Most people know the biblical account of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego being placed into the fiery furnace because they refused King Nebuchadnezzar’s national decree to worship the image of gold. Let me first say that I don’t like calling them by their Babylonian names. Their real names were Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah.
The king commanded that when the designated ‘national’ music played that everyone stopped what they were doing and worship the image. This was a ‘national’ decree, and everyone under his authority stopped and worshiped the image.
As you will read below, the three young men refused to do so.
Daniel 3:1-18 (NKJV)
3 Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was [a]sixty cubits and its width six cubits. He set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon. 2 And King Nebuchadnezzar sent word to gather together the satraps, the administrators, the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the judges, the magistrates, and all the officials of the provinces, to come to the dedication of the image which King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. 3 So the satraps, the administrators, the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the judges, the magistrates, and all the officials of the provinces gathered together for the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up; and they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up. 4 Then a herald cried [b]aloud: “To you it is commanded, O peoples, nations, and languages, 5 that at the time you hear the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, you shall fall down and worship the gold image that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up; 6 and whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.”
7 So at that time, when all the people heard the sound of the horn, flute, harp, and lyre, in symphony with all kinds of music, all the people, nations, and languages fell down and worshiped the gold image which King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.
8 Therefore at that time certain Chaldeans came forward and accused the Jews. 9 They spoke and said to King Nebuchadnezzar, “O king, live forever! 10 You, O king, have made a decree that everyone who hears the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, shall fall down and worship the gold image; 11 and whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. 12 There are certain Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego; these men, O king, have not paid due regard to you. They do not serve your gods or worship the gold image which you have set up.”
13 Then Nebuchadnezzar, in rage and fury, gave the command to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. So they brought these men before the king. 14 Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the gold image which I have set up? 15 Now if you are ready at the time you hear the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, and you fall down and worship the image which I have made, good! But if you do not worship, you shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. And who isthe god who will deliver you from my hands?”
16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17 If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. 18 But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.”
Does this sound familiar? Many people in America today are considered unpatriotic if they don’t submit to the expected behavior. When the music plays (The National Anthem) you are expected to stop what you are doing, stand, place your hand on your heart or salute.
Some people feel, just as the three Hebrew young men did, that the designated behavior goes beyond showing respect, but is actually an act of worshiping an object.
There are plenty of examples in the bible of Jesus rebuking people for placing their expected traditions before what God has commanded.
Mark 7:9 (NKJV)
9 He said to them, “All too well you [a]reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition.
If that were today, would they be criticized for their behavior?
Do you see the similarities?
Do you feel obligated to prove how these two situations are not the same?
Are you more committed to The Constitution, our laws, traditions and policies than you are to the word of God?
We must be very careful that we don’t place our dedication, devotion, commitment and passion to our country, our race or our traditions before God.
The bible tells us that the things it records were given for our example…
1 Corinthians 10:11 (NKJV)
11 Now [a]all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our [b]admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.
Romans 15:4 (NKJV)
4 For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the [a]patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.
Just because someone feels they are disobeying God to respect a tradition or commandment of man does not mean they don’t love their country or respect its icons, symbols and traditions.
Some people are willing to kill to protect their traditions. GOD IS NOT IN THAT.
Many times we criticize the antagonists of God’s people in the bible, but when we’re honest with ourselves, our attitudes, what we do or don’t do in similar situations today proves how we would have behaved back then.
There is a thin line between respect and worship.