Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego replied to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter". (Daniel 3:16)
In August 2006, two Fox News Channel reporters – Steve Centanni and his cameraman Olaf Wiig were kidnapped in the Gaza (Palestine territories) and held for ransom. They were covering a story for Fox News. After a while, their captors said to the two men, that they would be released if they renounced Christianity and converted to Islam. Both men did precisely that and were promptly released. To those who of us who follow the Lord closely, this is the defining moment. Everyone knows what happens when you convert to another religion – you have rejected Christ. Even if they were to say decades later they only did it to be released, they have rejected Jesus Christ, the Author and Finisher of our Faith called Christianity as well as the Author of Salvation. The men in orange who were marched to the sea by black-hooded demons, from that same middle eastern religion, did not do what Centanni and Wiig did. The twenty men shed blood and lost their lives for the Cause of Christ. In a sense they made the Case for Christ.
It was the same thing with Rachel joy Scott when Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold shot up Columbine High School in 1999 in Littleton, Colorado. This young teenage girl was not ashamed say she was a Christian, and she lost her life. Her testimony became a best-selling (in Faith circles) movie almost two decades later.
The evidence of martyrs of the one true Faith – Christianity – is becoming hard to ignore. More and more of our brothers and sisters are being persecuted around the world and increasingly, the persecution in becoming evident in North America. While Christians homes, churches and lives are literally being destroyed in Asia, the Middle East and most of Africa, in the Northern part of the Western Hemisphere, it is more subtle. It may not be as violent, but there is still persecution, nonetheless.
Whether it is some made-up outrage over a Cross memorial to World War 1-era American soldiers, which now judges are removing, dishonoring both the dead veterans and the Cross of Christ.....
Whether it is some town telling a Christian farmer he cannot sell his produce at the local farmer’s market because he will not allow a certain type of marriage union at his private farm.....
Whether it is a small town being told by atheists and people with dark souls full of hatred against God that they cannot put up a privately funded Nativity Scene (they can constitutionally.....whatever is the case, the hostility towards the people of “The Book” is increasing in both intensity and hatred. This is only America. In Canada, it is even worse. Preachers north of the 49th parallel cannot preach out of certain passages of the bible without getting into legal trouble.
All of this is nothing new to the people of God. In this 3:16 verse from the historical and prophetic book of Daniel, is not just an amazing account of “NO COMPROMISE” by the people of Yahweh God, but a literally instructive of how to answer these persecutors. Before he was humbled by God and truly believed in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar was the most powerful man in the known world. He ruled the Middle East with a rod of iron. He was very rich. His city of Babylon was a fortress and extremely wealthy. He even had one of the Great Seven Wonders of the World – the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.
At this point in the Babylonian Exile of the Jews, King Nebuchadnezzar was in his glory. He had built this massive golden statue some false god and set up a great dedication ceremony with fanfare. Then, with all the high officials of Babylon around, the king commanded everyone before him, to bow down and worship this golden pagan image. Everyone bowed the knee to the false god, including the exiled Jews who knew better from the Second Commandment. Everyone, that is, except Shadrach, Meshach and Abednigo – friends of the great Prophet Daniel. Daniel was not in the mob of people, at the time, who were commanded to bow before the image. He was in the palace as a government official…and authentic man of God, himself.
When these three great men refused to acknowledge the King as god, they stood out immediately. For that, they were hauled in front of the furious king, by the latter’s henchmen who promptly ordered them to bow down again when the pagan “worship music” began.
Shadrach. Meschach and Abednigo basically cut him off and told him the following straight up, in no uncertain terms (paraphrased) “we know you’re the King and all that, but we ain’t bowing down to no made-up pagan piece of garbage. We can tell you right now, there is no debate. We are not going to debate you. You can through us into a pit full of hot coals or even blazing fire. We don’t care. We worship ONLY the Great God of Heaven. He. Who parted the Red Sea and delivered my people is strong enough to save us from your fires, but even if He doesn’t. He is STILL our God. So, Mr. King, we are not bowing down, selling out, converting or switching sides to worship NOTHING made by human hands. With all due respect, you’re the King, but our God – He IS GOD….so do with that as you will!”
Can you see some latte-sipping, shorts-wearing, no bible in hand thirty five year old couple with two kids, in the local church with the lively worship band being bold enough in suburbia USA or Australia or even Austria saying that these days?.
Where are the men like Shadrach, Meschach and Abednigo?
Where are the men like Athanathius who was told that the world was against him, for standing up for the Truth of the Gospel, said “well, it is Athanasius Contra Mondum (Athanasius against the world)”!
Where the women like Perpetua or Felicitas, who lived on earth not too long after the last Apostle of Jesus had gone on to heaven, and refused to bow to prevailing paganism and were killed by evil and brutal men?
Where are those who stand on Romans 1:16 and say to the corrupt and mocking world “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, it is the Power of God unto Salvation”?
Where are these thousands and thousands of documented martyrs and the millions more, whose names are only known by God?
The answer is they are still around. While they may not have the resources and comfort we have in the west, they still refuse to compromise. These three simple friends of the Prophet Daniel - Shadrach, Meschach and Abednigo - were thrown in the fire, where Jesus showed up in the flames to protect them (read Daniel Chapter 3 again). From the words of the Scriptures here, God gave us a couple illustrations which can be useful in building our faith, as well as how we respond when challenged like these three men.
17 If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. 18 But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”
From these two verses, we see these Truths:
- God is MORE than able to deliver the persecuted from the Hands of evil persecutors, fiery trials and destruction. He is Sovereign over all.
- If we have a strong relationship with God, have studied His Word and His Ways, we will know He is a good Father Who loves and protects His people. God chose to be with these three men in the fire. We read: “Was it not three men we cast bound into the midst of the fire?” They replied to the king, “Certainly, O king.” 25 He said, “Look! I see four men loosed and walking about in the midst of the fire without harm, and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods!” (Daniel 3:24b-25)
- But sometimes, God will let "bad things happen to good people" to accomplish His greater Will and vision. Because we live in a fallen world, the natural divine order of all created things has to follow its pattern, until the appointed time of restoration. So God has to allow to certain tragedies to befall sectors of mankind. That way, others can step up and fill the gaps where help and ministry are needed. He is Sovereign over all.
- A great or Biblically sound worldview of God will allow the believer to comprehend that sometimes it is over. Each one of us lives on borrowed time and one day, the doctor's report is going to be bad. He or she is going to tell us that it is over, for this life and to put our things in order. The three men in Nebuchadnezzar's massive furnace knew that about God. They also knew Him and their eternal future was secure. So to live is Christ. To die is gain. This is the promise for the Christian. God is Sovereign over all.
- Finally, no matter what the temptation to compromise, do not do it. Almost half of Evangelical Christians today, who go to church weekly and raise their hands in the ear and even go to the altar and pray etc....almost half of these so-called conservative Christians believe there is another way to Heaven besides Jesus. They believe all other religions lead to the same place, even those that deny Jesus even existed or have corrupted the words of the Bible. Even those eastern religions with 300 million different gods, many of them animals and crawling things are equated with the One True God in Heaven and His Son Jesus Christ. This is the type of thinking which led the Fox News employees to renounce Christianity and believe everyone is good enough. This is the type of thinking which will lead billions into eternal separation from God, for eternity.
The three heroes of our Bible account here in Daniel - Shadrach, Meschach and Abednigo - knew one thing. They knew that there is One God in Heaven and He is the God of the Scriptures. They also knew He cannot be formed into some filthy image by sinful man. Today, we have the fulfillment of these Old Testament examples of Great Faith. May we be found worthy by Him, as we stand boldly as they did and loudly proclaim, when the rubber finally meets the road "I AM NOT ASHAMED OF THE GOSPEL AND JESUS CHRIST IS MY LORD AND SAVIOR". AMEN
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