Friendships make life enjoyable and difficult times bearable. Friendships are tested and strengthened by hardships. Such was the relationship between three young Jewish men deported to Babylon along with Daniel. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego helps us think about the real meaning of friendship. As much as these friends meant to each other, they never allowed their friendship to usurp God’s place in their lives – not even in the face of death.
Together they silently defied King Nebuchadnezzar’s order to fall down and worship the image of gold. They shared a courageous act, while others, eager to get rid of them, told the king that the three Jews were being disloyal. While this was not true, Nebuchadnezzar could not spare them without shaming himself.
This was the moment of truth. Death was about to end their friendship. A small compromise would have allowed them to live and go on enjoying each other, serving God, and serving their people while in this foreign land. But they were wise enough to see that compromise would have poisoned the very conviction that bound them so closely – each had a higher allegiance to God. So they did not hesitate to place their lives in the hands of God. The rest was victory!
When we leave God out of our most important relationships, we tend to expect those relationships to meet needs in us that only God can meet. Friends are helpful, but they cannot meet our deepest spiritual needs. Leaving God out of our relationships indicates how unimportant he really is in our own lives. Our relationship with God should be important enough to touch our other relationships – especially our closest friendships.
Strengths and accomplishments:
- Stood with Daniel against eating food from the king’s table
- Shared a friendship that stood the test of hardship, success, wealth, and possible death
- Unwilling to compromise their convictions even in the face of death
- Survived the fiery furnace
Lessons from their lives:
- There is great strength in real friendship
- It is important to stand with others with whom we share convictions
- God can be trusted even when we can’t predict the outcome
- Where: Babylon
- Occupations: King’s servants and advisers
- Contemporaries: Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar
Key verses: “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, ‘O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up’ “ (3:16-18).
The story of Shadrach (Hananiah), Meshach (Mishael), and Abednego (Azariah) is told in the book of Daniel.