Long before LeRoy ended up in the hospital, we adopted a song on the radio as one of our new favorites. The words and message mean even more since we’ve started this journey into foreign territory. The lyrics are based on the Old Testament story of the three Hebrew boys in the book of Daniel.
These boys were under the rule of an egomaniac with a really long name: Nebuchadnezzar. He was so taken by himself that he had this horrendous (probably quite gaudy) gold image of himself built—ninety feet high and nine feet wide. Did you get that? An image of himself that is NINE STORIES HIGH! You talk about self-centered, this guy was it. And he was in charge.
Imagine your life being held in the hands of a nut like that.
Nebuchadnezzar wanted to throw a big party to glorify himself and show off his big, shiny, new self-image. So, he invited (insert “ordered”) everyone around to come and be ready to bow low to his gold image when the music started.
His invitation came with a costly threat:
[box]Then the herald loudly proclaimed: “To you the command is given, O peoples, nations and men of every language, that at the moment you hear the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery, bagpipe and all kinds of music, you are to fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king has set up.
But whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire.” (Daniel 3:4–6)[/box]
What an arrogant narcissist. “Bow to me like a god, or burn!”
Nebuchadnezzar represented the greatest fear factor known at that time. He ruled his people with the threat of death if they failed to treat him as their deity. And everyone typically fell in line . . . except four young men (one was Daniel, but he must’ve been away on business when this particular party got started). Three young men refused to bow: Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah are their Hebrew names, but you may remember them as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego.
These three brave young men got in big trouble when the horns blew, the music blared, and they didn’t bow. Not one inch. No, they would not bow, would not compromise, would not share their allegiance to the one true God with any so-called “god.” Even if it meant going to the fire.
They didn’t dare treat this metal object as though it was worthy of worship or consider Nebuchadnezzar any more a deity than the Easter bunny.
Listen to their response when Nebuchadnezzar (in a fit of rage) threatened them with death:
[box]Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego replied to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. (Daniel 3:16–17)[/box]
This clear, uncompromising commitment to God stirs a passion in me. I admire these courageous young men, their loyalty spoke loud and clear: they loved not their lives more than their devotion to their God.
But make no mistake, they weren’t following a prosperity gospel. They didn’t claim to know whether God would deliver them from burning up, they weren’t following God just for what He could do for them. No, that wouldn’t be much of a commitment, would it? That kind of “devotion” wouldn’t involve any personal sacrifice. They knew they might burn for their God. They knew He might not come through to deliver them from the flame, but that didn’t matter . . . nothing was worth more to them than their God.
God is worthy of our worship, even if it requires our life.
That’s the message these boys gave to all who were watching. That’s the message we should be sharing with others. This God, He is worth our all, He is worth dying for!
They knew God could deliver them from the fire, if He chose to do that . . . but they didn’t assume He would deliver. They didn’t live as though deliverance were guaranteed, no, they lived knowing they might die for their commitment to God. Listen to the rest of their reply to their egomaniac king:
[box]“But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” (Daniel 3:18)[/box]
And that statement did not go over well.
They were thrown in the flames, and at that moment we see true faith at work. They were devoted to the reality of the God they knew . . . not that they could see or touch him—but they knew Him. And when entering the fire, they stayed true to Him, because once you’ve truly known Him, you can’t deny it. The fire could’ve consumed them . . . but it didn’t. God rescued them from the flame (I hope you’ll read all of Daniel 3 to receive what God has for you there).
These young men were delivered, but at times, the faithful Father does allow His children to be consumed by flames, to be wiped out by floods, or to glorify Him when the healing doesn’t come.
Rock solid commitment isn’t based on circumstances, it is based on the person of Jesus Christ.
And that’s what I love about this story. We see these young men courageously stand for the one they know but can’t see. They stood for the God they served, thinking they would lose their life. He chose to rescue them, but that rescue was only temporary . . . for each of us there will come a day when we take our last breath.
When that final breath is taken, will it be taken while demonstrating this kind of courageous devotion?
Today, when you walk through the flame of opposition, trial, or suffering, I hope you’ll join me in saying: “I know You’re able, and know that by Your mighty hand you can deliver from the fire . . . but even if You don’t . . . my hope is still in You. You are still worthy of all worship, honor, and praise. You alone.”