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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.

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    Comments

  • Eric V. Snow
    For nearly three centuries under the Roman Empire’s rule, the imperial government forced a number of Christians to make decisions much like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego endured. They had a choice: 1. Worship the emperor, violate the First Commandment, and live. 2. Refuse to worship the emperor, obey the first commandment, and die. When making their decisions to be faithful, doubtless many of them remembered this statement of Our Savior (Matthew 10:32-33 Matthew 10:32-33 32 Whoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. 33 But whoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.
    American King James Version×
    ): “Everyone therefore who shall confess Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever shall deny Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.” Furthermore, as such texts as Matthew 24:9-10 Matthew 24:9-10 9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and you shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. 10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.
    American King James Version×
    ; Revelation 12:17 Revelation 12:17And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
    American King James Version×
    show, these spectacular tests to our faith will arise again, likely in our physical lifetimes. But in today’s Western world, we aren’t presently faced with such life-and-death decisions about whether to affirm our faith publicly. But in smaller ways, we can deny Jesus as well. For example, do we call the Feast of Tabernacles just a “vacation” with worldly friends, family, bosses, and co-workers? Do we conceal the religious nature of the event out of a sense of shame when people outside the faith ask why we’re leaving our jobs and school (which just started) in September and/or October? Are we embarrassed to mention the name of God even indirectly when giving credit for an answered prayer? Would we feel threatened by the opinions of others if we mentioned in context casually in conversations with worldly friends, classmates, relatives, and/or co-workers God’s standards of sexual morality concerning adultery, fornication, and/or homosexuality? Do we keep putting our lights under a bushel when in context others expect us to state what we believe? So we shouldn’t think that we Christians today are completely excluded from being tested like Daniel’s three friends were.

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