“…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.” (Daniel 3:18)
It takes courage to stand up for what you believe to be the truth. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were, like 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.
They were intelligent, highly educated, articulate young men who held office in their land of exile at Nebuchadnezzar’s pleasure because of their abilities and leadership qualities. However 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 analyse. He alone is God. 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 to what extent they should get involved in this foreign country: would it compromise their faith? The Book of Daniel’s answer is, ‘No! It won’t, providing you continue to trust and serve God’.
This question is important for us too. Some of God’s people 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 secular, neo-pagan world of our day.
In Romans 12:1-2 Paul the Apostle writes: ‘I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect’.
Reflect. Do you pray for opportunities to talk with others about your faith? As you do, ask yourself what opportunities you have had. Pray for those with whom you have chatted.
Optional. Read Daniel 3; Colossians 4:2-6.