Title: Shadrack in the Burning Fiery Furnace
Artist: Ruth Starr Rose
Size: 12.75″ x 16.75″
Credit: Gift of the Harmon Foundation
Description: In the center of the image is a burning building with transparent walls allowing viewers to see three men inside the burning building. Just behind the building, looking around the corner, is a devil with a pitchfork, watching the men inside the building. Coming down from the sky are numerous angels wearing firefighting gear. In the top left, there are three angels wearing fire helmets: the upper most angel is using a firehose to put out the fire while the middle angel is using a fire extinguisher, and below that is an angel carrying a ladder. In the center, directly above the building, is an angel with a parachute and fire helmet, holding a fire hose trying to put the fire out on the ground. In the top right corner is an angel on a chariot drawn by three horses. On the ground in the right corner are four angels filling buckets of water and flying them upwards. In the bottom left corner there are five onlookers with a sixth closer to the foreground who is wearing a crown, reaching upwards towards it.
Ruth Starr Rose’s Shadrack in the Burning Fiery Furnace is based on the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the third chapter of the book of Daniel. In this story, King Nebuchadnezzar made an image in gold and set it up “on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon” (Dan. 3:3 NIV). Once he did this, he told everyone that they would need to bow down and worship it whenever they heard the sound of music, or else they would immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace. When King Nebuchadnezzar finds out that three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, refuse to worship the image of gold due to their belief in God, he summons them to see him to ask them if that was true. The three men tell him that if they’re thrown into the blazing furnace, that their God will save and protect them before telling King Nebuchadnezzar that they refuse to worship any of the king’s gods nor his image of gold.
In response, King Nebuchadnezzar orders the furnace to be “heated seven times hotter than usual” (Dan. 3:19 NIV) and for the three men to be tied and bound then thrown into the furnace. The furnace was so hot that the men who had tied Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and put them into the furnace were killed, but Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were not, even after being tossed inside. In fact, the three men were walking around freely with a fourth man, who the king’s advisors claimed was an angel. At this, King Nebuchadnezzar shouted for the men to come out and when they did, they found that they were completely unharmed and didn’t have so much as the smell of smoke on them, which led the king to “decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way” (Dan. 3:29 NIV).