Editor’s note: This column is a fictional adaptation from the Book of Daniel, Chapter 3.
Samuel stared at his work.
Incredible, he thought, the man owns a kingdom and now he believes he can own the hearts of people, too.
Yet Samuel, the king’s lead artisan, could still hear the king’s words ring in his ears.
“Look at me,” King Nebuchadnezzar ordered, “and design a golden likeness of me!”
Sam had built facsimiles for vain despots in the past, but this was different. This statue would be made from gold and stand 90 feet high on the plain outside the city. Now, Samuel’s mother’s advice was haunting him. “Samuel,” she’d say, “Kings may own a kingdom, but only God can own the hearts of people.”
When the day of dedication came, a local composer had written a score for the occasion and the assembly was ordered to worship the statue on the opening notes of the score. It was threatened that those who refused to bow would be thrown into the furnace from which the monstrosity had come. But some thought that was a rumor.
Still, that was a rumor Sam and his family would not test.
“Too bad about those three guys in the back,” Sam would later recall to a co-worker.
The king ordered them arrested and brought for sentencing. Local media identified those guys as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
The crowd recognized the three as friends of Daniel. Daniel was the same guy who’d walked out of the Lion’s den.
Samuel watched the proceedings with some hope. He knew Neb respected Dan and seemed to be regretting his earlier decree. But suddenly, Neb blurted, “You’re commanded to worship my image or you’ll be thrown into the furnace.”
Abe, the oldest, had ready his reply. “The God we worship is able to deliver us.”
Blah, blah, blah, thought Sam. He’d heard this kind of trash talk before.
“But even if,” Abe paused, and restarted his declaration louder, “but even if God doesn’t help us, we still won’t worship your image.”
This “even if” talk was different. It was the first time Samuel heard someone talk about a god who had a will of its own, a god who not controlled by man.
And that’s when it happened. Or should I say that’s when nothing happened.
Nothing was happening to the men in the furnace. “Impossible!” declared a chorus of guards. The men seemed impervious to the heat and flames.
Yet, it wasn’t the three men who seemed to startle the Samuel the most.
“Didn’t we throw three men in that hell hole?” he asked. “Why do we now see four?”
The King’s words interrupted Samuel’s thoughts: “Come out of the furnace!” he ordered the three captives.
When they came out, Neb rescinded his order to worship the statue and had it destroyed. The people sang songs and rejoiced over the miraculous deliverance of Abe and his friends.
But at the end of the day, as Samuel sat talking with his wife, he couldn’t help but wonder aloud.
“I’m thinking we saw two miracles today, the second one greater than the first.”
His wife tilted her head and squinted as if to ask for more.
“The greatest miracle isn’t that we saw God deliver those men from the fire, the biggest miracle is that we now know a God who knows something about walking in the fire, and that’s a God I’ll worship every day.”