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  • Chad Werkhoven

Daniel 3:16-25 - Fiery Faith

You're not facing a fiery furnace, but your faith is under attack!


Daniel 3:16–25 (NIV)

CONTEXT: King Nebuchadnezzar has ordered his entire kingdom to bow down and worship a giant statue he's built in his honor, but three Jewish young men refuse to do so, so the king threatens to throw them in a blazing furnace unless they comply.

16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was furious with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and his attitude toward them changed. He ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual 20 and commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. 21 So these men, wearing their robes, trousers, turbans and other clothes, were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace. 22 The king’s command was so urgent and the furnace so hot that the flames of the fire killed the soldiers who took up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, 23 and these three men, firmly tied, fell into the blazing furnace.

24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?”

They replied, “Certainly, Your Majesty.”

25 He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”


Listen to passage & devotional:


Belgic Confession of Faith, Article 6: The Difference Between Canonical and Apocryphal Books

We distinguish between these holy books

and the apocryphal ones,

which are the third and fourth books of Esdras;

the books of Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Jesus Sirach, Baruch;

what was added to the Story of Esther;

the Song of the Three Children in the Furnace;

the Story of Susannah;

the Story of Bell and the Dragon;

the Prayer of Manasseh;

and the two books of Maccabees.

The church may certainly read these books

and learn from them

as far as they agree with the canonical books.

But they do not have such power and virtue

that one could confirm

from their testimony

any point of faith or of the Christian religion.

Much less can they detract

from the authority

of the other holy books.



The tale of Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego and the fiery furnace has been a favorite children's Bible story for ages. Connoisseurs of dad jokes everywhere have often finished the story with the phrase "Shadrach, Meshach and To-bed-we-go!

But since we live in an age in which we must resist cultural efforts that seek to compromise our spiritual integrity, it's good to look at this story with fresh eyes. We see how easily the entire sophisticated Babylonian society - which included many supposedly God fearing Jews - were swayed by the sights and music and without hesitation bowed down to a statue. We see the political intrigue, in that the associates of these young men were so quick to rat them out to the king for their non-compliance. And we also see the integrity of these young men, who were now in exile because their fathers had lost their integrity and no longer served the Lord.

Dig Deeper

Certainly Daniel's account of this amazing episode contains all that we need to learn that our own fidelity must resemble Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego's, but this week we've been learning about the ancient books called the Apocrypha which supplement the Bible, adding valuable background information.

One of these apocryphal books is called the "Song of the Three Children in the Furnace" (sometimes referred to as The Song of Azariah). It fits between Daniel 3:23-24, and includes the prayer these three young men prayed. Here are some excerpts, but the whole thing is worth reading:

And they walked about in the midst of the flames, singing hymns to God and blessing the Lord. Then Azari′ah stood and offered this prayer; in the midst of the fire he opened his mouth and said:

“Blessed art thou, O Lord, God of our fathers, and worthy of praise;    

and thy name is glorified forever.

For thou art just in all that thou hast done to us,    

and all thy works are true and thy ways right,    

and all thy judgments are truth.

Thou hast executed true judgments in all that thou hast brought upon us    

and upon Jerusalem, the holy city of our fathers,    

for in truth and justice thou hast brought all this upon us because of our sins.


18 And now with all our heart we follow thee,

we fear thee and seek thy face.

19 Do not put us to shame,

but deal with us in thy forbearance

and in thy abundant mercy.

20 Deliver us in accordance with thy marvelous works,

and give glory to thy name, O Lord!

We see why it is our Confession encourages us to read and learn from these apocryphal books! Notice how these boys acknowledge their fathers' sins as their own and confess them to God (they likely weren't yet born or were quite young when Israel was taken into exile). You can also notice that this short prayer fits the AAA format!

Thank God for the courage of these three young men and seek to model their integrity while you live in exile!

  • ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: "Blessed art thou, O Lord, God of our fathers, and worthy of praise; and thy name is glorified forever!"

  • ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Thank God for stories like this and pray that you will have this sort of fidelity and integrity when you face trials.



Read the New Testament in a year! Today: Acts 16


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