During the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, he made an image and set it up in the plains of Dura for all his officials to pay homage to and worship. To this end, he issued a decree that whoever refused to bow down to the image after hearing the sound of a particular music would be thrown into the furnace of burning fire.
All the officers in his domain gathered together waiting for the sound of the music. At the hearing of the music all the officers bowed down and worshipped the image. But there were three Jewish high ranking officers namely Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who refused to bow down and worship the image. They were reported to king Nebuchadnezzar. They were warned in the presence of the king that if they failed to obey the decree, they would be thrown into a burning furnace. They replied that their faith was in God and in his power. They said that God of Is real would deliver them from the furnace. They told the king that they were prepared to be thrown into the furnace instead of bowing down to the image. Following this, the king ordered that the furnace be heated seven times more. The three men were thrown into the furnace. Even the men that threw them into the furnace died due to the great heat from the furnace.
To the king’s surprise, he saw four men as against three that were cast into the fire. The fourth man resembled the son of God. The king came closer to the fire and called out the three men. They answered him. Nebuchadnezzar then praised the God of the Hebrews when he discovered that the men were not hurt despite the great heat of the burning furnace.
As a result of this, the three men were promoted and the king issued another decree instantly that no one should speak against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.
The significance of the religious persecution suffered by the three Hebrew men can be explained as follows:
1. The unshaken trust, faith and confidence of the three men in the God they served were demonstrated.
2. It can also be pointed out that the men had courage by their action.
3. They did not doubt in their belief that God would deliver them from king Nebuchadnezzar.