Dan. 3:16-30 NLT
16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty.
18 But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.”
19 Nebuchadnezzar was so furious with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego that his face became distorted with rage. He commanded that the furnace be heated seven times hotter than usual. 20 Then he ordered some of the strongest men of his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. 21 So they tied them up and threw them into the furnace, fully dressed in their pants, turbans, robes, and other garments. 22 And because the king, in his anger, had demanded such a hot fire in the furnace, the flames killed the soldiers as they threw the three men in. 23 So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, securely tied, fell into the roaring flames.
24 But suddenly, Nebuchadnezzar jumped up in amazement and exclaimed to his advisers, “Didn’t we tie up three men and throw them into the furnace?” “Yes, Your Majesty, we certainly did,” they replied.
25 “Look!” Nebuchadnezzar shouted. “I see four men, unbound, walking around in the fire unharmed! And the fourth looks like a god!” 26 Then Nebuchadnezzar came as close as he could to the door of the flaming furnace and shouted: “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!” So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego stepped out of the fire. 27 Then the high officers, officials, governors, and advisers crowded around them and saw that the fire had not touched them. Not a hair on their heads was singed, and their clothing was not scorched. They didn’t even smell of smoke!
28 Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise to the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego! He sent his angel to rescue his servants who trusted in him. They defied the king’s command and were willing to die rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. 29 Therefore, I make this decree: If any people, whatever their race or nation or language, speak a word against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, they will be torn limb from limb, and their houses will be turned into heaps of rubble. There is no other god who can rescue like this!”
30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to even higher positions in the province of Babylon.
In the back story, verses 1-18 of Daniel, chapter 3, we see the second close encounter of the eternal kind that Nebuchadnezzar had with the infinite and eternal God of all that is. Close on the heels of their rapid promotion along with Daniel to overseeing the nation of Babylon, these three other teen captives-turned-rulers were treated treacherously by the wicked Babylonian magicians whose very lives Daniel had just saved. They created the scenario, playing up to the king's insufferable ego, that the king should be worshiped vis-a-vis his golden statue whenever a signal sounded. This was not done out of respect for the king but simply because they knew the Hebrews would refuse to bow to a statue.
The inevitable happened and the plotters could hardly wait to turn in their Hebrew supervisors for refusing to bow. Daniel must have been out of town or he would have been there with them as well in this deftly laid trap. When they presented the men to the king the evil ones stoked and stroked his ego presenting their failure as unfaithfulness after all the kindness he had shown them by allowing them to be elevated in the first place. The trick worked and the king unleashed his anger ordering they be thrown in a fire seven times hotter than was normally used.
In the fire pit, there could be seen a fourth figure dancing around. That was the pre-incarnate Christ-- the Lord of the Universe. The three men knew, and had prophesied that God would deliver them from the fire, and He did. He was witnessed in their presence deflecting the heat from them and comforting them in joy. The King recognized that this fourth figure was supernatural. He then gave praise to 'the God of Shadrach, Meshack, and Abednego. His respect for their faithfulness to God caused the king to pause and realize how much more powerful God was than the false gods he gave lip-service to. He even made it a law that no one could 'speak a word against the God of these men under penalty of an horrendous death for themselves and their families. He rewarded the men with higher positions in government service. But the king was still short of where he needed to be. It will take several more encounters before he understands God and humanity in proper relationship.
People of great power and privilege most usually do not recognize that all they have comes from God. If they once knew it, they soon forget it. Riches and authority can blind us to our faith if we are not careful. God will not usually entrust us to be tempted beyond our capacity to withstand temptation (1 Cor 4;13) and that most likely includes riches and power. We who are not rich can praise God for that protection. We who are powerless can praise God for his shielding us from that burden.