In the Bible: Daniel 1 – 3
God was unhappy with the people of Jerusalem because they were worshipping idols and doing all sorts of things that He didn’t like.
King Nebuchadnezzar, who ruled Babylon during that time, assembled an army of thousands of men to march into Jerusalem and conquer that land. God gave King Nebuchadnezzar all the livestock and treasure in Jerusalem. Every Israelite in Jerusalem was taken back to Babylon to serve as a slave.
The king ordered his chief of court officials, Ashpenaz, to bring him some of the most handsome, strong, and smart men of the royal line of Israel.
Among the men Ashpenaz brought in was Daniel, Hananiah, Mishal, and Azariah. “For three years, train these men in our language and customs,” said the king, “and give them a portion of food and wine from my table.”
Ashpenaz carried out the king’s orders, but when he went to feed Daniel and his friends, he protested. “Because I am Jewish, I am not allowed to eat all of these things, or drink the king’s wine,” said Daniel. “Please, give us only vegetables to eat.”
Now God had caused Ashpenaz to have compassion on Daniel and his friends. “I understand what you are asking, but I am afraid of the king,” he said. “He has set your meals, and if you look worse than the other men, then I will get in trouble.” “Test us for ten days,” said Daniel. “Feed us nothing but vegetables, and at the end of the ten days compare us to the other men. Treat us according to what you see.”
So, Ashpenaz secretly fed them nothing but vegetables for ten days. At the end of the ten days, he compared them to the other men. Daniel and his friends all looked healthier than any of the other men. “You will eat nothing but vegetables from now on,” said a smiling Ashpenaz.
God was with Daniel and his friends. He gave them all kinds of wisdom and understanding. They excelled at everything they did. God even gave them the ability to understand and interpret dreams.
The king talked with Daniel and his friends and found that nobody else in the kingdom came close to their level of wisdom and knowledge. He was so pleased that he gave them new Babylonian names, to Daniel he gave Belteshazar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishal Mishach; and to Azariah, Abednego.
Some time later, King Nebuchadnezzar was troubled by dreams, and he could not sleep. Finally, he could take it no longer. He called for all the magicians and astrologers in the land to interpret one of the dreams he kept having.
“Tell me the meaning of my dream, and I will reward you beyond anything you can imagine,” said the king. “But if you cannot tell me what my dream was and interpret it, you will die.” “Oh King, you are the greatest in all the land. Tell us your dream and we will interpret it for you.” replied the astrologers and magicians.
“Did you not hear me?” the king hollered. “You must tell me the dream and interpret it. That way, I know you are telling the truth.”
“But your highness, you ask the impossible,” cried the magicians and astrologers. “No one in the land can do what you ask.”
The king became angry and ordered that all of the magicians and astrologers be put to death because he could not trust them.
When Daniel heard this news, he asked Arioch, the commander of the king’s guard, “Why did the king issue such a terrible command?”
Arioch replied, “Because the astrologers and magicians could not tell the king about a dream he had been having, and interpret it for him.”
Daniel raced back home, and talked to Hananiah, Mishal, and Azariah, “Friends, we will be put to death if we cannot tell the king about his dream and interpret its meaning. Pray to God that He has mercy to tell us this secret.”
Daniel and his friends prayed, and that very night the vision came to Daniel. In the morning Daniel woke up. “Thank you Father, for showing us mercy and answering our prayer,” he said, and raced to see the king.
He told Nebuchadnezzar that God showed him everything about the dream, and exactly what it meant. Afterwards, the king fell to his knees, “Your God is the God of gods,” he said. “You and your friends are such good servants to me and to your God that I am going make you rulers and administrators over the entire land and put you in charge of all the wise men.”
Later, King Nebuchadnezzar built an image of gold and had it dedicated to Babylon by all sorts of important religious leaders in the land, saying, “Whenever you hear the sound of the harps, horns, trumpets, lyres, and pipes or music of any kind, you must bow down and worship the image. If you do not bow down to the image, you will be thrown into the fiery furnace.”
All of the people in the land bowed down to worship the image of gold that the king had built, except Daniel and his friends. When the magicians and astrologers learned that Daniels friends weren’t doing as the king commanded they told the king, and he became furious.
Daniel’s friends were brought before the king, “Shadrach, Mishach, and Abednego, I am told that you are not worshipping the idol as I have commanded. Is this true?” “It is true, oh king. We only bow down to the God of heaven and earth. We will never bow down to your worthless idol,” they replied.
Nebuchadnezzar slammed his hand down on his chair, “Then you will be thrown into the fiery furnace. Your God will not be able to save you in there.”
“Our God could indeed save us from the furnace. Even if he chooses not to, we will still not worship your idol,” said Daniel.
“So be it. Guards, take them away to the furnace.” So the guards took them to the furnace and stoked wood in the furnace so much that it melted pots around it. They tied up Shadrach, Mishak, and Adednego and threw them in the furnace. When the king came down to see them, he could not believe his eyes.
“What do I see? Were there only three men tied up? Why do I see four men walking around? One of them looks like an angel!” He fell back into his chair.
“Shadrach, Mishach, and Abednego, come out of there,” said Nebuchadnezzar.
They came out of the furnace, without a burn mark or even a scratch from the tight scratchy ropes.
The king was so amazed, that he worshipped God proclaimed that no one in the land could say anything bad about Shadrach, Mishach, and Abednego’s God. The only real God in the whole world.