The story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and the fiery furnace is one that I can remember from my childhood. And, likely, most people who have grown up around any Christian or Jewish influence have some familiarity with it as well.
But this is so much more than a children’s story. The response these three men made to Nebuchadnezzar is one we should all take to heart. These three, along with Daniel, had been brought to Babylon as captives, indoctrinated into the Babylonian culture, and inducted into government service. And they had risen to positions of great influence within that government.
But then they were faced with a choice. To bow to an image of gold. An image that represented Babylon and its gods. Or to remain faithful to God.
A Declaration of Faithfulness
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 3:17-18 NIV
Yet through it all, they remained faithful to God and refused to worship the gods of Babylon. They choose to give up everything, including their lives, rather than bow before the golden image Nebuchadnezzar had set up. They trusted that God would deliver them, and he did. But, they said, even if he does not, they would not worship and serve any other god but the Most High God.
A Timely Example
I live in a culture that is very different than either ancient Israel or Babylon. And I have never been faced with the choice of worshipping a false god or being killed.
But I am constantly confronted by the false gods of modern American life. And the pressure to worship at their altar is, at times, very great. So the example that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego set here is very appropriate.
We should never compromise our faith in God in order to be more acceptable to our culture. Choose to worship him alone and trust in his deliverance.