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The story of the three Hebrew men and fiery furnace is a special edition this month. While we are not reading the book of Daniel, we are introducing the story for children in Kids Korner. This is just to help the teacher's in their preparation for class.

This month's Did You Know features the Three Hebrew Boys in the fiery furnace…..

  • This story appears in the third chapter of Daniel.
  • King Nebuchadnezzar built an enormous statue of gold that was 96 feet tall and 9 feet wide.
  • Archeology confirms that such statues existed in antiquity.
  • The story doesn't tell us who the statue represented. Some think it was one of Nebuchadnezzar's gods or maybe it was a statue of him.
  • He demanded that all ranking officials pledge their loyalty to him by worshiping the statue, thus boosting his ego.
  • When the music played, the people fell prostrate. (Six instruments are mentioned. Their common denominator is that they were all loud!)
  • Ordinary people were exempt from worshiping at the sound of music.
  • Nebuchadnezzar had appointed the three Hebrew men over the administration of the province of Babylon as a favor to Daniel.
  • Pledging their loyalty to the king was no problem; worshiping his god was a serious problem (it violated the Second Commandment).
  • Needless to say, their promotion irritated certain Chaldeans who began looking for a way to get them in trouble.
  • The decree was that anyone who didn't fall down and worship the statue would immediately be thrown into a fiery furnace.
  • The Chaldeans were only too happy to point out to Nebuchadnezzar that the three Hebrew men were not bowing down.
  • Their accusation is forceful and could be literally translated: "They ate the Judeans to pieces."
  • The king flew into a rage and demanded they be brought to him immediately.
  • He did not blindly accept the accusations against them; he gave them a chance to prove themselves.
  • He offered them a choice: worship or the fiery furnace, i.e. life or death.
  • The three men chose a principled stance: they would not worship another god (which would break the first two Commandments) regardless of the outcome.
  • "If our God is able to save us, he will; even if he should not, we will not worship."
  • The three men stay calmly confident in contrast to the raging fury of the king.
  • This made the king even angrier and he ordered the furnace to be heated seven times hotter than usual.
  • The guards were ordered to bind them and throw them in the furnace - they didn't even have time to strip them.
  • The irony is that the furnace was so hot it killed the men who threw them in.
  • The three men were not saved from the furnace; they were saved in it.
  • But shortly, Nebuchadnezzar noticed four men walking unharmed among the flames. He identified the fourth as a divine being.
  • Immediately, he called to the three men and told them to come out. (Apparently the furnace had a door on the bottom as well as an opening at the top.)
  • When they did, they were untouched. Neither their hair nor their clothes were singed; there was not even the smell of fire upon them.
  • Then Nebuchadnezzar said, "Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who rescued his servants who trusted in him!
  • He was so humbled that he made a new decree: Thereafter no one could utter any insult against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. If any did, they would be dismembered and their house destroyed.
  • Nebuchadnezzar recognized that no other God could have delivered them in this way.
  • Their ordeal had a positive effect in that their religion was given official recognition and protection.
  • Then he promoted the three men once again.

Goldingay, John. "Daniel." Word Biblical Commentary. Dallas, TX: Word Books      Publisher, 1989.

Lucas, Ernest. "Daniel." Apollos Old Testament Commentary. Downers Grove, IL:      InterVarsity Press, 2002.

Redditt, Paul. "Daniel." The New Century Bible Commentary. Sheffield, Great      Britain: Sheffield Academic Press, 1999.

Russell, D.S. "Daniel." The Daily Study Bible Series. Philadelphia, PA:      Westminster Press, 1981.

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