WOULD THEY COMPROMISE?
Compromise could have been easy. Compromise could have come about with the thought that, after all, they wanted to share the true gospel with these idol worshippers and it would upset God’s plan if they were thrown into the fiery furnace.
They could have convinced themselves they were bowing down to the Babylonian idol but that it was acceptable because, inside, they were praising and praying to the Lord. He knew their hearts didn’t He? However, that’s called being double-minded and these youth were of sterner stuff than that.
I have shared this story before yet it seems to bear repeating now. Decades ago I almost succumbed to that dilemma myself. My parents were having a special 50th wedding anniversary Mass said for them in the Catholic Church. All of a sudden, it was time for communion. By this time I knew the doctrines of the Catholic Church (see the earlier blog series on the many differences between the Bible and Catholicism) and the unbiblical errors of communion…but what was I to do? My parents had taken the communion wafer, I was the oldest child and the entire church was waiting for me to partake. I loved my parents and wanted to “honor” them as the Commandment says. Yet the Bible also tells us we are to love the Lord even above our parents. I knew the Lord knew my heart and knew how much I loved Him; He knew how much turmoil I was in. I looked at my husband – my quiet husband who loved the Lord and knew me so well that, without one word from me, recognized what I was going through. He looked at me and with one, small shake of his head, he freed me from my turmoil.
Colossians 3:15 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)
15 And let the peace from Christ rule (act as umpire continually) in your hearts [deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your minds, in that peaceful state] to which as [members of Christ’s] one body you were also called [to live]. And be thankful (appreciative), [giving praise to God always]
Back and forth I had gone in my dilemma, but now the issue was finally settled. My heart was in total peace and I thanked the Lord. We did not take communion, and after a very long minute it became obvious to the priest, my parents and the whole church that we would not. Incredibly, my parents never remarked on it. I truly believe the Lord gave us favor with my parents because the decision we made pleased Him.
THEY CALMLY COUNTED THE COST
Back to the story. All the cards are laid out in the open for all to see and hear. Both sides clearly state the terms of this spiritual and physical battle:
Daniel 3:14-18 New King James Version (NKJV) (emphasis mine)
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 is the 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.”
Nebuchadnezzar is locked in a one-on-one battle: his god against the Almighty God. Nebuchadnezzar even goes so far in the tenor of his voice to taunt God. On the other side, notice the calm demeanor, the courage of these three stalwart souls. They are not ashamed or afraid to show where their true loyalty lies. They go so far as to boldly proclaim His power – He is able to deliver us from the fires (see also Isaiah 43:2). And then that glorious statement of ultimate faith is made “but if not” – Even if He doesn’t, He is still our God! Job 13:15 states “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.” How many martyrs have echoed that phrase down through the ages.
These three stalwart souls would rather die than sin against their God. They could live a longer life without God or die knowing God for all eternity. Everyone else there in that enormous crowd had the same choice to make. Sadly, only those three thought about eternity.
When a warrior went to battle in medieval times, the first thing he had to do was kneel and bend his sword over his knee to see if it would break. He needed to know that it would hold up in the heat of the battle. And, Lord, we are Your swords in many ways, and there are times when You bend us over Your knee to see if we’ll break. And if we don’t break, then You use us to win mighty victories.
May we trust in Your great delivering power. May we allow the tensions, and tests, and trials that come our way to be those things which refine us like gold. And may we not compromise and forfeit the blessedness that is ours when we stand true. And may we know that through it all there will be standing at our side One like a son of the gods, a Divine companion, to strengthen us in the midst of battle.
Make us an uncompromising people that like these young men we may stand firm, that the world may say, “Blessed is the God of this person who could call from them such yieldedness.” May that be our testimony, for Christ’s sake. Amen. (Grace to You) https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/27-11/uncompromising-faith-in-the-fiery-furnace-part-2
From the beginning they had prepared for this moment. Daniel 1:8 states that that they purposed (determined) in their hearts that they would not defile themselves. Their hearts stayed steadfast and true to their God, no matter what
They are resolved rather to die in their integrity than live in their iniquity and in the sin of idolatry. Those who would not defile themselves with either the King’s meat or wine will not, ever more significantly, defile themselves with the King’s idols. Integrity that demonstrates itself in small issues will mature to demonstrate itself even more in larger issues. (Matthew Henry Commentary)
The root word for integrity is righteousness, right standing with God. The renowned Bible teacher, Steve Farrar, comments that God tests His men privately so that they can be trusted publicly. Needless to say, I believe he would agree with the Matthew Henry statement above.
Their acknowledgment of God over the world’s most powerful king resulted in God’s supreme power being revealed to unbelievers. Their faith demonstrates that God is able to deliver us from our own problems and trials.
THE END OF OUR GLORIOUS STORY
King Nebuchadnezzar, furious at their reply, had the three youth bound with ropes and tossed into the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual. But, wonder of wonders, as they watched, four men, unbound, were walking around in the blazing furnace, unhurt, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods! When these “servants of the Most High God” were removed, it was obvious that the fire had not touched them: their hair was not singed, their coats were unscorched and they didn’t even smell of smoke. The King’s comments are noteworthy:
Daniel 3:28-29 New King James Version (NKJV)
28 Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, who sent His Angel and delivered His servants who trusted in Him, and they have frustrated the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they should not serve nor worship any god except their own God! 29 …there is no other God who can deliver like this.”
The King had seen the Son of God (i.e. “God’s Angel” called a Theophany in the Old Testament) in the flesh and was thoroughly amazed!
Indeed, there is no other God Who can deliver like this. Let’s take a big leap into the New Testament to two verses most of you are probably very familiar with. Somehow, right now, they seem to convey the essence of courage, commitment and lack of compromise.
Romans 12:1-2 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)
12 I appeal to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable service and spiritual worship.
2 Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you].
In view of the inspirational story of the three young men – (somehow it doesn’t seem appropriate to call them youth) – do these verses take on new meaning to you? Paul uses powerful phrases to bring us, I think, to a place of commitment. “Decisive dedication” has a whole-hearted thoughtful ring to it. “Living sacrifice” reminds me of the cross. “Reasonable service” says to me that if I reasonably consider all that Jesus did for me, anything He asks of me, I should obey. “Transformed…entire renewal of my mind by new ideals and attitudes” prompts me to ask the Lord to show me where I am out of alignment with His perfect will; to repent of it and ask Him to transform me so that I am pleasing in His sight.
SELAH: PAUSE AND CALMLY THINK ON THIS
Approximately 75 youth came from Israel to Babylon. They were all about the same age. All were probably trained in the temple by highly educated priests and their fathers who were obligated to teach them the laws of the Torah. Spiritually, they should have been exactly the same. Yet only four of them were willing to lay down their lives for their God and 71 were not. In view of that, I have two questions. What made each group so different? And, most importantly, on that fateful day, which group would you have sided with?
Matthew Henry Commenry. Daniel 1:8