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The Test By Fire





Nebuchadrezzar, the king, made an image of gold ninety feet high and
nine feet wide. He set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of
Babylon. Then he sent for the officers, the governors, the judges, the
treasurers, and all the rulers of the provinces. So they all came
together and stood before the image that Nebuchadrezzar had set up.

Then the herald cried aloud, "To you it is commanded, O peoples,
nations: 'The moment you hear the sound of the trumpet, flute, lute,
harp, bagpipe, and all kinds of musical instruments, you shall fall down
and worship the golden image. Whoever does not fall down and worship
shall be thrown into a burning, fiery furnace.'" So when all the people
heard the sound of the trumpet, flute, lute, harp, bagpipe, and all
kinds of musical instruments, all the peoples, nations, and races fell
down and worshipped the golden image that King Nebuchadrezzar had set
up.

But at that time certain Chaldeans came near to the king and made this
charge against the Jews: "O king, live forever! O king, you have
commanded that every man who hears the sound of the trumpet, flute,
lute, harp, bagpipe, and all kinds of musical instruments shall fall
down and worship the golden image, and that whoever does not fall down
and worship shall be thrown into a burning, fiery furnace. There are
certain Jews, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, whom you have placed in
charge of the province of Babylon. These men, O king, have not obeyed
your command; they do not serve your gods nor worship the golden image
which you have set up."

Then Nebuchadrezzar in his rage and fury gave command to bring in
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. When they were brought before the king,
Nebuchadrezzar said to them, "Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and
Abednego, that you do not serve my god nor worship the golden image
which I have set up? If you are now ready, as soon as you hear the sound
of the trumpet, flute, lute, harp, bagpipe, and all kinds of musical
instruments, to fall down and worship the image which I have made, well;
but if you do not worship, you shall at once be thrown into a burning,
fiery furnace. Where is there a god who can deliver you out of my
hands?" Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied, "O king, there is no
need of our answering you about this. Our God whom we serve is able to
save us from the burning, fiery furnace; he will save us out of your
hand, O king. But if not, know, O king, that we will not serve your gods
nor worship the golden image which you have set up."

Then Nebuchadrezzar was very angry and the appearance of his face
changed, as he looked at Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He ordered
that the furnace should be heated seven times hotter than usual. He also
commanded certain strong men who were in his army to bind Shadrach,
Meshach, and Abednego, and throw them into the burning, fiery furnace.
Then these men were bound in their cloaks, their tunics, their robes,
and their other garments, and were thrown into the burning, fiery
furnace. As the king's command was urgent and the furnace very hot, the
flames destroyed the men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
But Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down, bound, into the midst of
the burning, fiery furnace.

Nebuchadrezzar, the king, was so astonished that he rose up hastily and
said to his counsellors, "Did we not throw three men, bound, into the
fire?" They answered, "True, O king." He said, "Now I see four men,
unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are unhurt, and the
fourth looks like an angel."

Then Nebuchadrezzar went near the door of the burning, fiery furnace and
said, "Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God,
come out." Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out of the fire.
And the officers, governors, and counsellors who were there saw that the
fire had no power over the bodies of these men, and that the hair of
their heads was not singed and that their cloaks were not harmed, and
that there was no smell of fire. And Nebuchadrezzar said, "Blessed be
the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel to
save his servants who trusted in him and refused to obey the king's
command and have offered their bodies, that they might not serve nor
worship any god except their own. Therefore I command that every
people, nation, and race that shall say anything against the God of
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be cut in pieces and their house
shall be made an ash-heap, for there is no other god who is so able to
save as is this one." Then the king gave high positions, in the province
of Babylon, to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.





Next: The Handwriting On The Wall

Previous: A Kings Strange Dream



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