Three Men & A Blazing Brick Kiln
by Glenn A. Hascall
Babylon - It has been some time since the first Israelites were inducted into Babylonian culture.
King Nebuchadnezzar was quick to promote Israelites to positions of prominence in his kingdom. Three have recently come literally under fire for their refusal to follow one of the king's proclamations.
Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah had been set in positions of authority to govern the affairs of the province of Babylon and had been successful in their duties.
Perhaps that is why it came as a surprise that these three men would openly break the law.
When you arrive in Babylon you have to be blind not to notice the golden statue of our beloved king on the plain of Dura. This ninety-foot statue was erected for the purpose of honoring and worshiping King Nebuchadnezzar.
At the recent dedication ceremony, Babylonian officials reminded those present of the laws requiring the worship of the king by bowing to the golden representation of Nebuchadnezzar. The penalty for non-compliance was to be literally baked alive in the brick-kiln.
The musicians began to play a prescribed melody and the masses honored the king.
That's when this story takes on a new dimension.
Certain Chaldean officials noted that Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah had not followed the law in question.
Exercising their civic duty, they brought the news to the king. He was not amused.
Nebuchadnezzar had the three men brought to him and exercising great restraint, made known that he was willing to let them off with a warning. However, he expected full compliance with the letter and intent of this law. It is impossible to understand the brazenness of these three men. When they were confronted with the truth of their infraction, they not only admitted to failing to worship the king's image, but also indicated that they had no intention of doing so in the future. They also indicated that they had no fear of the blazing brick kiln because their god was more than capable of getting them out of the predicament.
Sources close to the king indicate they have never seen him as angry as he was after this bold announcement.
He told some of his soldiers to fire up the furnace seven times hotter than usual and then he did indeed throw the three men in to the blaze.
The soldiers who attempted to physically place the three Israelites into the furnace were regrettably killed in the line of duty. The flames were to hot for them to overcome.
The king gazed into the flames and what he saw caused great amazement. He looked into the furnace to see the three men walking around seemingly unfazed by the inferno around them. The king then noted a fourth man in the furnace with Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah.
The King was quoted as saying that the fourth man "was like the Son of God."
All the fire went out of the king at that point and he called the three men to come out of the flames. What we all observed when they came out was that the men did not have singed hair, nor were their clothes burned, and they didn't even have the expected odor of fire on them.
Nebuchadnezzar was so taken with what he had seen that he made a new law that made it illegal to say anything against the god that these three men served.
In a very short period of time our king, who had been upset because the three had disobeyed a direct order, promoted the three to an even greater position in the governmental oversight of Babylon.
There have been theories as to how the men survived their trial by fire, however the one positive from this story is that these three men have paved the way for a greater tolerance of many different deities in Babylon.
It is now possible to worship the image of our king along with the deity these three men have introduced to our society. It has opened up a new era in tolerance for us that will allow even greater avenues of expressing our individual beliefs.
Babylon may well be known in future generations as the standard for other population centers when it comes to the need for diversity and tolerance of other people's beliefs.
Note: The preceding story was written from the perspective of a skeptical news reporter and should not be viewed as a 100% accurate portrayal of events. For the real scoop see Daniel 2:46-3:30.