Conscious of the Consequences

Nebuchadnezzar was filled with fury . . . He ordered the furnace heated seven times more than it was usually heated. 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.”—Daniel 3:19-20 (ESV)

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego gave Nebuchadnezzar their final answer to his proposal that they bow down to his golden image: no. And it produced a response in the king that’s consistent with his character up to this point in the Book of Daniel. He was furious!

Being unconditionally obeyed by everyone around him, hearing this “no” from three young Hebrews was more than the monarch could bear. So, he commands the execution furnace be heated seven times more than usual before throwing them in.

It wasn’t necessary to heat the furnace like this to kill these men. Why do it? It was meant to eliminate any doubt about who was in control and who wasn’t. Keep in mind this whole scene is based on Nebuchadnezzar exerting his authority above and beyond what God previously revealed to him in his dream. These men may have defied his decree to bow, but his authoritative word would be his exclamation point to the end of their story and their God.

Watch what happens as the result of Nebuchadnezzar flexing his authoritative muscles by heating the fiery furnace: “The flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego” (Daniel 3:22 ESV).

With the furnace being so overheated, the executioners charged with the task of throwing Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego into it were instantly killed! Now, these men were no angels. It’s hard to conjure any sympathy for them. But consider this, their lives ended because of another man’s impulse to flaunt his power in defiance of God. In other words, one person’s sin had devastating consequences on the lives of others.

Although our circumstances are quite different from Nebuchadnezzar’s, this underlying principle of sin is much the same. When we sin, the consequences aren’t confined to just us. We don’t just hurt ourselves by going against God’s will; we hurt those around us.

This should make us think twice whenever we’re led to think, I’m just hurting myself by doing, saying, or thinking this. That’s never the case. Sin’s consequences will ripple out from the sinner and eventually touch innocent people around them. May we remember this whenever we’re tempted to think that we sin in a vacuum.

DIG: What was Nebuchadnezzar’s command a demonstration of?

DISCOVER: What sin principle that we see here also applies to our lives?

DO: How can you be more conscious of the consequences of your sin? Be intentional about weighing the weight of sin before engaging in it.