Daniel was living in the last days of the southern kingdom of Judah. He was taken to Babylon during the 1st deportation in 605 B.C. King Nebuchadnezzar had deported a number of the royal family, nobles and wise men to Babylon (2 Kings 24:1-5). Daniel and his three friends, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, were among those brought to Babylon and given new names: Daniel = Belteshazzar, Hananiah = Shadrach, Mishael = Meshach, and Azariah = Abednego.
These men were trained for three years in Babylonian literature/language in preparation for the king’s service. While there, God gave them special insight and wisdom, and Daniel was given the ability to understand/interpret dreams and visions. The book of Daniel begins in 605 B.C. and continues until the rise of the Persian king Cyrus in 539 B.C. (Daniel 1:21)
Read Daniel 3:1-30.
In chapter 3, Nebuchadnezzar erected a large image of gold of himself – a statue 90 feet high and 9 feet wide, and demanded that everyone bow down and worship him. The statue was built close to the city of Babylon and eight classes of officials were summoned: the court of the king, military commanders, civil administrators, government authorities, judges, and law officers. The king demanded they all fall (bow) down and worship the image (swear allegiance to him). Failure to comply with the command was penalized by immediate death – by being thrown into a blazing furnace. Overwhelmed by the king’s command, the awesomeness of the image, and the sound of the music, the assembled officials, peoples, nations and men of every language fell down and worshiped the image of gold. All that is, except three guys.
Several astrologers (court advisors) denounced the three “recent college graduates” named Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, apparently because they were very jealous that the king had set Daniel’s friends over the affairs of the province of Babylon and didn’t let them simply be slaves, as were the rest of the Jewish captives. But Daniel’s friends had been noticed by the king in 1:20 as having unusual ability and were promoted in the government after graduation.
When the king heard the accusation c/o the three Hebrews, he was furious, which shows how important and significant this event was to him. He gave them another opportunity to bow down before the image and that’s where our story picks up. Read about their courageous response to cultural and governmental pressure in chapter 3:16-18.
What do you admire the most about these 3 young Jews in the Babylonian marketplace? Their courage to defy authority? Their witness for God? Their faith in God for a miracle? Their trust in God no matter what would happen? Which of those qualities do you need right now?
The Bible commands us to be strong and courageous. But we read the story in Judges 7:3 when God told Gideon to announce to his 32,000 troops, “Anyone who trembles with fear can turn back…and 22,000 men left.”; When the Israelites saw a giant named Goliath stand up and challenge them, 1 Samuel 17:24 says, “they all ran from him in great fear.” And don’t forget the night Jesus was arrested, Matthew 26:56 records that all his disciples deserted him and fled.”
That’s not courage, but cowardice. One woman said, “We fear men so much, because we fear God so little.” Think theologically. The size of your God determines the size of your faith.
Love is a verb,
©2015 by Mike Olejarz