Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered
and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar,
we are not careful to answer thee in this matter.
At first glance, this might seem to be an insignificant verse of Scripture. Out of all the verses in the Bible, why would I choose to feature this particular passage? We all know the story of Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego from our Vacation Bible School days. But did you know that these are the Babylonian names of the Jewish boys taken into captivity after the fall of Jerusalem?
Their real names were Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. This is important to know because of what their names mean in Hebrew. Hananiah means "Beloved of the Lord"; Mishael means "Who Is As God"; and Azariah means "The Lord Is My Help." Furthermore, each of these boys have a reference to their God in their names. “El” signifies Elohim (God) in Hebrew. We see that in Mishael and his fellow captive, Daniel. “Ah” signifies Yahweh, the sovereign and personal name of God. We see it in Azariah and Hananiah. You can believe that none of these boys could escape the reminder of their religion, and that each of them cherished their names in secret. Their very identities are a sign of their service to their God, which they were not able to resist.... even when faced with a fiery furnace.
So that brings us back to the sixteenth verse of the third chapter of Daniel. Everyone else has bowed to the golden image of Nebuchadnezzar, and here stand our three heroes; quite conspicuous and easily seen above all the prostrate figures on the ground. The Babylonian king is furious and threatens them with a fiery death. He asks them Is it true, Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up?
Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah answer him in verse 16, essentially saying, "There's no reason for us to answer this question because you wouldn't understand our explanation." You see, they had God's commandment in Exodus 20:4-6 written on their hearts .... You shall not make for yourself a carved image ... you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
For them, the REAL issue is the question Nebuchadnezzar asks at the end of his harangue .... Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?
Our heroes know that not only is their God able to deliver them from the King's hand, but that He will deliver them. The real question is will it be an earthly deliverance out of the fiery furnace, or will it be deliverance through martyrdom (and death in the furnace). So they are basically telling the king, "Let's forget about our reasons for not bowing down, and let's talk about our obedience to our God, regardless of what happens to us."
Their response is an amazing example of Courageous Faith and Faith that is Fully Resigned to the Will of God. I find myself asking if I will live up to this example. In the dark days to come, will I stand against Evil and proclaim my obedience to Jehovah Adonai when all those around me are bowing to protect their lives? Will I be able to say, "Let's forget about this demonstration you're asking me to make (taking the Mark of the Beast) and let me tell you about my God?" I pray I will have the courage of Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah.