Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods and you do not worship the golden statue that I have set up? Now if you are ready when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, drum, and entire musical ensemble to fall down and worship the statue that I have made, well and good. But if you do not worship, you shall immediately be thrown into a furnace of blazing fire, and who is the god that will deliver you out of my hands?”
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to present a defense to you in this matter. If our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire and out of your hand, O king, let him deliver us. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods and we will not worship the golden statue that you have set up.”
Then Nebuchadnezzar was so filled with rage against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego that his face was distorted. He ordered the furnace heated up seven times more than was customary, and ordered some of the strongest guards in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and to throw them into the furnace of blazing fire.
Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up quickly. He said to his counselors, “Was it not three men that we threw bound into the fire?” They answered the king, “True, O king.” He replied, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the middle of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the fourth has the appearance of a god.” Nebuchadnezzar then approached the door of the furnace of blazing fire and said, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!” So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out from the fire. And the satraps, the prefects, the governors, and the king’s counselors gathered together and saw that the fire had not had any power over the bodies of those men; the hair of their heads was not singed, their tunics were not harmed, and not even the smell of fire came from them. Nebuchadnezzar said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants who trusted in him. They disobeyed the king’s command and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God.
The story of the three young Hebrew men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, is one of remarkable faith. Threatened by Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar with death by fire if they would not deny their one true God by bowing down and worshiping the king’s huge golden image, they stood their ground. For that, they were thrown into the fire, but they survived completely unharmed. Neither was their hair singed, nor was there any smell of fire on them—a result completely outside the realm of human logic. Verse 18 tells us they weren’t even sure that their God would deliver them, and yet they trusted their lives to God and continued to deny Nebuchadnezzar. Though they did not know the outcome in advance, they trusted in God anyway. They gave up control over what would happen to them and let God manage. Hence the oft-heard modern dictum, “Let go and let God.” That’s hard to do. Complete trust in another is very hard, especially when it’s an entity one cannot see. We feel more secure and more worthwhile if we can manage everything ourselves, and that seems to work out pretty well as long as things are going good. But life can change quickly on anyone. Where is our trust when the going gets tough—or even when there are little bumps in the road? Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego offer an example of trust to be esteemed—trust that can result in outcomes that are beyond our ability to imagine.
Let go and let God.
Appointed readings for today: Isaiah 50:4-9, Psalm 70, John 13:21-32