Serving Christ and sharing the Gospel

The fiery furnace (Dan 3:13-27)

Friends are great, aren’t they? I hope all of us here have some good friends. Here are some famous friends from TV and film:

  • Batman and Robin
  • Woody and Buzz Lightyear (Toy Story)
  • Bob the Builder and Wendy
  • Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson
  • Frodo Baggins and Sam Gamgees (Lord of the Rings)

A good friend is someone we can always rely on, someone who will be with us in good and bad times, someone who will help us through ‘thick and thin’. A good friend is:

  • Someone who will cheer us up when we are feeling sad;
  • A person who will give us advice when we are lost or confused;
  • Someon who will keep us company when we are feeling lonely; and
  • A good friend will help us whenever we are feeling scared or frightened.
  1. Three men who needed a friend!

In our true Bible story today (from the Book of Daniel) we heard about three men who really needed a friend. The three men had strange names. They were called Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were Jewish people living in a place called Babylon – the country we call Iraq today. Because they were Jews, they believed in one God, and would only serve and worship him alone.

But they had a problem. The king of Babylon was a man called Nebuchadnezzar (another strange name!). This king didn’t believe in their God, and he wanted everyone to work for him and worship him instead of God!

In fact, Nebuchadnezzar built a big gold statue and ordered everyone in Babylon to bow down before it and worship it instead of God.

But Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego could never worship a golden statue. They refused to bow down and worship anything or anyone apart from God. This made King Nebuchadnezzar really angry:

  • So angry that his face turned bright red when he found out.
  • So angry that he ordered the three men to be arrested and tied up with rope.
  1. An angel friend in the fire!

The king was so angry, in fact, that he ordered the men to be thrown into an enormous fire he had made. The three men were to be thrown into a giant bonfire, into a hot furnace seven times hotter than normal! Those three poor men were thrown into King Nebuchadnezzar’s fire because they would not bow down to his statue. How awful!

Those three men really needed a friend that day. A friend who could stop them being scared, a friend who would keep them company in the fire, a friend who could keep them alive. Amazingly, wonderfully, God DID give the three men a friend! Because when King Nebuchadnezzar looked into the fire he didn’t see three people there – he saw four. Instead of three men tied up and lying down, the King saw four men standing up and walking around - Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego…and an angel!

God had sent an angel to be with the men in the fire. An angel to be a friend who would walk with them and keep them safe in the fire. A friend who could help them when they needed it most.

  1. An amazing rescue!

When the three men were taken out of the fire they were alive and unharmed. They didn’t even smell of smoke! King Nebuchadnezzar realised that God had given the three men an amazing friend. An angelic friend who had kept them company and helped them survive an impossible situation. The king praised God for sending such a rescuer for Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego – a friend and rescuer from heaven!

What an amazing story! What an amazing friend God had sent to save his people.

  1. We need Jesus as our friend!

Thankfully none of us lives in Babylon, none of us lives under King Nebuchadnezzar and none of us is about to be thrown into a fire. But God has sent us someone to be our friend. He has sent us someone to help us when we are in trouble and keep us company when we are sad or lonely. God has sent us someone who can help us survive any impossible situation

The person God has sent us, of course, is Jesus. Jesus is an even better friend than an angel, because he is God’s own Son, God in human form. God’s own Son was sent into our world to be our saviour and our friend. Jesus can be our best friend ever because:

  • By his Holy Spirit he can live within us, helping us each day, however hard life gets;
  • By his words in the Bible he can show us how to live; and
  • By his Cross and Resurrection, Jesus can give us membership of God’s family forever.

And so, like the angel sent to help the three Jews in the fire, Jesus can help all of us today:

  • He can save us from our sin and forgive us everything we’ve done wrong;
  • He can help us live as God’s children; and
  • He can keep us company when we feel sick, sad or alone. He can stand alongside us when we face fires and trials in our own life. He can give us strength, courage and hope when the heat is on.

So do you want Jesus to be your friend? He promised that he will become the friend of anyone who wants him to. A friend forever. All we have to do is ask!