If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: 1 Kings 21, 1 Thessalonians 4, Daniel 3, Psalm 107. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can’t do all the readings today, read Daniel 3.
Jobs can be tough sometimes—the work is difficult, exhausting, and/or dirty or the boss and/or co-workers are hard to work with. Sometimes the people you work for or with are so difficult that you feel you have a “hostile workplace.” Daniel and his friends can certainly relate! First, they were in this “workplace” not by choice but because they had been taken captive by the Babylonians and shipped off to Babylon. Although they got to serve in the king’s palace, he tried to dictate what they ate and drank (Dan 1), tried to have them all killed when they couldn’t perform an impossible task (Dan 2), and now here in Daniel 3, they are told to worship the king’s statue or else.
This story only talks about Daniel’s three friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Where was Daniel? We have no idea; it is impossible that he would be in the group who worshipped the idol so we assume was not there. Commentators believe that the image Nebuchadnezzar erected was similar to the one he saw in his dream from chapter 2, except it was covered with gold rather than just having a gold head. This seems like a reasonable interpretation of events. God speaks to Nebuchadnezzar, compares his kingdom to a gold head, then told him about what nations would be like in the future. Although Nebuchadnezzar honored the Lord and Daniel at the end of chapter 2 (see vv. 46-47), he couldn’t stop thinking about that statue and what a cool thing it would be to build one and make people worship it. When you are an absolute monarch with a massive empire behind you, you can do those kinds of things. So, that’s what he did and his actions presented yet another challenge to these Jewish men who wanted to remain faithful to the Lord in a hostile environment.
Nebuchadnezzar must have anticipated resistance to the worship he mandated because he had that furnace built. When he learned that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego would not comply, he was upset (v. 13) but willing to give them another chance (vv. 14-15) but not before issuing the key challenge of the chapter: “Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?” (v. 15c). Without flinching or taking their second chance, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego stated their intentions to trust God and let him do what he wanted. We are well aware of the outcome and how God glorified himself by delivering Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (vv. 19-30) but don’t miss their words in verses 17-18: “God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods….” They knew that God was under no obligation to deliver them and that it might just be his will for them to suffer and die for their faith. Unfortunately, we have brothers and sisters around the world who face this same threat and do not experience a miraculous deliverance. Let’s resolve, then, not to be shy about our commitment to Christ even if it hurts our career or even costs us something in the future from our government. Let’s also remember to pray for other Christians around the world who are suffering and dying for their faith in Jesus. I didn’t set out to make this an advertisement, but I can’t ignore the opportunity: join us on Sunday evening, November 6 at 6 p.m. in the chapel for the International Day of Prayer for the persecuted church.
Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we’ll talk scripture again tomorrow.