Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, having been confronted with an ultimatum from King Nebuchadnezzar, stood in opposition to the king. They would not bow down to the large image that he had erected. What would be the result?
Daniel 3:19-23 (KJV)
Then was Nebuchadnezzar full of fury, and the form of his visage was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego: therefore he spake, and commanded that they should heat the furnace one seven times more than it was wont to be heated.
And he commanded the most mighty men that were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace.
Then these men were bound in their coats, their hosen, and their hats, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.
Therefore because the king's commandment was urgent, and the furnace exceeding hot, the flame of the fire slew those men that took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had enjoyed special favor from King Nebuchadnezzar since the time of Daniel's telling of Nebuchadnezzar's dream and what it meant. This, however, changed when they refused to worship the image. Verse 19 describes the great fury that he felt towards the three men. As a result, not only would the men be cast into the fiery furnace, but he ordered that the furnace be heated seven times higher than what was normally done. Then in verse 20 the king carried out his threat and had his most mighty men of the army bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and cast them into the fiery furnace fully clothed (verse 21).
The fiery furnace was probably shaped like a large beehive with an opening in the top where the three men would be cast into. There was also a door or opening at the bottom where the fire was regulated and the burned material could be removed. This would have been the opening at which Nebuchadnezzar would be able to observe what happened to the three men. (Showers, Renald E. The Most High God, The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry Inc., Bellmawr, NJ, 1982. p.34.)
Because the furnace was heated to such a high degree the strong men that had brought the three men to the top of the furnace by an inclined plane, were killed by the intense heat and flame. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego fell into the furnace.
The chance of escape was slim. Nebuchadnezzar had definitely taken precautions to prevent any opportunity.
1. The men were bound.
2. The men were fully clothed so that the fire would catch quickly.
3. The fire was extremely intense.
Yet, would God rescue the men or would His purposes be furthered more by their deaths? We'll deal with this next time.