The fire! The heat! The intensity! The sizzling!
I am a skilled craftsman in the service of the king of Babylon. King Nebuchadnezzar is the one who destroyed the temple of Solomon and conquered Judah and Jerusalem sending the Jews into exile.
To complete the royal palace begun by his father, King Nebuchadnezzar spares nothing: magnificant cedar, bronze, gold, silver, nor rare and precious stones. My job—to mold statues from precious metals.
Once, I witnessed this powerful monarch of Babylon fall on his face and worship Daniel, a Hebrew prisoner who was sentenced to die.
However, King Nebuchadnezzar changed his mind. People could not understand how this Daniel could have known and interpreted the king’s dream. But he did. Daniel said that the God of Heaven had given him the vision. Surely, the king also heard him say that it was God who placed him on the throne? But instead, he simply added this God to the false idols and worshiped them all.
“Then the king lavished many gifts on Daniel, made him a ruler, and placed him in charge of all Babylon’s wise men” (Daniel 2:48, paraphrased).
“Moreover, at Daniel's request, the king appointed Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego [three young Jews] administrators, while Daniel remained at the royal court” (Daniel 2:49, paraphrased).
The Chaldeans, the priest-magicians who attended to the worship of idols, sizzled with anger. They vowed to keep an eye on these Hebrew men and to find some way to discredit them. As for me, I liked the young Jews, but a lowly craftsman’s opinion is of no regard.
In the coming years, Nebuchadnezzar had forgotten the revelation of his dream, and he ordered me to mold a huge ninety by nine foot gold statue. That’s six hundred and sixty-six cubits (666)!
To do this, I had to sit next to a hot fire with molten gold in a crucible. I stirred and skimmed to remove the impurities that rose to the top. With flames reaching temperatures of 1000 degrees, my job was definitely a dangerous occupation. The fire sizzled and burned, the melting gold sizzled and bubbled. Even the hair on my arms sizzled and singed.
The completion was an impressive sight and was erected on the Plain of Dura, a few miles south of Babylon. King Nebuchadnezzar instructed all his leaders to attend the dedication. He issued this decree: “People of all languages, when you hear the music, you must bow down and worship the statue. Whoever does not obey will immediately be thrown into a fiery furnace” (Daniel 3:5-6, paraphrased).
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused to bow to the golden image, and the Chaldeans wasted no time reporting it to the king. King Nebuchadnezzar burned with fury; this sizzling news struck at the heart of the king’s egotistical pride. In a fit of rage, he ordered them brought before him. I recall their words clearly as the king offered them one more chance to bow to the man-made image: “If we are thrown into the furnace, our God will save us. But even if he doesn't, we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up” (Daniel 3:17-18, paraphrased).
Nebuchadnezzar flew into a blind rage. He was not satisfied just to have them thrown into the normal furnace, but commanded it be heated seven times its regular temperature. (For cremation, the regular temperature is set at 1600 degrees. Imagine seven times that!) The furnace ignited into an inferno and killed the soldiers who had the misfortune of being chosen to throw the men into the flames.
Suddenly, Nebuchadnezzar exclaimed that he saw four, not three men walking around in the fire. “The flames don’t harm them, and the fourth man ‘is like the Son of God.’”
Most of us thought he had gone mad, but then he yelled for Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to come out. The men walked out of the furnace without burns, their hair untouched, their clothes perfectly fine, and no smell of fire on them. Nothing sizzled! Nothing singed!
King Nebuchadnezzar now knew that they worshipped a real God, not some fake statue. God protected them, and they were willing to die rather than serve or worship any god except the Almighty God. From that day forward, the king proclaimed that all the people could not say anything bad about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s God.
On that day, I became a believer, but still, the Chaldeans sizzle!
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