Conflict Over False Worship
So far every chapter we have seen some sort of conflict between God and man. Should I go God’s way, or can I get by on my own way? Daniel 3 is no exception, the issue being imposed false worship. Remember, Daniel is a book about the time of the end, and that is not just limited to the prophetical part of Daniel. The historical part of Daniel reveals what God’s people will face in the end times.
In Daniel 1, we see Daniel deciding in his heart to follow God, even before controversy strikes. God’s people will have to do the same.
In Daniel 2, we see Daniel taking initiative to reveal God’s power, even though he is facing death. Defending God’s name in the face of danger will be something God’s people will have to do, realizing that God is in control.
In Daniel 3, we see Daniel’s friends being forced to worship against their beliefs, how will they respond to the law of the land?
Daniel 3 happens several years after Daniel 2. At the end of Daniel 2 we saw Nebuchadnezzar worship God and acknowledge that He is God. However, the idea of other kingdoms succeeding Babylon did not sit well with him. So he made the image he saw in his dream entirely out of gold. This signified that Babylon – represented by the gold metal – would last throughout time. Based on the Biblical measurements, this image was probably 90 feet high and 9 feet wide! God was not joking that Babylon was a kingdom of gold. In fact, to commemorate this occasion Nebuchadnezzar called all of the smart people in the kingdom and told them to worship this image. The sound of various instruments would be the cue for the audience to fall down in unison and worship the image.
Remember that the second commandment in Exodus 20 says that we should not make any images and bow down to them? Yea that was the commandment in question here. The Hebrews knew this commandment. They knew that worshipping this image would be disobeying God’s law and displeasing God.
But to follow God’s law would mean disobeying the law of the land. And worse, they would meet a horrific end in a fiery furnace – thrown in alive. What a dilemma! On one hand, maybe God would understand, the Hebrews were in a foreign country, they were weak, surely God would wink at their obedience to the law of the land this one time?
Three people did not think so. They knew God’s law. They knew it was better to obey God rather than man. They knew that they could not bow down to the golden image. They could have made an excuse. They could have appeared to bow down. They could have “dropped” and bent down at such a time to pick it up. They could have sneezed and then contort their body to look like they were bowing down. But they stood tall. When the music played and the crowd was swept up in a worship service, three Hebrew boys stood tall, knowing that they would be thrown into a fiery furnace.
Of course, despite being in a huge crowd, they were picked out by some of the officials and reported this to the king. Nebuchadnezzar, perhaps feeling sorry for these young lads promised to give them one more chance. He repeats what they are to do at the right time. But the boys do not even take that second chance. They stop the king in his tracks. Here’s what we can glean from their response:
1. They believed their God was more powerful than this image: They told the king that the God they served could deliver them from the fate that awaited them. Did they know He would? Not yet.
2. There was no room for compromise: There was no amount of reasoning that they could do with God’s law. Nebuchadnezzar, king of the most powerful nation at the time, could not even try to compromise their beliefs. Their heart was set, they would follow God’s law no matter what.
3. They were willing to die without deliverance: While they acknowledged that God could deliver them, their courage did not come from a guaranteed delivery from above. Like Daniel, they had purposed in their heart not to disobey God. They were willing to die, even if God would not save them.
Nebuchadnezzar was enraged. The Bible says that his face changed appearance with fury. How dare anyone stand up to him, when he is trying to cement his everlasting power and kingdom throughout the ages. He ordered the furnace to be heated seven times more than it currently was.
What follows is a descriptive process of how they were thrown in. They were bound firmly, and then cast into the furnace. Some may argue that the Hebrews did not really die because the fire was not even that hot. However, the fire killed the people that threw them in! And they were not even in the furnace.
We read on that God did indeed send His Son into the furnace to protect them. Even the details are covered. The only thing that burned in that furnace was the ropes that bound them. Their hair was not singed, their clothes were not burned, their bodies were in tact, and they didn’t even smell like fire!
This story has a happy ending because God came and saved them. This reveals that God is with us through out trials. He is there to comfort us, and He is always in control. But this story tells us that while God can deliver us from our trials, we must make the decision to follow Him beforehand. God may not decide to deliver His people from certain situations. The boys acknowledged this fact. But they decided to follow Jesus, no matter what would happen to them.
Nebuchadnezzar, for the second time so far, acknowledges that there is a God in heaven. And once again he sees that there is a Higher Power accompanying these captives. God did not save these boys from the fire, He saved them through the fire.
Today, like the Hebrew boys, we must choose to follow Jesus before the trials come. We must choose to obey His law even if it is against the law of the land. God may choose to deliver us, or He may choose not to. Whatever He chooses, we must choose to follow no matter what it takes. And like the Hebrew boys, we can be respectful in disobeying the law of the land.
Today, will you choose to follow Jesus, knowing that He is always in control and that He can deliver you?