Hi. Welcome to Redeem the Commute. I’m Ryan, your host of the daily challenges. Today is Tuesday, the day we study the Bible together. This week we’re going to study a story from the Book of Daniel.
As predicted by many prophets, Israel’s time of safety and security was ending. Israel has just been overrun by the Babylonians, an enemy nation led by King Nebuchadnezzar. He didn’t simply annihilate them, he actually wanted what they had, including their potential leaders. He had some of their best young leaders join his court, including Daniel, who the book is named for, and three young men we’ll hear about in this story:
Therefore at that time certain Chaldeans came forward and maliciously accused the Jews. They declared to King Nebuchadnezzar, “O king, live forever! You, O king, have made a decree, that every man who hears the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, shall fall down and worship the golden image. And whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast into a burning fiery furnace. There are certain Jews whom you have appointed over the affairs of the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These men, O king, pay no attention to you; they do not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”
Then Nebuchadnezzar in furious rage commanded that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be brought. So they brought these men before the king. Nebuchadnezzar answered and said to them, “Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up? Now if you are ready when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, well and good. But if you do not worship, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?”
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”
Then Nebuchadnezzar was filled with fury, and the expression of his face was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He ordered the furnace heated seven times more than it was usually heated. And he ordered some of the mighty men of his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace. Then these men were bound in their cloaks, their tunics, their hats, and their other garments, and they were thrown into the burning fiery furnace. Because the king’s order was urgent and the furnace overheated, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell bound into the burning fiery furnace. (Daniel 3:3-30)
If you were following our challenges when we talked about the 10 commandments, think back to how many related to the Hebrews never worshipping other gods, especially graven images like this golden statue! This one is over the top, as well, it’s huge!
It was over the top, forcing everyone to conform and bow down in worship way too often. If this was a statue of the king himself, it was an ego play, and if it was of one of his gods, it was oppressive and heavyhanded. But this is what oppressive governments do, especially when dealing with a conquered people with a long history of resisting integration and assimilation by others.
Whether the statue was of as pagan god, or the king himself, it was something the Jews could simply not do. The punishment was swift and severe, with them being thrown in a fiery furnace to die as an example to others. Apparently he was so angry, he asked for a furnace so hot that his workers died throwing the men in. No one could survive this angry dictator’s wrath.
Question: Imagine the discussion around the court that day – what opinions do you think would have been around?