Today’s Reading is Daniel 3:1-30.
The story of the fiery furnace has first been picked up about 100 BC:
“Ananias, Azarias, and Misael, by believing were saved out of the flame.
Daniel for his innocency was delivered from the mouth of lions.
And thus consider ye throughout all ages, that none that put their trust in him shall be overcome.”
1 Maccabees 2:59-61
It was still unknown to the apocryphal book of Sirach, written about 180 BC, that contains a long section (chapters 44-50) in praise of “famous men” from Jewish history that does not include Daniel.
Where does that leave us as far as context goes?
Well it cannot be a real story of a bunch of Jewish wannabe martyrs during the Babylonian Exile. But it is a very real story of how the Jewish people dealt with persecutions by the Greek Seleucid king Antiochus IV Epiphanes who ruled from 175–164 BC, and his desecration of the altar in the temple at Jerusalem. It is almost like a prayer: Almighty God, strengthen my faith today. Deepen my faith in moments of temptation, and make me ever confident in your love and protection. Surround me with your care today. Amen.