It takes courage to stand up for what you believe to be the truth.
In the sixth century BC, leading lights in Jewish society: Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were, with Daniel, exiles in Babylon at the time of Nebuchadnezzar.
Like Daniel they enjoyed the privilege of Babylonian education and a place in Nebuchadnezzar’s court. However, encouraged by those around him, Nebuchadnezzar had constructed a huge golden statue that he commanded everyone to worship. The three Israelites, despite certain death, refused.
In Daniel chapter 3, verse 18 we read their response to the king: “…Be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods and we will not worship the golden statue that you have set up”.
These men were intelligent, highly educated, articulate young men who held office in their land of exile at King Nebuchadnezzar’s pleasure because of their abilities and leadership qualities. They knew that now they had to take a stand.
Nebuchadnezzar needed to know the God of Israel was not only the God of the Jewish people. He was not simply another God in the pantheon of gods for the Religious Departments of universities to analyze. He alone is the Lord. There is no other.
They spoke of God as, “our God whom we serve”: they had a personal relationship with him built on trust. They were confident that God had the power to deliver them from the fiery furnace they faced. But if he chose not to protect them they would still trust him.
For the Jewish readers of this book who were also in exile, the examples of men like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in Babylon were significant. They had to ask how far they should get involved in this foreign country: would it compromise their faith? The answer in the Book of Daniel is, ‘No! It won’t. Providing you continue to trust and serve God’.
This question is important for us too. Some Christians say they can only fully serve God if they become a Christian minister or missionary. But that is not how God works: he involves all of us wherever we are. And he expects us to continue to trust and serve him in the secularized world of our day.
Reflect. Do you pray for opportunities to talk with others about your faith? As you do, let me suggest that you ask yourself what opportunities you may have had. Pray for those with whom you have chatted about the good news you have found in knowing the Lord Jesus Christ.
You may also find it helpful to read Daniel, chapter 3 and Colossians 4:2-6.
A Prayer. Almighty God, creator of all things and giver of every good and perfect gift, hear with favor the prayers of your people, so that we who are justly punished for our offences may mercifully be delivered by your goodness, for the glory of your name; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
© John G. Mason