Three friends and a big fire

By Maritza Brunt

A long, long time ago, there lived three friends. They were good friends because they had something in common—they had all been taken away from their families. If this happened to you, you’d be sad about it, right? Well, these friends were, but they chose to find happiness wherever they were. They were glad they had each other, and they were especially glad that they had a friend named God who they could talk to every time they were sad.

The three friends were named Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Pretty long names! But that’s because the new land they were living in had some very different ways of doing things.

Their new land also had a king. He was called Nebuchadnezzer. Another long name! One day, King Nebuchadnezzer decided to build a statue. It was really, really big, and made of solid gold. Once it was built, the king sent orders to all his royal people.

“I want everyone in the kingdom to fall on their faces in front of this statue!” he demanded.

“Won’t that be sore?” asked one royal advisor.

“I don’t really care,” sniffed the king. “This is how it’s going to be.”

King Nebuchadnezzer made a big deal about his gold statue. He got lots of musicians, people who played instruments like horns, flutes, and pipes. When the musical instruments played, everybody had to bow down on their faces in front of the statue.

But the king went one step further. Anybody who didn’t fall down would be in big, big trouble. So big that they would be thrown into a fire for disobeying!

This was a problem for our three friends. Up until now, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had found happiness in their new home because they had been able to worship and pray and talk to God. But now, King Nebuchadnezzer was ordering them not to worship God, but to bow down and worship the golden statue!

The three friends knew that if they disobeyed the king, they would face a blazing fire. But they also knew that they couldn’t disobey their God. Even though they had been taken away from their home, God still loved them, and had been good to them. They knew they had to obey God.

So when the musical instruments played loudly, and everybody else in the kingdom fell down onto their faces, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego stayed standing. They didn’t fall down. They were standing tall as everybody else around them bowed to the statue.

Looking at the crowd, a royal official suddenly spotted the three friends, and went running to the king.

“King!” he panted. “King! You told everybody to fall down in front of the gold statue, but there are three men who have refused!”

“What?” said King Nebuchadnezzer. “I think you’ve made a mistake.”

“No, your majesty, it’s true! These three men are not from our land. They worship another God. They refuse to bow to your statue.”

Now King Nebuchadnezzer was angry. “Tell these men to come here at once!” he commanded.

When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego arrived, the king decided to give them one more chance.

“Friends,” he said kindly. “What I heard about you can’t be true. My royal officials tell me you don’t want to bow down to my statue!”

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego looked at each other.

“It’s true, king,” they said. “We don’t want to hurt your feelings, because you’ve been very kind to us, but we only bow down to our God. He is the one true God.”

The King looked at them very closely.

“But if you don’t bow down to my statue, I will have no choice but to throw you all into a big fire. Who will save you then?”

“Well, King, we know that our God is strong and mighty and we know that He can save us, not only from fire, but from anything,” said the friends. “But even if He doesn’t save us, we will still not bow down to your statue. Even if he doesn’t save us, we will still choose to worship Him.”

The King was shaking with anger. He told his royal guards to heat up the fire—seven times hotter than usual! Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, still dressed in all their clothes, had their hands and feet tied up, and were thrown into the blazing fire.

But something incredible happened.

Instead of hearing screams, King Nebuchadnezzer and his guards heard… nothing. Not one little sound came from the fire.

Suddenly, the king leapt to his feet.

“Guards!” he called in a panic. “Guards! How many men did you throw into the fire?”

The royal guards looked at each other, confused.

“Um… three?” said one guard.

“I thought so!” said the king. “But look! There are FOUR men walking around in that fire! Their arms and feet aren’t tied up, and they look… happy?”

King Nebuchadnezzer ran quickly to the door where the big fire was.

“Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego!” he called. “Come out of the fire!”

And the three friends walked right out. Not one hair on their heads was burnt.

The king and all his royal officials and guards crowded around the friends to look at them closely. Not one hair on their heads was burnt. Their clothes were in perfect condition. They didn’t even smell smoky!

King Nebuchadnezzer knew that he had made a big mistake.

“Friends,” he said to them. “I was wrong! My big, golden statue could never save me like your God has just saved you. From now on, every person in this land must obey and respect the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego! Their God is the only one who is mighty and strong and powerful.”

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego lived a long time in the land of King Nebuchadnezzer. They were even promoted to royal officials! But they never stopped bowing down to their one true friend—God, who had saved them from a big fire.

PICTURE CREDIT: Moody Publishers / FreeBibleimages.org.

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