Beginning in Chapter 3 of Daniel, after Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, (renamed by Nebuchadnezzar, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego after Babylonia’s pagan gods) had been assigned to positions of power all over the province of Babylon, the King made a statue. A huge image of gold: 90 feet high and 9 feet wide and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. The statue was dedicated and the decree clear: once the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and all kinds of music sound, all must bow down at once to worship this image of gold, and you know the drill: those who do not will be thrown into the fiery furnace.
We’ve see Daniel’s courage under fire (no pun intended) in the first two chapters, now let’s see what his friends are truly made of in this one:
1) They were respectful (3:13)–when the King heard that they were not bowing down, they were brought before the King and listened to him speak. I think it’s great that the king went painstakingly through his instructions with them re: the statue, as if they had no idea what the entire kingdom had already been engaged in.
2) Saw no need to defend their actions when they knew they were doing God’s will (3:16)–this may just be one of my favorite verses in all of Scripture: Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter.” I am so convicted by this verse, I find, over and over again that I need to justify, explain why I am doing something, when all I really need to do is sit back and let my testimony speak for me and allow people to think I’m a little crazy if they want.
3) Believed in God’s sovereignty and ability to save them (3:17)–at the same time acknowledging that even if God chose not to, they would not serve false gods or worship them and after they are thrown into the furnace:
4) Again, just like Daniel, through their deliverance, they compelled this mighty king to acknowledge how big, how mighty this one, true God is (3:28)
5) they (or rather through their actions, God) turned the king’s heart (3:29)
(also see Prov. 21:1)
6) Gained promotion just by standing unswervingly behind their convictions (3:30)
I’m pretty sure I’ve never turned the heart of a king, but who knows, maybe I’ve turned the heart of someone almost as powerful. Sometimes we see, we know who we influence, other times we don’t, we simply have to have the courage to stand by our convictions. Most times it’s easier said than done, right? But just watch and see if it’s not an opportunity for God to take you through that fiery furnace without even a trace of smoke on your clothes.
He is gracious.