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By Jon Shonebarger

King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had summoned all the governmental leaders to the dedication of a new religious idol. The golden statue was made in the image of the Babylonian king himself and stood 90 feet tall and 6 feet wide. Certainly, the imposing monstrosity cast a menacing shadow upon the people in the kingdom. In boastful arrogance, his decree was for every man, woman and child of his kingdom to bow down and worship the statue when the playing of the music was heard. Disobedience would result in death by being placed in a fiery furnace. The consequences would be swift and cruel.

As planned, the music played and all the Babylonians fell to the ground in worship to the statue. However, there were Jewish captives of the king who were observed defying the king’s declaration. The loyalists to the king swiftly reported the defiance of the young dissidents. The king, in rage, summoned them into his court. He queried them about their non-compliance. He warned them of the fiery furnace.

Submitted photo
Jon Shonebarger

Boldly, each of the Jewish men denounced the practice of worshipping false gods or his newly minted statue. They would not be intimidated or swayed in the conviction of their faith in the God of Israel. They were not afraid. They did not blink! Their courageous statement to the king testified of unwavering confidence in their sovereign God. Speaking about the consequences of their defiance of the order by death in the blazing furnace, they replied,

“If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and will deliver us out of thine hand, O King. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” (Daniel 3:17-18)

In his wrath, the king ordered the furnace be heated to seven times its normal temperature. When the king’s men placed the clothed Jews into the furnace, they perished due to the heat. However, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were seen in the furnace… with a fourth man in the midst of the flame. It was proclaimed the fourth was, “like the Son of God!” (verse 25). Upon departure from the furnace, the three Jewish men had no smell of smoke, nor evidence of fire damage to their clothing.

There will be times in the course of our Christian lives when we must choose whether or not to deny our faith. We may elect to secretly acknowledge our faith to God in our heart, but desire to appease others through compromise. We may be tempted to not want to look too religious or come across as a fanatic in our beliefs. We may rather elect convenience over steadfastness. We may choose to bow to the demands of a godless society in order to benefit ourselves and please the multitude. What would you do?

It is paramount to note, the Jewish men did not state that God WOULD deliver them. They merely stated the truth: God was able to deliver them if He chose to. God is in control; God is sovereign. He has a plan, a purpose and a time for all things. They would all be accomplished for His Glory. The Jewish men did not know what God would do, but they knew God was good. They trusted His choice for their lives. In addition, He would go with them through the trial of their faith.

Our Biblical story generates some provocative questions. Have you surrendered your circumstances to the complete control of God, or are you trying to order your own steps? Are you at peace with God’s decisions for your life? Are you willing to boldly stand up for your faith in God? When would you consider compromising your faith in order to appease a government or a king? What are the issues of faith that you would absolutely be willing to die for?

The author of the book of Hebrews exhorted Christians to be a living sacrifice for God. Let us live for Christ with a whole heart. Even though we may not be faced with a fiery furnace, let us stand firm and strong in our day. Let us boldly proclaim Christ and not bow our knee to false gods or heretical decrees. Let us glorify our King, Jesus Christ!

Have a great week and remember, Jesus loves YOU!

Contact Jon at jtshonebarger@gmail.com.