In the land of Babylon, King Nebuchadnezzar commanded that a large image, or statue, of gold be constructed. When it was completed, he sent messages to all the important people of the land: princes, governors, captains, judges, and others. He commanded them to attend the dedication of the golden image that had been erected.
When all the people were gathered together before the golden image, they were told that when they heard certain music play, they were to fall down and worship the image. Anyone who did not would be immediately thrown into a fiery furnace.
At the sound of the music, all but three people fell down and worshiped the great golden image. The three who didn’t were Jews who refused to worship anyone or anything but God.
Some informers told the king that the three Jews, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, had not fallen down and worshiped the golden image when the music played. Angered, the king commanded that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego be brought before him.
When the king asked them if the charges against them were true, the three men not only admitted it but added, “Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace.” But even if He didn’t, they told the king, they still would not “serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.”
King Nebuchadnezzar became even angrier. He commanded that the furnace be heated until it was seven times hotter than usual. Then he commanded that the mightiest men in the army throw Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego into it. The three faithful Jews were bound and thrown into the middle of the furnace while the king watched.
Because the furnace was so hot, the leaping flames slew the mighty men that had thrown Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego into its fiery mouth.
All of a sudden the king stood up. “Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?” he asked.
“True, O king,” replied his counselors.
Agitated, the king exclaimed, “Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.” Then he went near to the mouth of the furnace and called to the three Jews to come out. When they did, King Nebuchadnezzar and all those around him could see that the fire hadn’t hurt them at all. Not a hair was singed, no clothing was burned, not even the smell of fire could be detected on them!
King Nebuchadnezzar said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him.”
Then the king decreed that anyone who spoke against the Jews’ God was to be “cut in pieces … because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort.”