Bible Story of a Brave Trio: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego

Meet the Young Men with Uncompromising Faith Even in the Face of Death

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and a fourth man in the flames. Peter Dance / Getty Images

In chapter three in the Book of Daniel, we are introduced to three young men: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hold on to their belief in God even when threatened with a fiery death. Their story serves as inspiration for those who question their faith or who face hardship for their beliefs.

The Siege of Jerusalem

The story takes place about 600 years before Jesus Christ was born when King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon besieged Jerusalem and took captive many of Israel's finest citizens. Among those deported to Babylon were four young men from the tribe of Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.

Once in captivity, the youths were given new names. Daniel was now called Belteshazzar, Hananiah was called Shadrach, Mishael was called Meshach, and Azariah was called Abednego.

These four Hebrew youths soon proved themselves to be exceptionally wise. As a result, they found favor with King Nebuchadnezzar. When Daniel turned out to be the only man capable of interpreting one of Nebuchadnezzar's troubling dreams, the king placed him in a high position over the whole province of Babylon, including over all of the wise men of the land. At Daniel's request, the king appointed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego as Daniel's advisors.

Worship of a Golden Statue

King Nebuchadnezzar had a huge golden image built as a symbol of his power and glory. He then commanded that his people bow down and worship this image whenever they heard the sound of his musical herald. Those who disobeyed the order would be thrown into an immense, blazing furnace.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, however, worshipped only the One True God, and they refused to bow down to the false idol. They were brought before Nebuchadnezzar to face their fate but remained courageous in the face of the king's demand to bow down before the golden statue. They said:

"O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up." (Daniel 3:16-18, ESV)

Furious, Nebuchadnezzar ordered the furnace to be heated seven times hotter than average. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were bound and cast into the flames. The fiery blast was so hot it killed the soldiers who had escorted them.

But as King Nebuchadnezzar peered into the furnace, he marveled at what he saw:

"But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods." (Daniel 3:25, ESV)

Then the king called the men to come out of the furnace. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego emerged unharmed, with not even a hair on their heads singed or the smell of smoke on their clothing.

Needless to say, this made quite an impression on Nebuchadnezzar who declared:

"Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set aside the king's command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God." (Daniel 3:28, ESV)

Through God's miraculous deliverance of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego that day, Nebuchadnezzar declared that the remaining Israelites in captivity were now protected from harm and were guaranteed freedom of worship. And Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego received a royal promotion.

A Question of Deliverance

Who was the fourth man Nebuchadnezzar saw in the flames? Bible scholars believe he was either an angel or a manifestation of Christ. Regardless, his appearance was miraculous, a heavenly bodyguard sent by God to protect Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego during their intense time of need.

However, God's miraculous intervention in a moment of crisis is not promised. If it were, believers would not need to exercise faith. The lesson here is that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego trusted God and were determined to be faithful without any guarantee of deliverance. They had no assurance they would survive the flames, but they stood firm anyway.

Today's Christians might not be threatened by fiery death, but many are tested nonetheless. Those facing tough times might look to this story for inspiration, knowing that it is possible to stand firm in their faith even if God does not come to their rescue.