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S (Scripture): Daniel 3: 14 Nebuchadnezzar said to them: “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego: Is it true that you don’t serve my gods or worship the gold statue I’ve set up? 15 If you are now ready to do so, bow down and worship the gold statue I’ve made when you hear the sound of horn, pipe, zither, lyre, harp, flute, and every kind of instrument. But if you won’t worship it, you will be thrown straight into the furnace of flaming fire. Then what god will rescue you from my power?”
16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered King Nebuchadnezzar: “We don’t need to answer your question. 17 If our God—the one we serve—is able to rescue us from the furnace of flaming fire and from your power, Your Majesty, then let him rescue us. 18 But if he doesn’t, know this for certain, Your Majesty: we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you’ve set up.”
O (Observation): The backdrop of the book of Daniel is this: “In the third year of the rule of Judah’s King Jehoiakim, Babylon’s King Nebuchadnezzar came to Jerusalem and attacked it” (Daniel 1:1). Attacked and defeated it. The land of the Jewish People has been taken over by the Babylonian empire. This is known as the Babylonian exile. (Different from the exile in Egypt, before God’s people wandered in the wilderness…before they finally settled back down into the Promised Land.)
Having been placed into Nebuchadnezzar’s service, Daniel, along with his Jewish friends (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) began to serve the king. Some of the Chaldeans (Nebuchadnezzar’s people) didn’t like the fact that Neb chose some of the Jews to serve as some of the higher ranking advisors to the king.
In their jealousy, some of these Chaldeans plotted against Rach, Shach, and Benny (that’s what I’ll be calling them here and going forward : ). They convinced the king to throw into a fiery furnace any people who would not bow down to the golden statue of the king. The king agreed, not realizing that his Jewish captors (and advisors) would not bow. The text above shows the interchange after the first opportunity to bow is met with resistance.
Rach, Shach, and Benny won’t bow. The king confronts them. Their faith drives their decision to stand instead of kneel. Very bold, considering their people were handed over to this king. Is God on their side still? Apparently so, for they would choose death over kneeling to a foreign god.
A (Application): How many of us bow down to idols…EVERY DAY?!?!? Maybe the question should be: How many times a day do I kneel to foreign gods?
We have created a system around us in which we have become slaves to convenience and comfort. I include myself in this…so I’m preaching to myself, as well.
We have created a world in which MY life is number 1. My idol is my life, sometimes. Or maybe my “convenience and comfort.” I think we all need to take care of ourselves, don’t get me wrong. I’m thinking about when we are rested and ready to go, but choose not to, because it would be uncomfortable…a stretch to my personal comfort.
What is your golden statue that you bow down to? Money? Power? Authority? Work? When we make these our priority, when we bow down to these idols, we are like those who bow to Nebuchadnezzar’s golden statue.
Yet, we have a God who continually calls us to reassess our priorities. God has released us from the power that sin has on us. As we live into this freedom, we can choose, as Shach, Rach, and Benny…we can choose to stand and not kneel down. We can choose to trust God. We can choose to allow God to help us deal with the consequences of putting money, power, authority, work, second or third or fourth in our lives.
God will see us through the shifting of priorities. God chooses to save us, even when our priorities are screwed up, so that we have the opportunity to be bold and brave, like Rach, Shach, and Benny. We might realize a cost, but we will also realize the blessing of knowing that our God is (and will always be) faithful to us.
I pray for you as you give thought to your priorities this day. Please pray for me, as I am challenged with the same struggles as you.
P (Prayer): Lord, help us to know that we are enough in you. Amen.