Miles to go...

I have miles to go... please pray each day for the next leg of my Biblical journey!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Day 63: Don't Bend Abednego!

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego
copyright V. Gilbert and Arlisle F. Beers

Daniel 3:15-18

New Living Translation (NLT)
 I will give you one more chance to bow down and worship the statue I have made when you hear the sound of the musical instruments.[a] But if you refuse, you will be thrown immediately into the blazing furnace. And then what god will be able to rescue you from my power?”
16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you.17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. 18 But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.”


Almost the entire book of Daniel deals with Daniel's ability to interpret the dreams of Nebuchadnezzar and subsequent kings of Babylon, and the prophetic visions known as the end times prophecies. All except for one instance that centers entirely on his three best friends. It's an event that Daniel doesn't even figure into at all; He just tells the story of what happened.

The three guys had been exiled along with Daniel during the third year of Jehoikim's reign in Judah, when King Nebuchadnezzar and his armies laid siege to Jerusalem. Because each of them was from Jewish royalty or nobility, and had the good fortune of being strong and handsome, the four of them were selected to enter into royal service in Babylon. They were also each given new names, ones that suited the king's fancy.

Daniel's name became Belteshazzar. 
Hananiah became Shadrach.
Mishael was now known as Meshach.
And Azariah was renamed Abednego, which is pronounced A-BED-neh-go. There is no "bend" in its pronunciation!

Together the four close friends had proven themselves more than competent, and had each moved up in rank. But they didn't always tow the king's line. From the very beginning, even as they spent three years training for service, they bent the rules of the kingdom. They'd been ordered to receive meals heavy with meat and wine, but they insisted on following a vegetarian diet with no alcohol. When King Neb ordered to have all the wise men (mostly astrologers and sorcerers) in the kingdom killed for not interpreting his dream, Daniel requested more time so that he could ask God to reveal it. King Neb granted his request, and Daniel and his three friends fasted and prayed together until God revealed the dream and its meaning to Daniel. So together with God, they succeeded in saving the lives of all the king's wise guys. It's a good thing, too, because Daniel's gift of dream interpretation included him in that category.

King Neb was so grateful that Daniel had explained his dream (and probably that the dream foretold events that wouldn't occur til Neb was off the throne) that he promoted Daniel and his friends to high positions of authority; Daniel became the ruler over the entire province, while continuing to reside in the palace, and Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego lived outside the palace walls and governed all the affairs within the province.

Not everybody was pleased with the rise in rank of the four outsiders, and looked for opportunities to change the status quo. It happened that King Neb had a gold statue erected that was 9' wide and 90' tall. This thing was monstrous! Everybody was expected to bow down and worship the king's newest play-pretty every time they heard the sound of musical instruments. Anyone who rebelled against the new law would be thrown into a blazing furnace.

As usual, the boys weren't having any of that. They'd never caved in to pressure before, and they weren't about to start.  So some of the astrologers in the province ratted them out to the king. This really made King Neb mad. He had Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego brought before him so he could chew them out royally... no pun intended. Well, ok, maybe the pun is intended. Anyway, here's my version of how it went.

King Neb: What the heck, guys! Didn't you hear the order that was given that you have to serve my gods and worship my statue out there?
Shadrach: Uh, yeah, we heard something about that.
King Neb: You head something about it? Well why haven't you done something about it?
Meshach: Because you know we serve a different God, and we can't compromise our faith by worshiping that gleaming hunk of metal you stuck out there in the fields of Dura.
King Neb: Seriously? You guys are unbelievable. Listen, I'm going to give you one last chance. You will bow down and worship the statute I've made whenever you hear musical instruments. If you don't, I'll have you thrown into the furnace. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand that you are going to be burned alive, and there is nothing your God can do about it. 
Abednego: We don't have to stand here and justify our actions to you, Neb. Go ahead, throw us in the fire. Our God can do plenty about it, if He chooses. He can protect us from whatever harm you wish on us. And even if He chooses not to save us, we're still not going to defy our God to worship yours.

Nebuchadnezzar went ballistic when he heard those words. His face became all twisted with rage and he started sputtering as he ordered some of the strongest men in the room to tie them all up. Then he demanded that more fuel be thrown into the furnace, to make it seven times hotter than normal. The three friends were then escorted to the door of the furnace, and pushed inside. It was so incredibly hot that the flames shot out and killed the death squad that had taken Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to the fiery pit. The king watched from a safe vantage point. All of a sudden, he jumped up in utter amazement and shouted to the servants around him;

King Neb: Hey, didn't we tie them up first? And there were only three of them, right?
Random Bystander: Yes, Your Magesty, we did. Why do you ask?
King Neb: Because look! There's four men in there, and they're walking around like it's a cool spring day! Who the heck is that other guy with them? He looks like a god or something!
Neb ran as close as he could to the furnace door and shouted at the top of his lungs.
King Neb: Guys, guys! I get it! You serve a bigger God than I do! Get out here!
So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego all came out. Not a hair on their heads was singed, not a thread of their clothes was scorched, and they smelled as fresh as though they'd just stepped out of a shower. 

King Neb: I think I'd better start praising your God and not my own! You defied me and were willing to die for your God, and He honored that by saving your lives. So I am issuing a new decree; Nobody, and I mean nobody had better ever say a word against you three guys, because if I get wind of it, I'll rip their arms out of their sockets and burn their houses to the ground. No other god can pull off a feat like yours just did!
And then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were promoted to even higher ranking positions in the province of Babylon.

I remember when I was a little girl, there was a song I sung about this event. It's a song that is taught in Sunday School and children's church services to help little kids learn the stories of the Bible. I found several versions on youtube, and I'm going to include one here that I enjoyed the most. If you can, watch and listen. 

1 comment:

  1. The first time he sang it as 'Abendego' ... and then all correctly after that! lol ..