This time we're going to hear that familiar story about the fiery furnace and how God delivered three men because of their trust in His word.

It happened a long time ago; about 2500 years, in 600 B.C. King Nebuchadnezzar had just conquered to southern kingdom of the nation of Israel. It was called the kingdom of Judah. These people became known as Jews when they were warring against the northern kingdom of the nation of Israel; called the House or Kingdom of Israel. They started to be called Judahites but that got shortened to Jews. The people of the northern kingdom, also known as the Lost Tribes, were never called Jews.

When king Nebuchadnezzar took Jerusalem, he wanted to make sure that none of the princes to the throne would ever be king; or their children. So he killed king Zedekiah and all his sons. He also made eunuchs of the sons of the former king, Hezekiah, so they couldn't have any children that could become king of the Jews. King Nebuchadnezzar had read the prophecies that a child of the great king David would always reign over Israel and wanted to make sure that it never happened.

After Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were given to the Captain of the eunuchs, they were taught all the high learning of Babylon for three years and put into government service for the king. Another Prince of the Jews was there with them. His name we know very well. He was Daniel, who we told about in the story of the lions' den.

Because Daniel had helped the king, he was made a governor of Babylon and helped Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to postions of state as well. The Babylonian governors didn't like those Jewish governors very much, and were always ready to try and get them in trouble.

Nebuchadnezzar, to show his riches and power, made a great gold statue that was ninety feet high and eighteen feet wide, and said, "Whenever the people shall hear the sound of the cornet and other instruments, they shall bow down and worship the golden statue."

Now God had said long ago to the people of Israel that they should worship no other God than Him, so our Heroes wouldn't go against the word of God. Well, Nebuchadnezzar got mad. He had a furnace of fire prepared. This furnace was for anyone who disobeyed the order to worship the statue. If they didn't bow down, they were to be thrown into the fire.

After the king had Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego brought before him and they still refused to worship the statue, he got so mad he had his men heat the furnace seven times hotter than it was supposed to be. Strong soldiers tied up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and were told to throw them into the furnace. Poor guys. The fire had gotten so hot that just getting close enough to throw in the princes of Judah *killed* the soldiers.

We have to take just a minute to tell what Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego said to the king when he told them they had to worship his idol. This is what my Bible says, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not afraid to answer you in this matter. If you try to burn us, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the fiery furnace, and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king." That must have taken a lot of courage on the part of our heroes.

All they had to do was to bow down to the statue. It may seem silly for them to refuse because you might say that they could have bowed down and not meant it in their hearts. But trusting God's word, or Faithing, doesn't work that way. When you're acting on God's promises, it's important that your actions, something people can *see*, show that you trust God. Thinking in your heart is OK, but God would rather have you act along with your thoughts. That's why Faithing is ninety percent courage. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego had to be very brave to stand up to king Nebuchadnezzar and his fiery furnace.

Now the best part of the story. When the king's men threw the three into the furnace and were killed from the heat, the king looked into the flames and saw *four* figures there. He asked his counsellors, "Didn't we throw three men in the fire? I see four men in there walking around, and they aren't tied up."

Then Nebuchadnezzar called into the fire for them to come out. Well, the Lord had sent an angel to protect them. Nebuchadnezzar had said it looked like the Son of God. When Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire, they were not only unhurt, their clothes weren't even singed. They didn't even smell like smoke ! !

Now Nebuchadnezzar was no dummy. He knew power when he saw it. And he probably wanted to save himself from God's anger at the same time. He made Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego high government officials and sent a decree throughout the land that, "Anyone who speaks anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, should be cut up in pieces and their houses be made a manure heap. No other God can deliver after this sort." And that old king was right.

God has said that those who believe and ask for His help will get it. I hope you can remember and have the courage of our three Heroes the next time you need help.

Be sure to check out the other Heroes of faithing listed in Hebrews, chapter eleven. See if you can tell what each did that showed he trusted things that God had said. I also invite you see how the whole book of Hebrews talks about faithing.

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