The King and the Furnace - Gospel in Life

The King and the Furnace

Tim Keller |  August 21, 2011

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  • Suffering
Daniel 3:14-29
RS 331-08


Theophanies are episodes in the Old Testament when God appears visibly and/or audibly. These appearances of God are very powerful and dramatic. They teach us about Jesus who is the ultimate theophany — since Jesus is actually God who has come in the flesh.

Today’s passage in Daniel takes place in the sixth century BC, 600 years before Christ. Babylon was the preeminent power in the world and it had conquered Israel. The professional classes were exiled to Babylon and pressured to assimilate to the Babylonian way of life. One of the Jewish exiles, Daniel, and his friends are put to the test when forced to adopt Babylonian values. Today we’re going to learn about 1) the pressure of pluralism, 2) the precision of truth, and 3) the promises of suffering.

Daniel 3:14–29

The story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, living as outsiders in Babylon around 600 BC, shows how they refused to give up their Jewish faith and bow to the king’s golden statue, even when threatened with death. Their story teaches us about living faithfully in a world with many beliefs, the importance of a true and sincere faith, and how suffering can bring us closer to God. It also hints at the coming of Jesus, the greatest example of God revealing Himself to us.

1. The pressure of pluralism

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego stood up to King Nebuchadnezzar and refused to worship his gods. This shows the pressure they felt to fit in and keep their faith private. Their brave decision to keep their faith public, even when threatened with death, is an example for Christians today. Like them, we should stand strong in our beliefs, even when living in a society with many different faiths.

2. The precision of true faith

The story of the three men in the furnace shows us what a pure and uncompromising faith in God looks like. They were devoted to God, no matter what would happen to them. This shows a faith that loves and serves God because of who He is, not because of what we can get out of it. This kind of sincere faith prepares us to face anything, making us spiritually immune to life’s fiery trials.

3. The promises of suffering

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s miraculous survival in the furnace shows that suffering can change us for the better. This is a truth that our culture often forgets. According to the Bible, suffering can shape our character, deepen our trust in God, and make us more compassionate and self-aware. Jesus showed us that trusting in God during tough times can lead to salvation and give our suffering meaning, reminding us to always be thankful for God’s presence.



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