Read Daniel 3
Focus on verse 16-18
Way back in the 80’s, I had the opportunity to make my college acting debut as King Nebuchadnezzar in the children’s musical we performed with the octet which at that time was called “Freedom Singers”. This musical took a few interpretive liberties casting the King as somewhat of a bi-polar neurotic narcissist – mostly I remember doing a lot of shouting in an angry sounding voice. The musical had a comedic tone to it and some peppy little tunes that were enjoyable to sing, but more importantly it clearly conveyed the message of how great our God was, is, and will continue to be.
In today’s reading in third chapter of Daniel, we get the story the way Daniel recorded it, and I again am struck by the stalwart faith of these three young men. They were given a second chance by the king to avoid the death sentence by bowing to the king’s image, and I find their response impressive.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “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 you gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” (v. 16-18)
What amazes me about their answer is that it becomes apparent that while they believed that God could save them, and that they hoped He would save them, they were also prepared to die for Him if that was what God had in mind.
There is also an intriguing little sub-plot going on behind the scenes that I believe is often overlooked when we read this story. In verse eight we read, “Therefore at that time certain Chaldeans came forward and maliciously accused the Jews.” I cannot but wonder if these might be the same Chaldeans who we will encounter again in a few chapters when Daniel spends a night in a den of lions. Apparently there were some local satraps, counselors, prefects, and magistrates who where jealous of the elevated positions of these young upstart Hebrew captives who the king seemed to be favoring. It would seem they saw this as an opportunity to advance their own reputations with the king as well as removing the men who stood in their way. As it turns out the plan back-fired and Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego end up being elevated even higher in the eyes of the king.
What strikes me every time I read this story is the amazing faithfulness of God to those who are willing to risk everything for His glory. These three young men were not looking for promotions. They were simply being faithful to God. It makes me wonder what God might do in our current secular culture with a few people like these young men, if they were willing to demonstrate this kind of faith in the public square?