Pastor Randy’s Top 66 – Daniel
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, ‘King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.’ Daniel 3:16-18
The Book of Daniel was written during Judah’s (the southern kingdom of Israel) Babylonian Captivity, which lasted from 609BC to 539BC. Part of the Book of Daniel centers on four young Israelite men who were specifically chosen by the Babylonians so they could serve in the king’s palace. They were to be of nobility, in good health, well informed, and quick to understand in order to be trained and educated for the pagan king’s service. Those four men were Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, ninety feet high and nine feet wide, and had commanded all the people to bow down before this image whenever the trumpet would sound. Christian singer Russ Taff sang about this back in 1985 with his song, Not Gonna Bow from his ‘Medals’ album. Here’s the first verse and chorus:
Ninety feet tall and nine feet wide, solid gold, “It must be a god,” they were told, “When you hear the music play fall on your knees and begin to pray,” they were told, But when the trumpet sounded the whole world bowed, Three men stood there all alone, they said…
Not gonna bow to your idol, We won’t bow, oh no,
This is exactly what Nebuchadnezzar had commanded the people to do, but the three – Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego – since they were followers of the One True God – refused to bow to this image. The ‘rest of the story’ that the song and my verses don’t tell you is that the king threatened to throw anyone who did not comply with his orders into a blazing furnace, and when word got to Nebuchadnezzar that the three Israelite young men would not bow down, he was furious. In the verse prior to the ones I have quoted for you, Nebuchadnezzar, asked them what they would do when thrown into the fire – to quote: “Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?”
That then set the stage in verses sixteen and seventeen for the young men’s powerful statement of trust and love for their One True God: ‘King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand.’
First, they boldly proclaimed that even the great and powerful Nebuchadnezzar – king of Babylon – didn’t need to be responded to in regards to this because they knew who their True King was – God Almighty. Secondly, they acknowledged that no matter what King Nebuchadnezzar would try to do to them, their God was able to deliver them.
But here’s the amazing kicker….something that not all of us would immediately proclaim – the first part of verse eighteen: ‘But even if He does not…’. Now THAT’S love and devotion! They know that their Great God and King, Jehovah God, is MORE than capable of either stopping Nebuchadnezzar from destroying the three of them, or the Lord was capable of protecting them within the burning blaze. BUT they go on to sincerely say that if the Lord does NOT stop Nebuchadnezzar, or if the Lord does NOT protect them in the furnace and they are thus consumed, they would not bow. This shows us how they trusted – not presumptuously that they would without a doubt be rescued – but rather they trusted in God’s sovereignty – that no matter WHAT happened to them, they knew that God was in control and in His infinite wisdom, whatever the Lord decided, it would be fine with them.
If they were rescued, then God would get the glory. If they were consumed, then God would still get the glory because they would not deny their God.
So often we as Christians expect – or even demand – that the Lord rescue us from our calamity, and even though the Lord is omnipotent and full of love, mercy, and grace, sometimes our rescue will not be what we are expecting or demanding. I’ve shared the story before to the church – I’ll try my best to make it brief. Before I was ever in full time ministry I, as an elder at my church, was asked by my pastor to visit a woman from the church to pray and serve her communion because she was dying of cancer. This woman was married and had two or three teenage children – no one in her household had come to faith in Christ beside herself. She insisted the Jesus would heal her and her family would see that her God and Savior was the One True God that they needed to be worshipping.
Sadly, they wanted nothing to do with her God, especially because she was so preoccupied and stubborn about her healing, and because she would not be realistic about her grave condition. She did not want to talk about dying; about preparations; about the peace and strength she was receiving from the Lord during her trial (Which she was NOT receiving, and that wasn’t the Lord’s fault, she just refused to rest in His sovereignty).
So, as she lay on the couch, probably weighing less than 80 pounds, I tried to minister to her, but she would not allow me to talk to her about her death; about Heaven; about acceptance; about her kids and husband seeing godly peace in her face and testimony, because she insisted that God would show everyone that He was the Healer.
Now, I for one believe that the Lord God CAN and DOES heal, but I also remember what these three young men said before they were thrown in the furnace “the God we serve is able to deliver us from it….but even if He does not…”.
I believe what this lady should’ve been saying to her family – and I say this with all love and respect – was something like, “Dear family, I realize that you haven’t come to know my God and Savior as of yet, but I want you to know that my God IS able to heal me; BUT IF HE CHOOSES NOT TO, then I want you to know that I love Jesus and trust that He knows what’s best, and I pray that the love and grace of God that has saved me from my sins, and has given me a peace that passes all understanding during this horrific ordeal, will cover over you in such a marvelous manner, so that you can accept my death along with me, and come to know how great the love of God through Christ is to you”.
But she didn’t say that. And she died a week later. And she left a husband and children that were angry with her and angry with her God, and now had a sadly aberrant view of the Triune God. I can only pray that their hearts have been comforted and that the Lord in His grace has brought them into a saving faith in Christ.
So, the three Israelite young men stood their ground and refused to bow down to the idol of the powerful King Nebuchadnezzar. This caused such anger in the heart of the king that he had the heat of the fire magnified far above normal – so hot was the fire that the soldiers that tied up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were themselves consumed by it as they threw the three into the flames.
And of course, in this instance, the Lord had a good purpose in keeping them alive in the fire. Not only did they survive the fire, but there was with them a fourth man walking with the three among the flames! Some believe that this fourth man was either an angel, or a Christophany – a physical pre-incarnational appearance of Jesus Christ. The king said in verse twenty-five:
“Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound
and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”
The king then called to them asking them to return, and the three young men walked out of the fire – the blazing fire that did not harm their bodies, nor was their hair singed, robes weren’t scorched, and they didn’t even smell of fire!
Nebuchadnezzar immediately acknowledged and praised the God – the One True God – of the Israelites, and proclaimed that no one in the kingdom was to say anything against the Israelite God. And then Nebuchadnezzar promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
So, a couple of reminders: Are there idols in your life that you are ‘worshiping’? I don’t mean giant statues made of gold, but idols such as money, you family, your job, your boat, your health, yourself, etc. All of these things are fine and blessings from God, but anything that we put before the Lord are idols, and idols will never save us, nor will they bring peace.
Secondly, are you trusting in a sovereign and benevolent God; trusting Him to the point that you can say along with the three young Israelite men, “I know that my God can deliver me, but if He chooses not to, I will not bow to yours or anyone’s idol!” Something we all need to meditate upon, since we live in a world with so many distractions – so many potential idols.
As Joshua proclaimed, “But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15)