Daniel 3: 24-25 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?” They replied, “Certainly, Your Majesty.” He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”
Our little country church was somehow gifted with a truly wonderful pastor. Bro. Shane is a true man of God, and he preaches with a passion for saving lost souls and at the same time works hard shepherding the flock. We have learned so much from his sermons. Yesterday was a perfect example of it. I have heard the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego since my early childhood days, but I had never really thought about it as a Christmas message. I learned that it is actually a Christmas story, and in fact, Christmas came early for these three Jewish teenagers.
Y’all remember the story. It’s very familiar. King Nebuchadnezzar decided that all of the people must bow down and worship his gods and his giant statue every time they heard music play. There were people in the administration that didn’t like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and they made sure that the king was aware that they were not following the decree to worship the king’s gods and statue. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to follow the culture of the people around them. They stood strong in their faith in the one true God. The king called the teenagers before his throne, and he gave them a chance to change their minds and follow his decree. But they stood firm in their faith even when their lives were in danger. They stood firm. The young men informed the king that their God would rescue them, and even if He didn’t, they would not worship his gods or bow to his statue.
The king was infuriated, and commanded that the fire be heated to seven times hotter than usual. He had the teens bound and thrown into the fire. The fire was so hot that the men throwing them into the fire died instantly. But God! Oh but God! Don’t you just love that phrase? King Nebuchadnezzar noticed that the three young men were walking around seemingly unharmed in the fire, but they were NOT ALONE. There was a fourth figure in the fire, and even the king recognized that the fourth person looked like a son of the gods. The king ordered that the teens be removed from the fire, and they came out without so much as a hair on their heads singed. They didn’t even smell like smoke! They were not alone in that fire. Jesus was there with them. Wait a minute…Daniel is part of the Old Testament. That was before Jesus was born, right? That was before the Christmas story. That was before the nativity, quite a few years in fact. We have to remember that Jesus didn’t just evolve when He was born as the baby in Bethlehem. He has always existed, and He is intertwined throughout the entire Bible, including the Old Testament. It is true, Christ appears in every book of the Bible. Sometimes He is spoken of in words, sometimes in shadows, and sometimes in prophecy, but He is revealed throughout the scripture from Genesis through Revelation.
Yes, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were able to experience the gift of Christmas early. Christ came to them while they were in the fire. Those young men didn’t turn their backs on God, and He didn’t abandon them when they needed Him most. He stood with them in the fire, and He rescued them just as He rescues us. We may not be in a literal fire, but as Christians we are going to find ourselves in hot spots from time to time. The world wants us to be like them. Non-believers don’t like that we are different from the world. They don’t like that we are filled with joy because of our faith, and they want to steal that joy. They want to ostracize us, isolate us, and make us feel alone. Paul told us that we would suffer, but that we should count it all joy! We have so many reasons to be joyful.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego experienced Christ coming to them in the fire. Later, that same Christ that rescued those young Jewish boys came to rescue you and I. Christmas came for us too, and it came right on time! Christ came for you, and He came for me! And because He came, we never have to worry about being alone. Nothing or no one can steal our joy, and we have so much to celebrate! No matter how hot the fires seem to be that you are facing, you are not facing the fire alone! Christ is with you. He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, and He will never leave you!