Hi, welcome to Redeem the Commute. I’m Ryan, your host for the Daily Challenges. Yesterday we read the story of three Jewish men being thrown into a furnace as punishment for refusing to bow down and worship a king and his gods. Here’s what happened next:
Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” He answered and said, “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.”
Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the door of the burning fiery furnace; he declared, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here!” Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out from the fire. And the satraps, the prefects, the governors, and the king’s counselors gathered together and saw that the fire had not had any power over the bodies of those men. The hair of their heads was not singed, their cloaks were not harmed, and no smell of fire had come upon them. Nebuchadnezzar answered and said, “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. Therefore I make a decree: Any people, nation, or language that speaks anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be torn limb from limb, and their houses laid in ruins, for there is no other god who is able to rescue in this way.” Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the province of Babylon. (Daniel 3:8-30 ESV)
Even in his moment of repentance, this king is over the top with his threats of violence!
Before he was threatening to hurt anyone who didn’t bow down to his statue, and now he’s threatening to tear people limb from limb if they say anything agains the God of Israel. And promotes the very people he intended to execute. Why? Why the sudden change of heart – just because they miraculously survived?
No, there’s something else. The key here is in how this story points to Jesus. When the king looks in the furnace, he is astonished to see four people – not the three he condemned. And he says the fourth is like a son of the gods, or in some translations from the Hebrew – like a son of man.
You might recognize those titles – they are titles given to Jesus. God was there in the world with those men – protecting them from certain death – a hint at what was coming. A few centuries later, God came into this world in a new way, as Jesus Christ the son of God, and helped every single human being to follow him through death, and into life. Not that we wouldn’t die like these men, but that when the kingdom of this world rejects us, we could follow him through death, and into new life in his kingdom.
Question: What do you think we can learn from this story, today? What makes it hard to trust God?