“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.” Daniel 3:18
All of Daniel 3:1 – Daniel 4:3 spoke to me today. It is a story most are familiar with, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and the fiery furnace. The book starts out with King Nebuchadnezzar building a golden image of himself. Twice in the first three verses, it is mentioned the leadership – the satraps, the prefects, and the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the justices, the magistrates, and all the officials of the provinces that is present for this occasion. People bow and worship, but the Chaldeans let the king know that three Israelite boys didn’t obey the order. The king gets mad; he gives them another opportunity. They let him know that regardless of the order, the God they serve could deliver them, but just in case He didn’t, the could not serve his gods or worship his image. They gave their testimony in three sentences the king,
“O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17 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.[a]18 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.” Daniel 3:16-18
The king was enraged. He had valiant warriors bind the three boys. He ordered the furnace to be heated to seven times the normal heat. It was so hot, that the people charged with throwing the boys into the fire were killed by the flame. The boys were thrown in, and the story could have ended there.
Yet, when they looked in to the fire the boys were loose, walking around in the fire, and there was a fourth person with them. King Nebuchadnezzar called the boys out. They were alive, completely unscathed by the fire, and didn’t even smell of smoke. The leaders were there to inspect and witness that they were perfectly fine. Their willingness to die instead of compromise was a testimony that didn’t need a sermon.
The king’s response is found in verses 28-30 where he blesses God. He decrees no one can speak ill of God. He promotes the three boys who previously defied him.
“Nebuchadnezzar answered and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set aside the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God. Therefore I make a decree: Any people, nation, or language that speaks anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be torn limb from limb, and their houses laid in ruins, for there is no other god who is able to rescue in this way.” Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the province of Babylon.
That was not enough for King Nebuchadnezzar though because the next chapter shows a pagan king declaring the wonders of God to all the people!
King Nebuchadnezzar to all peoples, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth: Peace be multiplied to you! It has seemed good to me to show the signs and wonders that the Most High God has done for me.
How great are his signs,
how mighty his wonders!
His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
and his dominion endures from generation to generation.
That is faith that is contagious. Three boys that were taken captive (See Daniel 1:1-6) didn’t seek an audience with the king, but they influenced him. They were bullied by the Chaldeans to the king, and they claimed God as their defender even before He acted. The pagan leaders wanted them to die; God used it for His glory.
I have heard of modern day martyrs with similar testimonies; not willing to back down in the face of persecution or even death. They know compromise is not an option in their faith. Their testimony stands, regardless of the physical outcome. I wonder how many remember this story as they stand strong. Hoping and praying that their stance will also impact the leader or even a nation. I am sure some have; many more have died for the cause of Christ. Their testimony remains.
How many of us back down? Not in the face of persecution or death, but in stated opinions of man or even perceived opinion of others. We back down as to not offend. Do we consider that in sparing man’s offense we are offending God? Do we consider that our witness may be the only Bible that someone reads? Do we fathom that God might be using that very moment to reach others through our commitment to Him? Do we recognize the glory that we are robbing God of when we stay silent or worse back down?
Because three enslaved boys took a stand for what they believed, a pagan leader declared God to the people. What can God do through us if we are willing to say “I’m not going to serve” to the opinion of man? Or to things that are against His Word? They said “I’m not going to serve” by faith. We have Holy Spirit within us empowering us to declare the same.
Prayer – Holy Spirit, help me to stand and boldly declare “I’m not going to serve.” knowing You are with me. God still reigns, despite anyone else’s opinion!