No One Rescues Like Our God

I grew up with Veggie Tales. If I see a tomato and a cucumber next to each other in the grocery store, I immediately start singing the theme song in my head… or out loud depending on the day.  Even now, as an adult, when I read the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, my brain switches their names to “Rack, Shack and Benny.”

(If you’re looking for a half hour of vegetables talking about the Bible in an impressively memorable performance: Full Video)

If I’m honest, I hadn’t thought much about this story since Sunday School. It was so good to go back, re-read this chapter and get a fresh look at the messages taught there.

The Story

The story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego is recorded in Daniel 3. I’d really recommend taking the next five minutes to go read this chapter for yourself.

It takes place in the Babylonian empire, during the captivity of the nation of Israel. This was a really dark period of time for Israel, as they had been forced to integrate with the culture they had been captured by. Their nation had been spread out around the empire. Children had been separated from their parents, Jewish names had been changed to non-Jewish names, they were forced to intermarry with non-Jews, and their culture was essentially being destroyed before their eyes.

During this period of time, King Nebuchadnezzar (man, what a name) built a huge golden statue and demanded that everyone bow down and worship it. If they did not, they would be burned alive. Not exactly a pleasant situation to be in.

Now the Jews knew that God prohibited them from worshiping other gods (Psalm 16:4, Exodus 20:3-6). We shouldn’t be surprised that some took this seriously.

It soon came to the attention of King Nebuchadnezzar that three Jewish men, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, had refused to bow down and worship the King’s gods or the gold statue. He calls them before him and gives them one more chance: bow or burn.

Their response is powerful:

O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you.  If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.” (Daniel 3:16-18 NLT )

Wow.

King Nebuchadnezzar was furious. “His face became distorted with rage. He commanded that the furnace be heated seven times hotter than usual.” (Daniel 3:19) He had his strongest men tie the three Jews securely and throw them into the fire, which was now so hot that it killed the soldiers as they threw them in.

But our God is powerful. More powerful than a king. More powerful than fire.

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.” (Daniel 3:24-25 ESV )

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego walked out, completely untouched by the flames that had killed the men who threw them in the fire. Not one hair on their heads had been burned and they did not even smell like smoke. The king was amazed!

Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise to the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego! He sent his angel to rescue his servants who trusted in him. They defied the king’s command and were willing to die rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. Therefore, I make this decree: If any people, whatever their race or nation or language, speak a word against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, they will be torn limb from limb, and their houses will be turned into heaps of rubble. There is no other god who can rescue like this!” (Daniel 3:28-29 NLT )

What Can We Learn?

This story teaches us so much about what faithfully following God looks like.

We are Called to Please God, not Man:

“We have no need to answer you in this matter”

Daniel 3:16 ESV

Their focus was not on making the King happy, but on following the commands that God laid out for them. Jesus tells us to “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.” (Mark 12:7). If following the commands of our government or our culture are not at odds with God’s commands, then okay. But if they are in conflict, the commands of God should always win out, no matter the consequences. We obey God, not man.

God is with Us in the Fire

“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

They threw three men in the fire, and a fourth man appeared. Who was in the fire with them?

When Jesus appears in Old Testament times, it is called a Christophany. These are not clearly outlined, but can be seen as foreshadows of the coming Christ and glimpses of the Trinity in the Old Testament. These became more clear after Christ came to earth as truly man and truly God. We see these Christophanies all over the Bible such as when Jacob wrestles with a man who was actually God (Genesis 32:22-30), when the Lord appeared to Abraham in the promised land (Genesis 12:7-9), when the burning bush appeared to Moses (Exodus 3:2-4:17) when Isaiah sees the Lord being worshiped (Isaiah 6:1-3). I’d love to do an in depth look at Christophanies in a future post because I think they’re really interesting and cohesive with scripture.

So is this indisputably Jesus in the fire with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego? We can’t say for sure, but many commentators do think it’s likely and I tend to agree.

Can you imagine it? Jesus standing beside these three men in the furnace. His glory on display through the flames that were meant to destroy.

We serve a God who is with us in the fire.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for you are with me (Psalm 23:4 ESV)

When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. (Isaiah 43:2-3 ESV)

When we put our trust in God, we do not walk through the flames alone.

Glory to God, Not to Ourselves

“Praise to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego!”

Daniel 3:28 NLT

What is the first thing King Nebuchadnezzar does after he calls them out of the fire?

He praises God.

He calls them “servants of the Most High God.” Not winners. Not champions. Not mighty warriors. Servants.

It was not the strength of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego that saved them, but it was the strength of One in whom they put their trust and that is clear to everyone present.

Nebuchadnezzar didn’t walk away saying “Wow, those guys are so great!” He walked away saying, “Wow. Their God is so great.”

When we testify of God with our words and we honor Him in our actions, He gets the glory, not us.

And that is good.

Even if He Doesn’t…

He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.”

Daniel 3:17-18 NLT

These three men had complete trust in the sovereignty of God.

They know that God is God and following His commandments is always the right thing to do. They are literally facing the king, telling him “no” and understanding completely that they are probably going to be killed for it.

The boldness here is awe inspiring.

Our God is able. But even if He chooses not to, if saving us in this life is not a part of his plan, we will still only ever worship Him. We will only ever trust Him. He alone will be our God.

This theme of obeying regardless of the earthly consequences echoes across scripture.

  • Esther when she bravely tells her uncle that she will plead for the Jews before the king: “Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish.” (Esther 4:16 ESV)
  • Paul when he goes knowingly into danger to share the name of Jesus: “Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” (Acts 21:13 ESV)
  • Even Jesus Christ Himself, before going to the cross prayed this: And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39 ESV)

That is the kind of faith I want to have; that kind of knowing in the depths of my soul that God is God no matter what. No matter my circumstances. No matter my pain. No matter my trials. No matter my culture. No matter my emotions.

I will only ever worship and obey Him.

No One Rescues Like Our God

“There is no other god who can rescue like this!”

Daniel 3:29 NLT

The power of God was on display for the King of Babylon. The God of Israel is the one true God. No other can compare.

And King Nebuchadnezzar knows it. He declares that no one in the kingdom would be allowed to speak against this God. He recognizes the true God because God delivered those who put their trust in Him.

The beauty of this is that God has rescued us too.

By dying on the cross, Jesus has made a way for anyone who puts their trust in Him to be with Him in eternity.

“For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him will not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 ESV, NLT)

No other God can rescue like this. He is the only one. Because He is just, there must be a penalty paid for sin. But because of His great love, God came as a man to pay that sin himself.

That’s incredible.

This is why those who believe in Jesus can have hope. Even if rescue in this life might not be a part of His will every time, He has rescued us for eternity. We have been saved.

So I put my faith in Him. I do my very best to honor Him with my life. I invite you to do the same.   

Praise be the one who saves. No one rescues like our God.