, shiny, yellow gold and was so high it could be seen for a long way. It was as high as a tall building. Just think how it must have sparkled when the sun shone on it.
Nebuchadnezzar had this image put up in a big field so there would be nothing to hide it. The field was near the place where the king lived. He did not love God. He just loved himself and wanted all the people to love him best, too.
Nebuchadnezzar said that everyone in the whole land had to pray to this make-believe god. He sent men over the country to tell all the king’s helpers to come to the place where the new god was built.
All the king’s helpers came. There were lots of them and they made a big crowd standing there near the golden image. This was to be the first time the people were to kneel down and say a prayer to this make-believe god that the king had made.
There were three men who worked for the king who loved the true God with all their hearts — the same God whom we love. They knew it was wrong to kneel down to a make-believe god. They knew that the God in Heaven had said not to bow down before a god that a man made. That is a sin, and these three men did not want to sin. They came that day because the king had sent for them. All the people were standing very quietly and a man who helped the king called out so everyone could hear. “The king says that you must all pray to this god. Some music will play and as soon as you hear the music you must kneel down before it. If you do not kneel and pray to this god, you will be thrown into a furnace with a big fire in it.”
Even if some of the people did not want to kneel before that golden image they were afraid not to, because they did not want the king to throw them into a furnace of fire. They were afraid of him.
The three men who loved God were not afraid. One was called Shadrach, one Meshach, and one Abednego. They prayed to God in Heaven and they would not pray to any make-believe, false god no matter who said to do it. Even if they were put into a furnace they still would be true to their God. They would not kneel down in front of the golden image.
All the people were waiting for the music to play so they would know when to kneel. Listen, the orchestra is playing now. That was the signal to kneel, and bow their heads to the image god.
Did everyone bow down? No! The three men who loved God stood straight and tall. Some bad men told the king on them. “They did not kneel and bow, King Nebuchadnezzar. They just stood there.”
My, how mad the king was. He shouted very loudly for someone to bring those three young men to him right away. He told the three, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that he would give them one more chance before he would put them into a furnace with a hot fire. He would have the music play again and this time they had better do what he told them to do.
The three young men said, “Our God can save us. But no matter what happens to us, we will not pray to your god.” They felt as if they would rather die and go to Heaven than to do a big sin such as kneeling down to a man-made god.
The music was played again but no, the three men still loved their God in Heaven, and tall and straight they stood.
Nebuchadnezzar was so mad! He had a fire made in the big furnace. He kept telling his servants to make it hotter and hotter and hotter. Some of the strongest, biggest soldiers in the king’s army came and tied Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego with ropes and then they threw them right into the hot, fiery furnace. The fire was so hot it even burned the soldiers who threw the three young men into the furnace.
This big furnace had a door so the king could see inside. After a little while he looked in to see what had happened to Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.
Look! Look! What a surprise! The men were not burning at all. There they were just walking around in the hot fire but not hurt at all. Only the ropes were burned off them. The king was so surprised at what he saw!
“Wait!” The king said, “Did not we put just three men into the fire? I see four men in there now and one of them looks like the Son of God.” It was the Son of God in there with them and they were not one little bit hurt. The fire would have burned them up if God had not taken care of them. But He did.
Now the king knew for sure that the God that Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego loved was the true God.
Out of the furnace came the three brave young men. They were well and did not even smell of smoke. They were not hurt, not even one little bit. The king said, “Your God has saved you. No other god could do what your God has done.”
King Nebuchadnezzar told all the people that they must never say anything against the God in Heaven again. That God is the real God.
If we love Jesus and pray to Him and do not let anyone make us do something God does not like, God will watch over us and take care of us, too.