“King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, sixty cubits high and six cubits wide, and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon.” Daniel 3:1
“Then the herald loudly proclaimed, “Nations and peoples of every language, this is what you are commanded to do: As soon as you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, you must fall down and worship the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.” Daniel 3:4-6
Do you ever feel like the world is loudly proclaiming what’s expected of you? King Nebuchadnezzar laid out what was expected in his time. He was the government in charge and said, “This is how things are. This is the right way to do things.” Just because he said it was acceptable and it was right didn’t make it right. However, this little tag at the end, “obey or be thrown in the fire” caught the attention of a lot of people. Who really wants to end their life extra crispy? No thanks. So, what did they do? They bowed down and worshiped the statue when they were told to do so. Everyone was doing it so it must be right. Well, everyone except three men (there may have been more, but the author only decided to mention these three)—Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. And some people ratted them out.
“But there are some Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon—Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego—who pay no attention to you, Your Majesty. They neither serve your gods nor worship the image of gold you have set up.” Daniel 3:12
Well, of course the King was outraged to hear such a thing. Who did these three men think they were to oppose his command? Everyone else had accepted it as the new norm, why were they not willing to get with the program? The King pretty much told them, “Listen, I’ll give you one more shot. Bow down and do what you’ve been told regardless of what you believe. Because if you don’t, you’re going in the furnace and there’s no way you’ll survive that.”
“Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” Daniel 3:16-18
These three dudes were hardcore about their faith. No one, not even the king, was going to move them from what they believed. If you’re not familiar with the story let’s continue on…
“Then Nebuchadnezzar was furious with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and his attitude toward them changed. He ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual and commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. So these men, wearing their robes, trousers, turbans and other clothes, were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace. The king’s command was so urgent and the furnace so hot that the flames of the fire killed the soldiers who took up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and these three men, firmly tied, fell into the blazing furnace.” Daniel 3:19-23
Dang! One moment he’s giving them a chance to retract their statement and the next he’s tying them up and tossing them in the fire. I want to pause for a moment and consider their reply that threw him into this fit of outrage. These men told him, “We hear what you’re saying, but we’re still not going along with this popular new craze. We are willing to face the consequences that may result because we know our God will protect us. But even if he doesn’t, we still won’t change our minds.”
Where am I going with this? The world at large has some popular beliefs that they insist everyone should get on board with. The topics cascade across a wide range of categories. There are those in charge who promote their agendas just like King Nebuchadnezzar saying, “Get with the program and just do what you’ve been asked.”
However, some of the things I’m being asked to accept go against the Word of God. Therefore, as a Christian, I am faced with the choice to bow or burn. Thankfully, this isn’t Babylon so no one is threatening to throw me into an actual furnace. However, if I don’t accept this “new norm” and someone sees me opposing it there most certainly could be hell to pay. So, what then should I do, as a Christian?
Well, up to this point, I’ve mostly coasted along. If I don’t say anything then chances are no one will notice and it will all be good. The problem is that once something becomes socially acceptable everyone begins talking about it. And when everyone begins talking about it, you can no longer remain silent. Why? Because when you’re silent amongst a bunch of talkers you stick out just the same as a person standing while everyone else is bowing.
I’m not going to name the topics that are swirling around in America’s culture today but I’m sure you can speculate as to what they are. The point of this blog is not to state what I do or do not believe but instead to challenge other Christians as I am challenging myself—evaluate your stance. Are you standing for God or bowing for the world?
You know what I have found the worst part of all of this to be? It is getting harder to determine who is standing for God and who is bowing down. Some of those “bowing” are speaking with so much love and some of those “standing” are spewing out hate. Which at times makes me question if I am doing the right thing. “Well, the Bible say…” is being thrown around by both sides but when I investigate it for myself, it often turns out that what I have been told is not quite what the Bible says. Meaning, it might sound like the truth but it is not God’s truth.
There may be other blogs where I tackle specific topics but for today’s blog the topic is simple—evaluate your stance. God does not operate in gray matter. He makes it very clear that we are either for him or against him. I suppose the biggest conviction I’ve been faced with is this, if I’m living in a way to save face with others or save myself from persecution I am most certainly not living for God.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego chose the difficult road less traveled. What will I choose?
The story didn’t end with the furnace that day.
“Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished; and he rose in haste and spoke, saying to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?”
They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.”
“Look!” he answered, “I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.”
Then Nebuchadnezzar went near the mouth of the burning fiery furnace and spoke, saying, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here.” Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego came from the midst of the fire. And the satraps, administrators, governors, and the king’s counselors gathered together, and they saw these men on whose bodies the fire had no power; the hair of their head was not singed nor were their garments affected, and the smell of fire was not on them.
Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, who sent His Angel and delivered His servants who trusted in Him, and they have frustrated the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they should not serve nor worship any god except their own God! Therefore I make a decree that any people, nation, or language which speaks anything amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made an ash heap; because there is no other God who can deliver like this.”
These three men didn’t know what the outcome of their actions would be. In fact, they said, “Even if our God does not deliver us” which shows us that they knew there could be a bad outcome. Despite all this, they refused to back down from what God had told them. They refused to bow to anyone but God.
God, give me the strength to stand on your Word even if it contradicts popular beliefs. As a human, I know that I am imperfect, I know that I am probably the worst person to represent you because chances are I’m going to mess up and get it wrong at times. But, I pray that in those moments I will be quick to recognize my failure, repent, and turn back to You. Give me the strength to stand. Amen.
A New Identity
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