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Imagine three men thrown into a furnace and then walking from it without burns or the odor of smoke.

This Week’s Story relives American history and the Bible through brief inspiring stories presented on mp3 audio recordings and text for reading.

I am great and small. part three

Being invisible shocks and fascinates me. I can drop into history wherever and whenever I please, but I can’t change history. In 2011 I visited one of Saddam Hussein’s castles in Babylon, Iraq. It was built when Saddam was terrorizing Iraqi people in the 1900’s. He spent millions of dollars on his new palace. Now he’s dead and his castle is marked with graffiti.

About 2500 years ago Nebuchadnezzar was the dictator in Babylon. Now he’s dead. One day I decided to visit Nebuchadnezzar. He was talking to a statue in front of him.

“O great god Nabu, how can you help me? I am your beloved. Are you as great as Daniel’s god? The god of my Jewish adviser Daniel showed me the meaning of a frightful dream I had. You revealed nothing to me. If I am going to be the most powerful king in Babylonian history, I must conquer many countries and extend the borders of my kingdom. I need the help of the most powerful god. Do you qualify?

I’m thinking, Nebuchadnezzar is a weird king. Does he believe a ceramic lump hears him? He’s not stupid. When he was only 29 years old he led the Babylonian military to victory over the Egyptians and Assyrians at the Battle of Carchemish.

Near the city of Babylon I go to see the dedication of a gigantic gold statue. The monstrosity is ninety feet tall and nine feet wide. Officials from all the provinces have been ordered to attend the event. The king has demanded that every person present bow to the ground and worship the statue as though it is a special god.

An announcer proclaims, “When you hear the sound of musical instruments, bow to the ground. Any person who refuses will be thrown into a furnace with a blazing fire.”  The instruments sound and like robots the people obey the king’s command.

A group of the king’s astrologers scurry to the king, “The three Jews you put in charge of the province of Babylon refuse to worship your gods or bow to your statue.”

The three are brought to Nebuchadnezzar. With immense displeasure he asks, “Is it true that you will not worship the statute? You have one more chance. If you do not obey, you will be thrown into the furnace. No god can rescue you.”

Without hesitation the men reply, “King Nebuchadnezzar, if we are put into the fire, the god we serve can protect us. Even if He does not save us, we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue.”

Rage twists the King’s face and he shouts, “Heat the furnace seven times hotter. Tie these stubborn wretches and throw them into the fire.”

Some of the king’s mightiest soldiers throw Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego into the hellish fire. The soldiers cannot escape the flames and burn to death in front of the crowd.

The king suddenly exclaims, “Weren’t three men put into the fire?”

“Yes!”

“But I see four men walking around. One looks like a divine being.”

Nebuchadnezzar calls, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the highest god come out!”

They come and people crowd around them. The men have no burns! They don’t even smell of smoke.

Nebuchadnezzar speaks, “Praise the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego! He sent his angel to rescue his servants. I decree that if anyone speaks against Him, that man will be executed. No other god can rescue like this.”

Babylonians go home, some in quiet thought and some bursting with words.

This is Scott Thomas for Barbara Steiner, unable to be invisible, but able to marvel at this story found in the book of Daniel in the Bible.

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