The book of Daniel is another incredible display of God’s power and the courage of some of his people. The portion of the story that hit me today is contained in chapter three.
In this section, King Nebuchadnezzar had a 90 foot statue built and then organized an elaborate celebration, including music to inaugurate the worship of this new god created by him.
Daniel’s three friends, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego are brought before the king because they did not bow and worship as commanded. As a result, they were bound and thrown into the furnace after the heat was raised to seven times its normal temperature. Miraculously, they were kept from any harm and the king was overwhelmed with the greatness of their God!
One of the aspects of this story that is so impressive is the way Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego responded to the king’s command. Notice what it says in 3:16-18,
“O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”
With their very lives in the balance, they responded without wavering. As I read this almost 3,000 years later, of course I know they should not sin by worshipping another god, but in the moment, what pressure they must have felt to compromise! And yet, they simply said, “no.” Whether they lived or died really was not important to them. Obedience to God was what mattered. Everything paled in comparison to their allegiance to God. So for them, it was so simple. There was no real decision here. It was black and white. They must obey God and not let the potential consequences of their obedience confuse the decision.
I also think that it may have taken months for this image to be built. It is not too hard to imagine that they knew the intended purpose of that idol. As it was built over some months, they probably wrestled with what they would do if they were required to worship that image. When the day came, they were ready.
Should it not be as simple for us today? I find myself entertaining debates with myself about obedience at times. It really is so simple. I must have my allegiance to God above anything else. When I do, what seems like a hard decision, or tempting, will easily fall into its proper place. I simply say “no,” just like they did.
Father, thank you for this amazing display of courage in the lives of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. When life becomes complicated, may I remember that simple obedience is what you expect from me. I need to trust you with the results of my obedience just like Daniel’s friends. May fear of the consequences not cloud my choice to obey.
Following Jesus with you,