Then Nebuchadnezzar was filled with fury, and the expression of his face was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He ordered the furnace heated seven times more than it was usually heated. 20 And he ordered some of the mighty men of his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace. 21 Then these men were bound in their cloaks, their tunics, their hats, and their other garments, and they were thrown into the burning fiery furnace. 22 Because the king’s order was urgent and the furnace overheated, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. 23 And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell bound into the burning fiery furnace. – Daniel 3:19-23
I’ve had close encounters with terrible suffering only a few times in my life. Once I came upon a terrible auto accident. A Jeep carrying 4 college-age young people went out of control and rolled over several times. One of the passengers – a young woman was thrown out of the vehicle and lay in the middle of the highway in terrible pain. We offered prayers and shared the Gospel with the young woman. A few days later, however, she died.
I’ve not seen the kind of terrible suffering that Jesus endured before and during his crucifixion, or the extreme pain of being burned at the stake like Joan of Ark, or other terrible suffering such as that which was endured under Roman persecutions of the Early Church.
I’m not certain what motivates people to cause such pain in others, but it is clear that Nebuchadnezzar is inspired to bring as much pain and suffering to Shadrach,Meshach, and Abednego – as they were bound and thrown into the fiery furnace. Were they bound so that they could not try to relieve their own pain in any way? Even the men who threw these three faithful servants of God into the furnace were killed in the process.
Jesus says that the thief steals, kills, and destroys. He inspires others to do the same. It is clear, however, that such vicious evil will not win the day. Try as he might Nebuchadnezzar will not prevail against these three men. Not only that – and this is perhaps the most important thing of all – when the devil poured out his most ferocious and vile fury upon Jesus, by his faithful suffering and death overcame such evil for all time.
Sadistic torture will not win here in Daniel, nor in the end: Jesus has won by his redemptive love and faith in his Father’s goodness. He is our salvation and the victor over the most brutal persecution.