Daniel 3: 18 “But even if He does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up”
In order to understand this Scripture, we need just a little background. First of all, you need to understand why Daniel and the three Hebrew boys ended up in Babylon in the first place. Without giving you a complete history of Israel, you will recall that God had made a covenant with Israel in Moab (Deut. 28 – 30) just before she entered the promise land. The covenant was simple. If the Israelites obeyed, they would be blessed; but if they disobeyed, they would be disciplined. God outlined the discipline He would use to correct the people when their walk was out of line with His revealed Law. These disciplines would conform them to His demands so they would be eligible for His blessings. The ultimate discipline would be the invasion of Gentile nations, the loss of one’s homeland, and being taken into slavery.
Moses said that even when discipline comes, that discipline would not be lifted until the people forsook their sin, turned in faith to God, and obeyed His requirements (Deut. 30:1-10). It would seem that Judah would have learned a lesson from the Northern Kingdom that had been taken into slavery by the Assyrians in 722 B.C. But like a backsliding heifer, Judah also ignored God’s covenant, neglected the Sabbath Day, and went into idolatry. God chose Nebuchadnezzar as the instrument to inflict discipline on God’s disobedient people (Jer. 27:6; Hab. 1:6).
Daniel and the Hebrew boys were among those brought back from Judah. You will recall that Nebuchadnezzar had appointed Daniel to a position of responsibility in the royal court after he interpreted the king’s dream.
After this, Nebuchadnezzar erected a golden statute of himself and summoned all of the officials to the dedication of the image. In demanding that these officials fall down before the image of gold . . . Nebuchadnezzar was demanding a public display of recognition and submission to his absolute authority in the kingdom. The fact that the officials were commanded not only to fall down before the image, but also to worship it, indicates that the image had religious as well as political significance.
SOMEBODY’S WATCHING YOU. . .
There is always someone who is quick to bring an accusation against the righteous. The accusers were evidently motivated by jealousy.
The Bible says in Daniel 3:8: “At this time some astrologers came forward and denounced the Jews. They said to King Nebuchadnezzar, “O king, live forever! You have issued a decree, O king, that everyone who hears the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and all kinds of music must fall down and worship the image of gold, and that whoever does not fall down and worship will be thrown into a blazing furnace. But there are some Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon – – Shadrach,
Meshach and Abednego – who pay no attention to you, O king. They neither serve your gods nor worship the image of gold you have set up.”
When Nebuchadnezzar heard that the three refused to bow, he became furious with rage. The high esteem with which these men had previously been held by Nebuchadnezzar did not exempt them from submission to his authority. Nebuchadnezzar did not pass an immediate judgment on the three but asked them if the accusation against them were true. He gave them another opportunity to bow before the image. By doing so they could prove the falsehood of the accusation (or show a changed attitude).
The king went so far as to impress on them the importance of such submission, warning them that the penalty for rebellion (being thrown . . . into a blazing furnace; cf. 3:6) would be carried out immediately.
Nebuchadnezzar considered himself above all gods, for he asked, (15) “What god will be able to rescue from my hand?” At this point he was challenging any god to circumvent his authority. The matter became a conflict between Nebuchadnezzar and Yahweh, the God of the Hebrew boys.
YOU MUST HAVE ABSOLUTE CONFIDENCE IN GOD!
Now we live in a time when people would say that God has given you five senses, and you must be politically correct and not take you faith to the extreme.
The three were being given one more chance. Here are some of the excuses they could have used to justify bowing to the image and saving their lives:
- We will fall down but not actually worship the idol
- We won’t become idol worshipers, but will worship it this one time, and then ask God’s forgiveness.
- The king has absolute power, and we must obey him, God will understand.
- The king appointed us – we owe this to him.
- This is a foreign land, so God will excuse us for following the customs of the land.
- Our ancestors set up idols in God’s temple! This isn’t so bad!
- We’re not hurting anybody.
- If we get ourselves killed and some pagans take our high positions, they won’t help our people in exile!
Although all these excuses sound sensible at first, they are dangerous rationalizations. To fall down and worship the image would violate God’s command in Exodus 20:3.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were pressured to deny God, but they chose to be faithful to him no matter what happened! They trusted God to deliver them, but they were determined to be faithful regardless of the consequences. If God always rescued those who were true to Him, Christians would not need faith. Their religion would be a great insurance policy, and there would be lines of selfish people ready to sign up. We should be faithful to serve God whether he intervenes on our behalf or not. Our eternal reward is worth any suffering we may have to endure first.
In spite of the high regard Nebuchadnezzar had held these three; he determined to demonstrate his authority by ordering their immediate execution. In a fit of anger, Nebuchadnezzar had the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual.
You must understand that his blazing furnace was not a small oven for cooking dinner or heating a house; it was a huge industrial furnace that could have been used for baking bricks or smelting metals. The temperatures were hot enough to assure that no one could survive. In fact, the roaring flames could be seen leaping from its top opening.
Then he ordered some of his strongest soldiers . . . to tie up the three and throw them into the blazing furnace. The Bible says that the flames were so hot, the flames killed the men who had thrown the three into the fire.
The three showed absolute confidence in God, stating that their God was greater than Nebuchadnezzar and was able to deliver them from Nebuchadnezzar’s judgment in a display of His superior power. Their words, the God we serve, show they recognized that God’s authority was greater than the authority claimed by Nebuchadnezzar. Though they were employed by Nebuchadnezzar (2:49), they “served” Yahweh.
What is the difference of being in the employment of or being a servant of?
I saw an adv that said the Company was looking for drivers:
They offered a guaranteed 40 hours per week
Medical and dental benefits; 401k retirement program.
Even during slavery, the Master had certain responsibilities:
He had to provide food, clothes, shelter, and medical attention.
When the slave became too old to work in the field, the master had to provide food and shelter as long as the slave lived.
Well, I didn’t live on the plantation, but one day I signed up and I joined the army of the Lord. It took me a long time, but I finally came to understood that I had a covenant relationship with the Most High God. I read over in Deut. 28 about the benefits.