Everyday you and I make a choice...actually, several choices.
Who, or what, will we 'worship'?
What is our goal?
What is our life about?
Will we seek to 'fit in' or 'go along', or will we Stand Up?
Daniel's friends, Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego, were faithfully serving the Lord, in a hostile land. They were actually being blessed by God for doing so, to the point where they became leaders in the land.
...but King Nebuchadnezzar, even after learning that Daniel's God " is the greatest of gods, the Lord over kings, a revealer of mysteries" (Daniel 2:47) still doesn't get it. He decides to have a huge gold statue of himself made, and to require all people to bow down and worship that statue.
Can you imagine being so full of yourself that you, for example, would put your own face on Mount Rushmore? Or that you'd have taxpayers pay for a monument to yourself?
That's what Nebu did...and worse! He required that, when music played, all in the kingdom would bow down and worship this statue.
Well, not surprisingly, Daniel and his friends had a hard time with this.
Remember, they had refused to 'defile themselves' by eating the king's food, and they prayed to the Lord and gave Him credit for revealing secrets to them in the past (see previous posts). It would only make sense that this demand would be resisted.
Religious liberty was (apparently) not big on Nebuchadnezzar's priority list. He demanded that everyone worship his image.
But when the music played, Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego would not bow.
The king was told about this, and he had them brought in for questioning. He said, basically, 'look fellas, maybe I didn't make myself clear. If you don't bow to this statue and worship it, you will be thrown into the furnace, then NO god can save you'!
Their response was classic, and a GREAT response for us to remember:
“O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you.
If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty.
But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.” (Daniel 3:16-18)
What do WE learn from this?
First, that young people can have strong faith.
Second, that 'going along to get along' is NOT a Biblical value of faith.
Third, that risking death--even by getting thrown into a furnace--is preferable to 'worshipping' false gods.
Fourth, that even the possibility that God will not answer your prayers the way you prefer is not a reason to worship another God.
Fifth, that God is worthy of our trust and obedience, no matter the cost.
These young men STOOD UP! They stood their ground, even at great risk to themselves!
King Nebu was ticked! He had them thrown into the furnace, and wanted to make an example of them. He thought he'd be rid of them, and everyone else would bow from that time forward...but he could not have expected, or even imagined what happened next.
"But suddenly, Nebuchadnezzar jumped up in amazement and exclaimed to his advisers, “Didn’t we tie up three men and throw them into the furnace?”
“Yes, Your Majesty, we certainly did,” they replied.
“Look!” Nebuchadnezzar shouted. “I see four men, unbound, walking around in the fire unharmed! And the fourth looks like a god!”
Then Nebuchadnezzar came as close as he could to the door of the flaming furnace and shouted: “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!”
So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego stepped out of the fire. Then the high officers, officials, governors, and advisers crowded around them and saw that the fire had not touched them. Not a hair on their heads was singed, and their clothing was not scorched. They didn’t even smell of smoke!" (Daniel 3:24-27)
God had intervened!
He HAD delivered the 3 faithful servants!
He HAD done a miracle...and their faith was honored!
Nebu, fickle as he was, bowed down and worshipped the God of Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego...he would not do so consistently.
The message for us?
Do NOT give in to pressure to worship other gods!
Do NOT give in to pressure to turn your back on the TRUE God!
Trust God, no matter how He answers your specific prayer!
Be faithful...as they were faithful in the midst of tremendous pressure. Commit yourself to the Lord and He WILL come through!