Into the fire: Hanahaiah (Shadrach), Michael (Meshach), & Azariah (Abednego)

Into the fire

Today’s Reading Daniel 3

The story of the Three Hebrew Men : Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego is one of my favorite stories of the old Testament.  It is a story of faithfulness until the brink of death.   But as I become reacquainted with the story it has brought some new ideas to light.

These men had lost some major identifying elements in their early life: their home, their name, and their God.

In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the vessels of the house of God. And he brought them to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god, and placed the vessels in the treasury of his god. Then the king commanded Ashpenaz, his chief eunuch, to bring some of the people of Israel, both of the royal family[a] and of the nobility, youths without blemish, of good appearance and skillful in all wisdom, endowed with knowledge, understanding learning, and competent to stand in the king’s palace, and to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans. Daniel 1: 1-4

In the first chapter of Daniel, we are introduced to the scene with the capture of Jerusalem and the children are taken away from their home. The children are place in a type of assimilation servitude to make them into the image of the conquerors.

The next possession that these young men had taken from them was their names.  As was mentioned several blogs previous, the naming of the children in ancient Jewish times was a major deal.  Nebuchadnezzar changed all of their names.

And the chief of the eunuchs gave them names: Daniel he called Belteshazzar, Hananiah he called Shadrach, Mishael he called Meshach, and Azariah he called Abednego. Daniel 1:7

Daniel (which means ‘God has judged’) becomes Belteshazzar (‘keeper of the hidden treasures of bel’).  Hananiah (‘Jehovah has been gracious’) becomes Shadrach. Mishael (‘who is like God?’) became Meshach – a name that refers to Venus.  Azariah (‘Jehovah has helped’) became Abed-nego (‘the servant of Nebo’). These names were very powerful names and the meaning behind each has been hidden even until today.  The names that I have known these men by are the names that were forced upon them without their consent.  This could have robbed them of their blessings if they were not strong enough to maintain their faith.

The last possession that was attempted to be taken from the Three Hebrew Men was their God.  These men were known for their faith and their commitment to God from the beginning when they were instructed to have the same diet as the other trainees.  But it was evident after they had been appointed positions of authority that there were some individuals who disliked them and wanted harm for them.  

Therefore at that time certain Chaldeans came forward and maliciously accused the Jews. They declared[b] to King Nebuchadnezzar, “O king, live forever! 10 You, O king, have made a decree, that every man who hears the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, shall fall down and worship the golden image. 11 And whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast into a burning fiery furnace. 12 There are certain Jews whom you have appointed over the affairs of the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These men, O king, pay no attention to you; they do not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”Daniel 3:8-12


The king had created an image of him and demanded that all the subjects bow down and praise and worship the image.  The Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were the only ones standing and not following the commands of the king.  They stood up for their faith and were punished for their insubordination.  They were condemned to perish in a fiery furnace that was at such a temperature, the guards that placed them in the furnace dead from the heat.  But in the midst of the fire, God stepped in an protect them and released them from the fire.

26 Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the door of the burning fiery furnace; he declared, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here!” Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out from the fire. 27 And the satraps, the prefects, the governors, and the king’s counselors gathered together and saw that the fire had not had any power over the bodies of those men. The hair of their heads was not singed, their cloaks were not harmed, and no smell of fire had come upon them.  Daniel 3: 26-27

Some points to gain from the Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego:

  • No matter what has been taken from you, no on can take away your faith unless you submit to them.
  • In the midst of a world where everyone wants to conform, if you keep your values and will stand up for them when you are pressed: you will be rewarded.
  • God is already in the places that you are not aware of or certain.We have to be ready to see Him perform the miracles that he has promised.