Let me start with a story. A man who had survived the great Johnstown flood died and went to Heaven. And not long after, all of the inhabitants of Heaven were allowed to take center stage and tell everyone about the most significant event that had happened to them while on Earth. The man couldn’t wait to tell everyone about his surviving the great Johnstown flood. After a long wait in line, it was finally his turn. The man was so excited to tell everyone his story. But just as he was climbing the stairs to the platform, an angel leaned over to him and whispered, “Don’t forget; Noah is in the audience.”
I am reminded of that story when I read the Scriptural passage in Hebrews 12: “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses.” The witnesses the Apostle speaks of are the great champions who have gone on before us, which are mentioned in chapter eleven. Included by implication in the great “Hall of Faith” of Hebrews 11 are the three young Hebrews: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (verse 34, “Quenched the violence of fire.”)
So, what was it that got these three young men included in this list that along with the likes of Abraham, Moses, and David? You’ll find their story in Daniel chapter three. In a nutshell, they refused to bow down to the image of the king. In other words, THEY DISOBEYED A CIVIL GOVERNMENT THAT HAD BECOME TYRANNICAL. And for refusing to submit to the king, they were thrown into a burning fiery furnace.