Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Angry (08/02/07)
TITLE: The Fiery Furnace Fails to Fry
By Tim Brown
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Icy tentacles of fear crept up my spine. Nebuchadnezzar’s anger almost cost us our lives more than once. As an advisor, I’m well paid with great perks, but the job has its risks.
“Who’s he mad at now?” I asked.
“Those three Jews. He’s so mad, he ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than ever and then throw them in.”
“You’d better tell me what’s going on. I’ve been out of town this week.”
Then he started his story.
“You know that big secret project the king’s been working on? Well, it’s done… a giant gold statue of himself ninety feet tall.”
“Whew,” I said. “That must have cost a fortune.”
“Money was no object. He didn’t care how much it cost. He placed statue that in the plain of Dura for all to see and then gathered all the wise men and government officials for the unveiling. As it was revealed, a herald cried out that when the music played, we were to worship the image…or else.”
“Or else…what?” I asked. “Wait a minute. Let me guess…Whoever refused to worship it would be thrown into the fiery furnace.”
“You got it,” my friend replied.
“So…Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to bow and are on their way to the furnace.”
“You don’t know the half of it my friend,” he said. “They were brought before the king who gave them a second chance to bow.”
“You’ve got to be kidding. I figured he’d sentence them right away.”
My friend went on. “That’s what I thought too. But I think the king likes these guys. They are good, honest, hard workers so he gave them a second chance. Just so they knew who they were dealing with, though, he told them to bow or burn and that their god wasn’t powerful enough to deliver them.”
“Anger and pride,” I said. “Not a good combination, especially when you’re speaking about the God of the Jews. What happened next?”
“They looked Nebuchadnezzar in the eye and said their God could deliver them from the furnace if he wanted, but he would deliver them from him!”
My friend noticed the shock on my face. No one talked to the king that way!
Nodding, my friend continued. “Yes, they really said that. They also told the king in no uncertain terms that they would never bow down to him or his gods.”
“And they’re still alive?” I asked, amazed at their courage. “I figured he’d kill them on the spot.”
“I tell you, I’ve never seen Nebuchadnezzar that mad. He was beyond furious. You could see the anger on his face as he stared at them eye-to-eye.”
“That must have been something. I’m shaking just from hearing it,” I managed to squeak out.
“These young men were amazing, calmly standing there, showing no fear while Nebuchadnezzar’s storm raged. The power of their God showed in the peace that enveloped them. Suddenly he yelled out to heat the furnace seven times hotter that ever before and to throw the three in.”
Just then, another friend ran up.
“You guys won’t believe this. They tied those three guys and had the biggest soldiers throw them into the furnace, but the heat killed the soldiers carrying out the king’s order.”
I sadly shook my head. “The three must have died before hitting bottom.”
“But that’s just it, they didn’t! When Nebuchadnezzar looked into the furnace to gloat over their charred bodies, he saw them alive and well, walking around with a fourth person—one like a son of the gods!”
“Are you saying that nothing on them burned,” my first friend asked.
“No, he’s not,” I said as the realization hit. “There was one thing that burned up…the ropes that bound them. That’s one powerful God they serve.”
“What do you mean,” both friends asked.
“It takes a powerful God to take one of his children through a problem and use that problem to free them from the things binding them. What other god can provide freedom and peace in the midst of a life-threatening problem? What other god personally shows up during that problem? I think that’s a God I want to know. I’m going to go have a talk with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.”
Both friends looked at each other and said, “We’re coming too.”
As we walked, I realized the fear I’d had at the beginning was gone.
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