In 2010, a mine collapse in Chile trapped 33 miners deep beneath the surface of the earth. Efforts to find them, and then to rescue them, involved hundreds of people from around the world, and took more than two months. In the end, in order to effect the rescue, a rescuer descended through a narrow borehole and strapped the trapped men, one at a time, into the 21” diameter capsule that would be winched up to return them to the surface and to safety. On day 69 after the collapse, and more than twenty-four hours after the first rescuer descended, all of the miners and the rescuers who had gone down into the mine to assist them were finally freed.
There was no way to rescue the trapped men without someone going down to join them in the mine. They could not be instructed in how to rescue themselves. They would not have made it out safely had not a few brave rescuers risked their own lives, entering the mine despite the potential danger of further collapse or a failure of the plan.
Let’s turn to Daniel chapter 3, the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and the fiery furnace, in light of this story of the rescued miners. The three Jews had faith that God was able to rescue them – but even if He did not, they declared that they would still be faithful and not bow down to the idol that King Nebuchadnezzar set up.
So, let’s picture this together. The assembled dignitaries and citizens were standing around, and they watched horrified as the guards were burned to death as they threw those three Jews into the furnace. What did our friends feel as they were tossed through the air toward the white hot flames? Did they regret their bravado? Were they afraid?
And what about God in this? God could have turned off the flames, right? Or He could have pushed the eject button and caused the three to spring forth from the furnace. Or, He could have put up a force field and prevented them from being thrown in to start with. But instead of those options, He chose to go in there with them. The three were freed from their bonds and were together with the Lord in the midst of the furnace, walking around, as the amazed onlookers saw. In fact, God rescued them with His own presence with them. They had nothing to fear from the king or his punishment, because Immanuel was right there.
In 2010, the world breathed a sigh of relief watching on live television as the miners emerged from the mine, one by one. We applauded, literally and figuratively, when everyone was out safely.
King Nebuchadnezzar was impressed, too. He changed his mind, and commanded that no one should speak a word against the God of those three, our friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abendnego, “for there is no other god who is able to rescue in this way.”
God came down into our place of being trapped and hemmed in by sin, and loosed our bonds Himself, and walked around with us – walks around with us still. Immanuel came down to rescue us.