Daniel 3-4, 1 John 5 • Key Verses: Daniel 3:17-18
The following is a “trick” question, not intended merely to fool a person but to provoke thought. The question is, who were the first martyrs? In one sense the correct answer is Stephen in Acts 7. He died for refusing to renounce his faith. The thought-provoking answer is Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Now the argument begins. How could they be martyrs since they did not die in the fiery furnace?
A martyr is one who sacrifices his life rather than renounce his belief. That is exactly what these three men did. They should have died.
The temperature of the furnace into which they were thrown had been increased to seven times hotter than normal. The flames were so fierce that the soldiers who took them to the blazing furnace died. But Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego did not. God protected them.
Martyrs or not? There’s no argument that they were willing to die for their faith. To the king they said, “We will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up” (3:18). Still, they are not remembered as martyrs but as men who stood for God even when threatened with death.
Few of us will ever be in the same situation, yet the sad truth is that thousands of people around the world die every year because of their faith. We should pray regularly for those who are confronted with the choice to renounce Christ or die.
And we should pray that if we ever face that choice, our resolve will make us stand for the One who died for us.
Ask God to help you resolve to never deny your faith.
Woodrow Kroll & Tony beckett