“Alright,” said the King. “We’ll try this one more time. I’mma play “Fix You” again and this time, when they get to that instrumental part in the middle, I wanna see all three of you on your knees telling my statue how awesome you think it is. If you got a problem with that, you can take it up with HR and by ‘HR’ I mean this giant, fiery furnace right here.”
Pretty intense stuff, right? I mean, I’ve had some unreasonable bosses in my day, but mostly they were just asking me to show up by 8:00am or stay off Facebook during working hours. Crazy? Absolutely. Maniacally obsessed with Coldplay? Not quite. This guy was on a power trip even Donny Trump could appreciate. Weird hair, out of control ego, threats of homicide – it had everything. And, yeah, those Jewish middle-managers were pretty well screwed.
But before we get into that, let me tell you how we got here. As you know, the Jews had a nasty habit of getting themselves conquered by neighboring countries. This was one of those times. About ten years before the “Fix You/Furnace Incident” the Babylonians had made like the ’96 Bulls and sucker-punched Israel into submission. After pillaging the temple and shacking up with most of the Jewish women-folk, the Babylonian army hauled a buncha Jewish kids back to Babylon – which was a lot like Baghdad except with fewer Nike shirts.
The three kids getting reamed out in the first paragraph were some of those prisoners. Their names were Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. In the Bible’s long tradition of hilarious names, these might be the best. The first two sound like you’re hocking a loogie and the third sounds like a yoga position. Throw in the Babylonian king, whose name was Nebuchadnezzar, and you’ve got the funniest collection of names this side of an inner-city elementary school.
So anyway, Rack, Shack, and Benny (Note: Veggie Tales reference!) were banging around Babylon with their good buddy Daniel. Yes, the “Daniel-in-the-Lion’s-Den” Daniel. No, they can’t get you an autograph. But what they did get was all kind of special favors from King Nebz since they were friends with Daniel. They were like those three schmoes on Entourage. Whenever Danny got a promotion, they got bigger houses. Whenever Danny got a raise, they got Sharper Image shopping sprees. And when the King made Danny regional manager of Babylon, he agreed to let Danny’s three amigos serve as assistants to the regional manager. Not a bad deal.
But then the King went nuts. He built this 90-foot tall statue of himself in the middle of a field and then gave all the government employees the day off so they could have a company picnic next to the statue. When everyone had finished their hummus and baba ganoush, the King made an announcement:
“Welcome to the first annual Nebuchadnezzar Appreciation Day. As you all know, I’m awesome. As you might have realized, this humongous statue of me is also awesome. Why do I tell you this? Because we’re about to play a song for you guys and when you hear it, I want you to get down on your knees and worship my statue. Throwing Mardi Gras beads at it is encouraged but not required. Cool? Alright, let’s do this…when you try your best but you don’t succeed…”
If you’ve ever met a government worker, you know they’re not much for thinking for themselves, or questioning authority, or doing much of anything besides filling out forms and gaining weight. The Babylonian bureaucrats were no different. The music started playing and everyone started praying. Everyone, that is, except Chad’s-rack, My-shack, and A-bungalo. The statue wasn’t God and it wasn’t Tim Tebow, so they weren’t about to bow down before it. A few sniveling rats from the Office of Code Enforcement saw our boys standing tall and tattled on them to King Nebz. And that takes us back to where we started.
So there the boys were, standing before their boss while he tore them a collective new one and threatened to “fire” them. Nebz liked these kids so he wanted to give them a second shot at it, but they told him to save his breath. They weren’t gonna do it. Not once. Not never.
“Our God can beat up your gods,” they said. “And even if he doesn’t, we’d rather die than worship your stupid statue, which by the way, looks more like a redneck Richard Gere than it does you.”
Nebz freaked out. He started chucking TV boxes, IKEA chairs, anything he could find into the furnace. When the thing was baking liking Albuquerque in August, he had the three guys tossed in.
Right away Nebz realized something was wrong. For starters, Shirt-rack, Meat-sack, and Winnebago weren’t as flammable as they were supposed to be. They just stood there in the middle of the inferno, high-fiving, playing hacky sack, and singing “Only The Good Die Young.” Secondly, there were four dudes in the furnace and Nebz was pretty sure he’d only thrown in three. And third of all, the fourth dude looked like some kind of god. Some scholars think this was Morgan Freeman from Bruce Almighty, but most agree it was probably Jesus.
King Nebz had seen enough. He called the guys back out of the furnace. When he saw that they weren’t burned or ashy, and that they didn’t smell like a bowling alley, he fell to his knees and started praising the God of the Jews. He called all the government employees over and made another announcement, this one directed at the Babylonian gods: “Marduk, Aku, Nebo, I’m really happy for you and I’mma let you finish, but Yahweh is the best God of all time. OF ALL TIME!”
And that’s how it was from then on. Also, Rack, Shack, and Benny got promotions. Booyah.