Journey with Daniel
“Daniel 3”Categories: Journey with Daniel
Today’s chapter is a memorable story of conviction and courage. We’re not exactly sure how much time has taken place since chapter 2. The Septuagint states that 18 years have passed between chapter 2 and chapter 3. In chapter 2 Nebuchadnezzar is shown a statue made of different elements – the head was made of gold and represented the Babylonian empire. Here in chapter 3 Nebuchadnezzar has made a statue out of gold. Perhaps this is his way of saying that he didn’t believe in that dream. He didn’t believe there would be other nations that would come after him. Instead he believed that he would be the sovereign ruler and Babylon would stand forever.
This chapter focuses on the three friends of Daniel. Though we’re given their Jewish names in chapter 1, in this chapter they are only referred to by their Babylonian names – Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. One of the questions we have from this is – where is Daniel? Was he away on business? Was he not invited? We simply don’t know. What we do know is that if he were present, he would have been standing with his friends.
Nebuchadnezzar has this statue built, and orders for all the people to bow down and worship this image. It seems to be his way of unifying the people under his rule (v. 4). This posed an immediate problem for these Jewish young men. God’s law stated that His people were only to worship Him. Nebuchadnezzar placed some extreme warnings on this worship (v. 6) – those who didn’t worship when it was expected were to be immediately thrown into the fire. He ruled with force, with dominance, with fear. The time comes, the horns sound, the people bow – all except the three Jewish young men. When they are reported to the king, he gives them another chance – perhaps because he saw such value in them.
Here are young men, who are far from home, who are facing this trial alone, and yet notice their response (v.16-18). Our God can save us, and even if He does not we will not bow down and worship you. What courage! What conviction! They were willing to face the furnace, to lay down their lives demonstrating their faithfulness to God.
These kind of moments will happen. Culture will draw a line. If you see like they see, speak like they speak, stand for what they stand for, then there will be some consequences. Perhaps the loss of a friend. Perhaps socially shunned. Perhaps slammed on social media. It could be more severe – fired, threatened, wounded physically or emotionally. It’s the test of fire. It’s one thing to be faithful to God in the green pastures, but what about when we face the valley, when there are risks and dangers on the line?
These young men stood for God, and God stood with them. God had noticed their faith. And from this miraculous event Nebuchadnezzar notices too. Never underestimate the difference your example can make in the lives of others. Even when its hard – even if you’re the only one – even if it brings consequences – we face the fire and stand with God.
Oh God most High – glory and honor and praise be given unto Your name. I thank you for the inspiring example of these young men. From this reading today I am reminded that though these men were tempted to compromise on their convictions, though their faith was tested, though they stood alone – You were there. You were with them. You saved them from the fire, and proved to that pagan nation that You are the one true God. Help me to have that same kind of steadfast faith and commitment to You. Help me to trust that there is no pain, no punishment for following You that could possibly compare to pleasing You on Earth, and living with You in Heaven. May my life and my devotion to You be a light in this world and lead others closer and closer to You!