The story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego is one that many of us have heard throughout our lives. It is a dramatic story of three Hebrew men who refused to bow down to the golden idol and were, therefore, tossed into the fiery furnace. When King Nebuchadnezzar checked on them, he found a fourth person in the fire and none were consumed. He called them out of the furnace and then gave glory to the God of the Hebrew people.
It is a wonderful story of God's power over the idolatry and tyranny of the time. But it was also proof that some exiles in Babylon had learned the lesson of exile. If only their fellow Israelites had not bowed down to idols, God would not have allowed Babylon to take them captive.
God had sent many prophets to speak to His people—to warn them of their idolatry. If they did not return to Him, they would be taken into exile just as He had promised their ancestors in the covenant at Sinai. When they did not heed the prophets, their enemies attacked them and, little by little, they lost land. Even at the last minute, He gave them a choice to obey Him and the terms of the covenant with Him to save themselves.
Exile was the last resort and it pained God to see the waywardness of His people come to such a punishment. But the exile was intended to teach them the error of their ways. Here, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego demonstrated that they were heeding the lesson. They refused to bow down to the golden image.
God made an open show of their deliverance and even used King Nebuchadnezzar to make a royal decree throughout the empire about it. He wanted His people who were dispersed throughout the Babylonian Empire to know that three Hebrews had defied the king by refusing to bow down to his idol and God had delivered them.
If His people would return to Him and put away their idols, He would also deliver them. That was the lesson to be learned in exile and God used the king of Babylon to proclaim it. What a mighty God we serve!
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