“Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.” — Daniel 3:28
In the book of Daniel we are witness to one of the most spectacular displays of faith and, conversely, one of the most glorious demonstrations of God’s salvation. Three Jewish youth, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who had been taken captive and exiled to Babylon, decided to disobey King Nebuchadnezzar.
The king had built a massive golden idol and declared that everyone under his rule must bow down and worship it. The penalty for failing to do so would be death by fire. The three young men refused as it would be committing idolatry — one of the three sins for which a Jew must choose death over disobeying that command.
When the matter was brought to the king, he was so furious that he ordered the furnace to be heated seven times hotter than it already was and that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be bound and thrown into it. The furnace was so hot that the soldiers who brought the convicted three to its door died immediately from the scorching heat. By all natural measures, the three youths should have perished in seconds.
Yet, this is what happened: “Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, ‘Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire? . . . Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods’” (Daniel 3:24–25). What Nebuchadnezzar saw was God’s angel in the furnace with the men. The angel had untied and protected them. When the men emerged, not only were they completely unharmed, but they also didn’t even smell like they had been anywhere near a fire!
In shock and awe, Nebuchadnezzar proclaimed: “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.”
Nebuchadnezzar recognized that the three youth’s faith was what caused God to send His angel to rescue them.
We’ve all heard of guardian angels. We’ve heard of modern-day accounts where people have felt saved by a stranger whom they suspected was an angel in disguise. However, as much as we value or believe in the assistance of angels in our lives, we can learn an important lesson from the words of Nebuchadnezzar.
The angel didn’t come of its own accord. It was the faith and trust that the men placed in God that caused God to send the angel. Our job isn’t to place our hope in angels. Our job is to place our hope steadfastly and completely in God and God alone. If we do that, He may just send the angel we need.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President