The story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego teaches us about loyalty, faith, and deliverance. It begins in 586 BC, when Nebuchadnezzar (Babylonian) destroyed Jerusalem and brought some of the children of Israel back to Babylon.
Daniel 1:3-4, “Then Nebuchadnezzar instructed Ashpenaz, the master of his eunuchs, to bring some of the children of Israel and some of the king’s descendants and some of the nobles, young men in whom there was no blemish, but good looking, gifted in all wisdom, possessing knowledge and quick to understand, who had ability to serve in the king’s palace and whom they might teach the language and literature of the Chaldeans.” Daniel 1:6-7, “Now from among those of the sons of Judah were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. To them the chief eunuchs gave them names; he gave Daniel the name Belteshazzar, to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abed-Nego.”
Nebuchadnezzar wanted their names changed so he could start influencing them in the Babylonian pagan culture. In Hebrew, Daniel means “God is my Judge.” His new name Belteshazzar means, “Bel, protect his life.” Bel was the chief Babylonian god (idol). Hananiah means, “The Lord shows grace.” His new name Shadrach, means, “under the command of Aku.” Aku was the moon god (idol). Mishael means “who is like God?” His new name Meshach, means “who is like Aku?” Azariah means, “The Lord helps.” His new name, Abed-Nego, means “servant of Nabu,” which means the god of learning and writing. Nebuchadnezzar changed their names to start the process of trying to change their loyalty from the one true God, to the pagan Babylonian gods.
Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah’s faith in the one true God was tested shortly after arriving in Babylon. According to Jewish law, the Torah, there were some foods that they were forbidden to eat. (Leviticus 11)
Daniel 1:8-20, “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself. Now God had brought Daniel into the favor and goodwill of the chief of the eunuchs. And the chief of the eunuchs said to Daniel, ‘I fear my lord the king, who has appointed your food and drink. For why should he see your faces looking worse than the young men who are your age? Then you would endanger my head before the king.”
Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah remained loyal and faithful to God, and God rewarded their faithfulness to Him by allowing Daniel to be in good favor with the Chief Eunuch. God’s plan for our lives will always come true if we are loyal and faithful to him. First, we must obey His laws and His commandments, and He will always do His part.
2 Chronicles 16:9, “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.” Proverbs 28:20, “A faithful man will abound with blessings.“
Although Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were captives in the pagan Babylonian culture, their allegiance and obediance was to God first. As we can see, they were convicted by the Holy Spirit in obeying God’s laws first and foremost, before the Babylonian laws. God promises to be with us when we are tempted or go through trials and tribulation.
Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” 1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”
Daniel 1:11-20, “So Daniel said to the steward whom the chief of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, ‘Please test your servants for ten days, and let them give us vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then let our appearance be examined before you, and the appearance of the young men who eat the portion of the king’s delicacies; and as you see fit, so deal with your servants.’ So he consented with them in this matter, and tested them ten days. And at the end of ten days their features appeared better and fatter in flesh than all the young men who ate the portion of the king’s delicacies and the wine that they were to drink, and gave them vegetables. As for these four young men, God gave them knowledge and skill in all literature and wisdom; and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. Then the king interviewed them, and among them all none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; therefore they served before the king. And in all matters of wisdom and understanding about which the king examined them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers who were in all his realm.”
Nebuchadnezzar was trying to influence them with the Babylonain pagan culture by changing their names and changing their diet. However, God honored their wisdom and faith in Him, and He provided them a way to maintain their obediance to His laws.
Jeremiah 29:11-13, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”
Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, adjusted to the Babylonian culture without compromising God’s laws. We are required to obey the government’s laws as long as they do not conflict with God’s soverign laws and commandments. Matthew 2:16, “Herod orders the murder of all male children, aged two and younger, so Joseph and Mary fled to Egypt.” John 9:19, “Jesus tells Pilate he has no authority over Him, basically stating God is allowing His death.” Esther 4:11-7:3, “It was against the law to enter the king’s “chambers” without the king’s permission. This was punished by death. By God’s grace and His mighty hand, Esther enters the chambers and is welcomed by the king. She asks for the release of the Jewish people and the king grants her request.” The Book of Acts has many examples of the government (Sanhedrin) telling the apostles not to preach about Messiah and His teachings. There are other examples in the Holy Bible where it tells us to submit to government unless it violates Almighty God’s laws and commandments.
After Daniel revealed Nebuchadnezzar’s statue dream (Daniel 2), Nebuchadnezzar, in his self-righteous pride, made an image of gold to be worshiped.
Daniel 3:1,”Nebuchadbezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was sixty cubits and its width six cubits.” Daniel 3:4-6, “Then a herald cried aloud: ‘To you it is commanded O peoples, nations, and languages, that at the time you hear the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, you shall fall down and worship the gold image that king Nebuchadnezzar has set up; and whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.” After Daniel revealed to Nebuchadnezzar that no other kingdom in the future would be greater than his kingdom (gold head), Nebuchadnezzar stated in Daniel 2:47, “Truly your God is the God of gods, the Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, since you could reveal this secret.“ Nebuchadnezzar gave praise and honor to God Almighty, but it was short lived. How quickly he forgot about Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah’s God. As the saying goes, “Every need has an ego to feed.” Nebuchadnezzars need of self glorification, self-pride, self-arrogance, and self-worship, caused him to build this image of gold.
Proverbs 16:18, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”
Nebuchadnezzar’s fall is documented in Daniel 4. The prophet Daniel summarizes the king’s fall in Daniel 5:17-21,” Then Daniel answered and said before the king, Let thy gifts be to thyself, and give thy rewards to another; yet I will read the writing unto the king, and make known to him the interpretation. O thou king, the most high God gave Nebuchadnezzar thy father a kingdom, and majesty, and glory, and honor: And for the majesty that he gave him, all people, nations, and languages, trembled and feared before him: whom he would he slew; and whom he would he kept alive; and whom he would he set up; and whom he would he put down. But when his heart was lifted up, and his mind hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him: And he was driven from the sons of men; and his heart was made like the beasts, and his dwelling was with the wild donkeys: they fed him with grass like oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven; till he knew that the most high God ruled in the kingdom of men, and that he appointeth over it whomsoever he will.“
Daniel 3:8-18, “Therefore at that time certain Chaldeans came forward and accused the Jews. They spoke and said to Nebuchadnezzar, ‘O king, live forever! You, O king, have made a decree that everyone who hears the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, shall fall down and worship the gold image; and whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. There are certain Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego; these men, O king, have not paid due regard to you. They do not serve your gods or worship the gold image which you have set up. Then Nebuchadnezzar, in rage and fury, gave the command to bring them to him. So they brought them before the king. Nebucahdnezzar spoke, saying to them, ‘Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the gold image which I have set up? Now if you are ready at the time you hear the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, and you fall down and worship the image which I have made, good! 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? Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, ‘O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If that is the case, 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.”
The humility Nebuchadnezzar showed after Daniel revealed his dream (Daniel 2), had given over to self pride, self worship, and self arrogance. It is obvious, by the answer they gave him, that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego had their minds convicted before Nebuchadnezzar’s last offer to them. They did not know if the Lord was going to deliver them from the fire or not, but one thing was for sure, they were not going to bow down and worship the pagan idol. Their loyalty and trust was in God, and God alone. They obeyed God’s law (Torah).
Exodus 20:3, “You shall have no other gods before Me.”
These three believers had faith in God first, and then had the mindset of ‘come what may.’ Do we have the mindset of Hananiah, Mishael, and Araziah? Are we prepared to say ‘I will serve only God,’ and ‘come what may?’ They trusted God to deliver them, but were determined to be faithful regardless of the consequences.
Psalm 23:4, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; You rod and Your staff, they comfort me.“
We should be faithful to God, regardless of the consequences, as our eternal rewards will outweigh any suffering in this world.
Daniel 3:19-25, “Then Nebuchadnezzar was full of fury, and the expression on his face changed toward Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. He spoke and commanded that they heat the furnace seven times more than it was usually heated. And he commanded certain mighty men of valor who were in his army to bind them, and cast them into the burning fiery furnace. Then these men were bound in their coats, their trousers, their turbans, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. Therefore, because the king’s command was urgent, and the furnace was exceedingly hot, the flame of the fire killed those men who took Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. And these three men, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. Then Nebuchadnezzar was astonished; and he rose in haste and spoke, saying to his counselors, ‘Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?’ They answered and said to the king, ‘True, O king.’ ‘Look!’ he answered, ‘I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.’ ”
Wow, this is incredible! Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were more concerned about obeying God than saving their own lives by being thrown into the fiery furnace. This is a true testament of faith, a faith that doesn’t waver, even unto death.
Revelation 2:10, “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.“
God rewarded their faith and obedience by saving them from burning in the fiery furnace.
Isaiah 43:2,”When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned. Nor shall the flame scorch you.”
Nebuchadnezzar was totally amazed as he saw a fourth person in the furnace with them. Messiah is the fourth person with Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Messiah protected them from harm, He was glorified, they were saved, and they were rewarded for their faith.
Matthew 10:19, “But when they deliver you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say.“
God’s protection is beyond anything we can imagine. He does not promise that He will deliver us like He did these three faithful servants, but He promises that He will be with us and deliver us in His will.
Psalm 50:15, “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.“
Daniel 3:26-30, “Then Nebuchadnezzar went near the mouth of the burning fiery furnace and spoke, saying, ‘Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, servants of the most high God, come out, and come here.’ Then they came from the midst of the fire. And the satraps, administrators, governors, and the king’s counselors gathered together, and they saw these men on whose bodies the fire had no power; the hair of their head was not singed nor were their garments affected, and the smell of fire was not on them. Nebuchadnezzar spoke saying, ‘Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, 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 Abed-Nego 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 Abed-Nego in the province of Babylon.”
At Nebuchadnezzar’s astonishment, they were delivered from the fiery furnace. Not one hair was singed on the three faithful servants of God. This shows us that no human being can bind us if God wants us free. In this amazing story, as well as throughout the Book of Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar never recognized the sovereign almighty power of God. Nebuchadnezzar had to witness the mighty works of God before he would acknowledge that Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah’s God is the Most High God. He did not have the faith of these wise and faithful servants of God. Do we have to see and witness the mighty works of God to totally trust him? Does our faith waver if we are facing trials, much less death?
John 21:29, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.“
Or is our faith as strong as Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah? The faith they held in such high value, unto death, is available to you and me through Jesus the Messiah.
Ephesians 1:17-20, “The God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened, that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in heavenly places.“
If we trust God in every trial and tribulation that comes our way, we cannot go wrong. We never lose. Sometimes He allows certain trials and situations in our life to test our faith and obedience to Him. Through these trials, we grow in the Lord and become perfect and complete when we turn to him for guidance.
James 1:2-4,”My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”
The story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego teaches us about loyalty, faith, and deliverance. It encourages and reminds us that God is in control, we just have to put our faith and trust in Him. He will take care of the rest. Without question, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego’s loyalty was to God Almighty and His commandments. Every time they were tested, their faith in God conquered the situation. They put their trust in the Lord God, and He delivered them according to His will and for His purpose. God is the same today as He was back then, as He will be forever. The only thing He asks of us, is to trust, obey, and have total faith in Him. Amen, Amen, and Amen.