This reading is Daniel 3.
Near the end of chapter two, King Nebuchadnezzar said to Daniel, “Surely your God is the God of gods and the Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, for you were able to reveal this mystery.” We don’t know how much time elapsed between chapters two and three, but Nebuchadnezzar obviously had a change of heart somewhere in between. He apparently liked the statue concept and decided that his should be gold from head to toe.
Shardrach, Meshach and Abednego refuse to bow down before the statue and this enrages the king (We’re not sure where Daniel was . . . presumably out of town, as it is hard to imagine him bowing to the statue). They make a stunning witness to the king in verses 16-18:
“O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”
What faith! They could have come up with many excuses to worship the statue, but they held firm. Are we bold enough not to worship the world’s idols, especially when it costs us money, prestige or safety? Think of how our society worships gold in the metaphorical sense – money, possessions and status. I don’t think we can stand up to such pressures with our human wills, but we can pray for the Holy Spirit to strengthen us for these challenges.
Who was the fourth person in the furnace? It could have been an appearance of the pre-incarnate Christ or perhaps and an angel.
The next reading is Daniel 4.