A couple of weeks ago, I taught the Sunbeams (the 3 year olds at church) about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Do you remember them?
About 600 years before Jesus was born, just after Lehi and his family left Jerusalem, Nebuchadnezzar , king of Babylon besieged Jerusalem and took captive many of Israel's finest citizens. Among those were four young men from the tribe of Judah: Daniel, Hanaiah, Mishael, and Azariah.. In captivity, the youths were given new names. Daniel was called Belteshazzar, Hananiah was called Shadrach, Mishael was called Meshach, and Azariah was called Abednego.
These four Hebrews excelled in wisdom and knowledge and found favor in King Nebuchadnezzar's eyes. The king put them into service among his most trusted wise men and counselors.
When Daniel proved to be the only man capable of interpreting one of Nebuchadnezzar's troubling dreams, the king placed him in a high position over the whole province of Babylon. And at Daniel's request, the king appointed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego as administrators under Daniel.
As was common at the time, King Nebuchadnezzar a huge golden image and commanded all the people to fall down and worship it whenever they heard the sound of his musical herald. The awful penalty for disobeying the king’s order was to be thrown into a blazing furnace.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were determined to worship the One True God only and thus were reported to the king. Bravely they stood before him as the king pressured the men to deny their God. They said:
"O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up." (Daniel 3:16-18)
Furious with pride and rage, Nebuchadnezzar ordered the furnace to be heated seven times hotter than normal. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were bound and cast into the flames. The fiery blast was so hot it killed the soldiers who had escorted them.
But as King Nebuchadnezzar peered into the furnace, he marveled at what he saw:
"But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods." (Daniel 3:25, ESV)
Then the king called the men to come out of the furnace. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego emerged unharmed, with not even a hair on their heads singed or the smell of smoke on their clothing.
Needless to say, this made quite an impression on Nebuchadnezzar who declared:
"Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set aside the king's command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God." (Daniel 3:28, ESV)
Through God's miraculous deliverance of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego that day, the rest of the Israelites in captivity were given freedom to worship and protection from harm by the king's decree.
And Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego received a royal promotion.
Some things I like to learn and remember from this story –
Isn’t that just crazy?! To make something and then to worship it?! But sometimes I think we do that with our “things.” We don’t bow down and pray to them, but we give them all our attention and thought instead of thinking about being kind and obeying Heavenly Father. Having and enjoying our stuff sometimes seems more important to us than praying, studying scriptures, serving, doing our chores, etc.
I taught this story to the Sunbeams in a lesson about obedience. But! Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego DISOBEYED the king. Why is that a good thing to remember? We should be careful to obey Heavenly Father and righteous leaders, but when someone in authority tells us to do something wrong, we should obey Heavenly Father and not the other leader.
That leads me to think about when the Spirit told Nephi to kill Laban (Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi 4). Nephi had been taught that killing was wrong. So he checked back with Heavenly Father and told Him that the idea of killing someone really bothered him. God told Nephi why He wanted Nephi to kill Laban. Nephi was in the habit of praying to and LISTENING to Heavenly Father so that he knew the voice of the Spirit form his own thoughts or the voice of Satan. I am sure he had a spirit of confirmation when he prayed about this. This whole conversation took place in just minutes or seconds. We need to learn to talk to and LISTEN to Heavenly Father so that we learn to know his voice.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego knew that Heavenly Father COULD save them from the fire, but they did not know if He WOULD. They said “But if not”. I hear something like “Even if we suffer in this life for obeying God, we will obey Him and Him only, trusting in His love and justice that all well be right EVENTUALLY. “ We need to learn to trust and obey Heavenly Father even when it seems to cause us trouble here and now.
I hope we can learn to be more like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
by the way - the kids loved it