“Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you refuse to serve my gods or to worship the gold statue I have set up? 15 I will give you one more chance to bow down and worship the statue I have made when you hear the sound of the musical instruments. But if you refuse, you will be thrown immediately into the blazing furnace. And then what god will be able to rescue you from my power?”
16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. 18 But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.” Daniel 3:14-18 NLT
This is a great story about three young men taken captive from their Country. Not only were they kidnapped but their captor changed their names from Hebrew names to Babylonian names. Hannaniah, which means, “My God is gracious”, was changed to Shadrach (which is believed to be a reference to a pagan god, Marduk). Mishael’s name meant “Who is what God is?” was changed to Meshack (another reference to Marduk). Azariah (Yahweh has helped) was changed to Abednego which meant servant of Nebo. The young men were immersed in the Babylonian culture and language. This was all part of the plan of assimilating them into becoming Babylonians.
The three young men were placed in a position of where they were ordered to bow down and worship this statue. When they refused to bow down they were given a choice, worship the statue or you will be put to death by being thrown into a furnace of fire. Now although these young men had learned the language, culture and name change, they still loved God.
Let’s reflect on this situation for a moment. How many of you let your circumstances determine your current relationship with God? These three young men were kidnapped, had their names changed, immersed into a foreign culture and now were being forced to either bow down before a statue or die. Not once does it say that they abandoned their faith. It certainly would have been easier to bow down when commanded. After all, there was a bit of peer pressure being put into play. I have heard so many people say, “Well when I prayed and asked God to do this and it didn’t happen, I decided to no longer believe in him, or I got so angry with him.” Let’s pick back up in the story verse 16.
Their response was to stay faithful to God and not bow down or cave in to the pressure. They made a decision that they were going to remain faithful to God no matter what happened. They answered the King, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. 18 But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.” I love verse 18, but even if he doesn’t… They had made a decision to serve God no matter the circumstance and it showed. They had made a decision to serve God no matter the outcome, even when faced with death. Wow, that is so impressive.
Did you know that when it was all said and done, the three young men were thrown in the fire? They were bound by ropes and thrown in to be burned alive. When the King looked in to watch them burn, he didn’t see three men, he saw four men. He said that the fourth man looked like a god. He had them brought out of the fire and not even their hair was singed or was one thread of their garment burned, shoot, they didn’t even smell like smoke! What a testimony of God’s greatness! Even if they would have died, it would still have been a testimony of serving the Lord God Almighty.
I want to reflect a little further on the story for a moment. What would you do if you were placed in a situation like this? Would you stand by your decision to serve God no matter the circumstance or outcome? Think back across your life, when tough times have happened did you press into God, or when things didn’t go as planned did you just jump ship? If you have gotten mad at God, it’s okay, He won’t abandon you, He loves you. He simply desires to have a relationship with you. It’s not too late to make a decision. When you are weak, He is strong. Cry out to him to give you strength. Sometimes he delivers you from those tough situations and other times he walks with you. He will walk with you through the fire or floods. Isaiah 43:2 When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.
Bottom line, you are loved. He desires to walk with you through good times and bad! Make a decision today! Choose Jesus.