by Leanne Guenther and Sharla Guenther
This is a story about a King and three brave men, all with really strange names. The king's name is Nebuchadnezzar and the three men were known as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They lived in a place called Babylon and the three men worked for the king and had important jobs for the province of Babylon.
One day the king decided to build a huge image made of gold that stood 90 feet high. To understand how tall this is, imagine 15 men all standing one on top of the other to make a tall tower. It sure was big!
King Nebuchadnezzar then made an announcement. "People of all languages, when you hear the music, you must bow down and worship the statue because I have said so. Whoever does not obey and worship the statue will immediately be thrown into a fiery furnace."
The problem with this is God does not want us to worship anything or anyone other than Him. After all, he is God, He made us, and He loves us so much. He came to earth and died for us and cares about every little thing in our lives.
Why would we want to pray or worship something that isn't real, something that can't answer our prayers or help us? To worship a big pile of gold like the one that king Nebuchadnezzar set up is silly. The gold can't hear, see, or care about anything or anyone.
So the next time the music played everyone stopped what they were doing and they bowed down to worship this idol. Everyone that is, except for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Some of the king's workers (that were jealous that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had such good jobs) saw that they would not bow down to the image so they immediately ran to tell the king.
When king Nebuchadnezzar heard the news he was very angry. He immediately ordered that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be brought to him to explain their actions.
The men were brought before the king and Nebuchadnezzar said to them, "Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that you will not bow down and worship the image of gold that I have made? Just in case there was a mistake I will give you another chance. When the music plays again you will be ready and bow down to the image, and if you don't this time you will be thrown into a fiery furnace. Then what god will be able to save you?"
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego looked at each other and replied to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we did not make a mistake nor will we apologize for not bowing down. If we are thrown into the furnace, the God we worship will save us, and he will rescue us. But even if he doesn't, we want you to know, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up."
That made Nebuchadnezzar even more mad. Right away he ordered the furnace to be heated way hotter than it usually was and commanded some of the strongest soldiers to take Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to throw them in the fire.
The soldiers took the three men just as they were straight to the furnace. The men were wearing all their clothes including robes, their shirts and pants underneath that, and turbans on their heads. These things would catch fire very easily in the fire.
As the soldiers were pushing the men into the furnace the flames of the fire killed the soldiers, because the fire was so hot and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego fell into the hot, hot furnace.
Then king Nebuchadnezzar jumped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisors, "Weren't there only three men thrown into the fire?" They replied, "O, yes king." He said, "Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, untied and unhurt, and the fourth looks like some kind of angel!"
Nebuchadnezzar then came as close as he could to the furnace and shouted in the doorway, "Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, follower of the Most High God, come out! Come here!"
So the three men walked out of the furnace without any burns, no hairs on their head burned, all their clothes perfectly fine, and no smell of fire on them at all.
At that moment Nebuchadnezzar knew that they worshipped a real God not some fake statue. God had sent an angel to protect them from harm, and even more importantly he realized that they truly believed and trusted in God. They were willing to die rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.
So from that day on the king made an announcement that all the people, people of all languages could not say anything bad about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego's God or they would be badly punished.
The king then gave the three men even better jobs than they already had for the province of Babylon.
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