Fiery Furnace 2

So this is a continuation of the last post tying together the fiery furnace story of Daniel 3 and Ash Wednesday.

One of my colleagues suggested that repentance is a common theme.  Sure enough, on Ash Wednesday we acknowledge our sin and need for God, asking for mercy.  Is there any repenting in the fiery furnace story?  In a strange sort of way, yes, there is.

King Nebuchadnezzar in unadulterated conceit has ordered that a golden statue of himself be made and worshiped by all in his kingdom.  Everyone is willing to go along and humor him, except three Jewish young men  who knew their ten commandments.  No way were they going to worship a statue, they politely said.  They would only worship the one true God, even when Nebuchadnezzar threatens them with being thrown into the fiery furnace or kiln.  The men (Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego) continue to refuse, are thrown into the furnace but are seen by the king walking around in the flames of the furnace with a fourth holy figure.  The astonished Nebuchadnezzar calls them out of the fire and proclaims their God the One people should serve.  In a way, the conceited king repents. And one point of this story, written down when the Jews were facing persecution in the 2nd-1st century B.C., is that standing up for one’s faith in God is a witness to the nations of the world, who might repent even and serve God.

The story ends with some tongue in cheek humor though.  King Nebuchadnezzar in an about face proclaimed that all people in his kingdom should now worship the God of Shadrach,  Meshach, and Abednego.  But his new faith, if one can call it that, didn’t soften him any.  In true despotic fury he threatened that anyone who did not serve the  God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego would be torn limb from limb!  Old habits die hard.

Which, of course, is why year after year we come to Ash Wednesday.  Old habits die hard and sin never quite goes away, does it? There is always some repenting business to take care of.


  1. Amen. Yes, over and over again.