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Bow Down or Stand?

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In the days of Daniel and his three friends Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, King Nebuchadnezzar set up an image of gold and commanded all people to bow down and worship him at its ‘sacred’ anthem call. The king made a terrifying threat to burn and ruin the homes of whoever would not obey—and the people bowed down. But these few young men, who had served the king loyally for several years, refused to give their allegiance to anyone but the one, true God.

When they were given a second chance to surrender to the golden image before the king, they said 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 Daniel 3:16-18 16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer you in this matter. 17 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 your hand, O king. 18 But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods, nor worship the golden image which you have set up.
American King James Version×
, NIV).

The king was outraged and had them bound and thrown into the furnace flames. Within a few moments they realized that nobody could stand in the place of God. God sent an angel to protect them and they walked around in the flames, unharmed and free.

“The King said to them and to all the people, 'Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out!'…'Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be burned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way'” (Daniel 3:26 Daniel 3:26Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spoke, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, you servants of the most high God, come forth, and come here. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, came forth of the middle of the fire.
American King James Version×
, 28-29, NIV).

When I think of their incredible story and the goodness that God showed them, I can’t help but wonder if I would have had that much faith to stand. All it would have taken to spare their life was a simple bow of the knees to appease the king. The golden images of Buddha that surround me in Thailand have been a daily reminder to remove any idols that I may serve in my own heart—to surrender everything that I am to God, and to let Him be my fulfillment and joy. Also, to tear down any images of myself that I may have set up demanded others to bow down to, like king Nebuchadnezzar had done. I believe that only then can I serve and obey God as fearlessly as they did, and have the sincerity and humility to let others see the glory of the one, true God.