In our previous article, the three friends of Daniel had just defied the order to bow to the golden idol of Nebuchadnezzar. It was a set up from the beginning but King Neb did not know that.
Then Nebuchadnezzar in his rage and fury commanded to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. Then they brought these men before the king.
Now the king had already said that whoever would not bow to the image would be thrown into the furnace, yet he calls these men before him to ask them personally. This would suggest that the king was keen to give these men a second chance. We already know from the end of chapter two that these men were in prominent governmental positions in the province of Babylon (Dan 2:49), and no doubt the king wanted to avoid having high ranking officials perform a public act of defiance against him, particularly on this day when all the people were gathered together on the plain of Dura.
Nebuchadnezzar spake and said unto them, Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, do not ye serve my gods, nor worship the golden image which I have set up?
Neb still didn’t “get it.” The fact that the king addresses them by name and the manner in which he does so again suggests that up until this time they had had a good relationship with the king. The idea in the Aramaic is ‘did you intend to do this, was it on purpose?’ The king is hoping that it was just a misunderstanding and was not going to be something that would spoil his special day. But as we will see, these men had purposed in their hearts (also see Dan 1:8).
“Purpose is something that comes through meditation; you have to think about what you’re going to do if you face this circumstance or that circumstance. And when you are prepared and the circumstance happens, you react to that which you have meditated on. So if you meditate on that which will not be helpful, then when you are in that potentially compromising situation you will do that which you have meditated on”. (Ron Matsen)
This is precisely why we are told to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Rom 12:12), and to ‘think on these things’ (see Philippians 4:8), setting our affection on the things above (Col 3:2). When we think on these things there is no room for other distractions or actions.
Now if ye be ready that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of music, ye fall down and worship the image which I have made; well: but if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?
So the king reiterates the decree and offers them a way out of this situation… a second chance. How many of us would have had second thoughts at this time? After all, to be given a second chance may be God providing a way of escape. How easy it would have been to rationalize that Idols are not real gods; surely it would have been better to give in to king Neb’s command and ‘live to fight another day’? Would bowing be such a bad thing if we didn’t mean it in our hearts?
What about us? Us being those religious crowds in church. Often we sing our songs in church on Sunday about being completely abandoned, surrendering all, serving God with a whole heart etc. etc. yet on Monday when we are asked questions by the world, how do we answer? Do our lives demonstrate fruit ‘worthy of repentance’ (Luke 3:8)? We have all been there, backed into a corner with no apparent way out. We start to reason to ourselves: “It’s not really lying, the truth would do more harm than good”; “it’s not really theft, just ‘borrowing’”; “It’s not really wrong, it’s just… (fill in the blank)”; it’s not really worshipping an idol to bow down and pretend…is it? Even when quoting the Lord’s Prayer in unison, it includes those who have no forgiveness of heart and those who have not Jesus in thought, but themselves quoting a prayer for unsound religious activity. “Forgive us (me) our sin Lord just like the person sitting next to me does.”
“Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not: They have ears, but they hear not: noses have they, but they smell not: They have hands, but they handle not: feet have they, but they walk not: neither speak they through their throat. They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusts in them. O Israel, trust thou in the LORD: he is their help and their shield” (Psalm 115:4-9)
Of course we know that bowing was not an option to these three men, nor could it be. The reputation of the God of Israel was on the line. The king’s statue was a public act of defiance against their God and the Chaldeans [religious Babylonian priests] were just waiting for them to crumble. Yet these men knew the law which clearly stated: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.” (Exodus 20:3-6)
“Every day God will find a way of asking you ‘Do you trust Me?” Chuck Missler
In scripture, those who have made great professions of faith have often had that profession tested to a breaking point. It is the heating up and subsequent hammering of steel that gives it its strength; molded by God’s Spirit. A true example of Christianity.
The king asks: ‘and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?’ Great question O’ king! Hmmmmn? “He who seeks finds”! (Luke 11:10)
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter.
The Aramaic word that the KJV translates as ‘careful’ is ‘chashach’ (khash-akh’) meaning to ‘have need of’. In other words they were saying to the king ‘we have no need to answer you, we are not accountable to you but to God’. It also implies that they were not anxious about this situation. It also may mean they were not defending their action; they could side-step it all. They ultimately answer to God, not Nebuchadnezzar. Neb did not understand that.
If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.This is an incredible statement of faith that comes from a life deeply rooted in God. “Let them now that fear the LORD say, that his mercy endureth forever. I called upon the LORD in distress: the LORD answered me, and set me in a large place. The LORD is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me? The LORD taketh my part with them that help me: therefore shall I see my desire upon them that hate me. It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man. It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes.” (Psalm 118:4-9) Jesus said “fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”(Matt 10:28) Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen….(Hebrews 11)
But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.
Thus they make it clear, they will not bow down to this image or worship any other foreign god. There is only one God for these men and they will not compromise regardless of the cost. Remember that these men lived before the cross and without knowing all that Jesus suffered and endured to purchase our freedom.
It is amazing the lengths that some people will go to, to worship false gods and follow false religions; all encouraged and offered up by Satan himself and our free will. All the effort that was put into making this statue, all the hours spent in rituals and practices that have no eternal value. How much more should we, who know the Truth, refuse to worship false gods, *whatever form they come in, and seek to serve our God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength?
*There are times that a denomination may become the idol. Even to the point of spiritualizing what the Word of God plainly states. Ministers defend their seminary training by arguing their religious point of view through the eyes of seminary instead of the Bible.
In World War II when the British and allied forces had been pushed back to the beaches of Dunkirk, France by the German army, being trapped by the English Channel on one side and the approaching German’s on the other, sent a simple three word message back home: “But if not”. Immediately this was recognized as being a quote from the book of Daniel and was understood to mean that the trapped British troops would wait to be saved, but if not, they would die fighting and standing up for their cause. This then led to the famous Dunkirk evacuations where hundreds of military, merchant and private fishing boats set sail across the Channel and dramatically rescued 350,000 British and allied soldiers.
It has been said that those in power in Britain understood, however if such a message were to be sent today, the soldiers would likely perish. Few know what the Bible says anymore.
In October 1871, tragedy struck Chicago as fire ravaged the city. When it was all over, 300 people were dead and 100,000 were homeless. Horatio Gates Spafford was one of those who tried to help the people of the city get back on their feet. Spafford was a lawyer who had invested much of his money into the downtown Chicago real estate and consequently had lost a great deal to the fire. Also about this time his only son had died leaving him with his wife and his four daughters. For two years Spafford, who was a friend of evangelist Dwight Moody, assisted the homeless, impoverished, and grief-stricken that had been ruined by the fire. Eventually Spafford decided to take a family vacation to Europe with the intention of meeting up with his friends Dwight Moody and Ira Sankey who at that time were on one of their evangelistic crusades.
At the last minute Horatio Spafford was delayed by some business so decided to send his family on ahead; he would catch up with them on the other side of the Atlantic. Their ship, the Ville de Havre, never made it. Off Newfoundland, it collided with another ship, the Loch Earn, and sank in a matter of minutes. Though Horatio’s wife, Anna, was able to cling to a piece of floating wreckage (one of only 47 survivors among hundreds), their four daughters, Maggie, Tanetta, Annie, and Bessie, died. Horatio received a telegram from his wife in England informing him of this terrible tragedy; all it said were two words: “saved alone.” Spafford boarded the next available ship to be near his grieving wife. As his own ship passed by the area where his daughters had died he was moved to write a song – the now famous ‘It is well with my soul’. He met up with his wife and they went on to meet up with Dwight Moody. “It is well,” Spafford told him quietly. “The will of God be done.”
peace, like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say, It is well, it is well, with my soul.
Satan should buffet, though trials should come, Let this blest
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate, And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought! My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more, Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live: If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.
Lord, ‘tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait, The sky, not the
grave, is our goal;
Oh trump of the angel! Oh voice of the Lord! Blessèd hope, blessèd rest of my soul!
Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight, The clouds be
rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend, Even so, it is well with my soul.
well, with my soul, It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.