Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were among the Jewish young men held captive by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. They were being groomed to serve that pagan king in any way he saw fit. Their indoctrination included eating what they were told (although there is a great lesson in that fact. I hope you’ll read these chapters today), wearing what they were given, and their names were even changed to wipe out any connection the Jews had with God. Now they were called by names honoring pagan gods.
The four young men had taken a stand early on to be true to God. They did not compromise their faith. And God blessed them.
So when Nebuchadnezzar had a gigantic statue erected in the middle of town, and ordered everyone to bow down and worship it, three of our boys stood tall. This did not go over well with the king.
The king confronted them, and gave them a second chance. “Either bow down and worship my statue like I told you, or be thrown into the furnace and die.” You probably know what they chose:
“We’re not about to bow to anything or anyone other than the One True God.” So they were thrown into the fire. Read the rest of the story. It’s truly amazing.
As I was thinking about this this morning, it occurred to me that Nebuchadnezzar would not have been able to see the hearts of those men. What’s to say they couldn’t pray to God, worship Him in their hearts, and just look like they were worshiping the statue? What’s the big deal?
After all, just a few books earlier, in 2 Kings 5, didn’t we read about Naaman, the commander of the army of a pagan king, healed of leprosy through Elisha, and who became a believer as a result, take a different position?
In verses 17-18 in 2 Kings, Naaman asks Elisha not to judge him when, as a part of his job description, he helps the feeble pagan king into the temple of Rimmon, and then helps the king bow in worship of the pretend god. “God forgive me,” Naaman pleads.
And Elisha responds, “Go in peace.”
So if Naaman could bow and not worship, why couldn’t Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego do the same thing? God judges the heart, right?
Today I’m asking myself, how much can I go along with the world before I need to stand tall? I can’t answer that for anyone but me.
Paul said he became all things to all men, Jesus hung out with sinners all the time. It didn’t effect their commitment to God. But the Bible also tells us to come out and be separate, to avoid even the appearance of sin. So which is it?
Do you go through the motions of blending in with the world, believing you can keep your heart right before God? Or do you take a stand and refuse to bend? I think that’s between you and God.
But be warned. God does see your heart. And the truth is, you can go through the motions, or not go through the motions, and still be disobedient if your heart isn’t right with the Lord.
What’s the big deal?