We live in a world that is desperately short of heroes, and what we need today are heroes. We need those people who have noble convictions which they will never compromise regardless of the cost. Oh, where are those like the hero in Psalm 15: “He swears to his own hurt, and he does not change.”
One of the best places to find heroes is in the pages of the Bible where people like you and me display extraordinary courage and valor as they trust the Lord and are obedient to Him. Lately I have been spending time in the book of “Daniel,” and here I have found men who are willing to obey the LORD even in the face of dreadful consequences. Yes, here in “Daniel” I have found heroes.
In Daniel chapter 3, King Nebuchadnezzar decides to build a giant golden idol in Babylon and to command all his officials from all over his realm to bow down to his golden image. As a motivator for their obedience, the king promises that anyone who does not bow down to his image will be thrown into a furnace of blazing fire. So, as expected, when the signal is given, everyone obediently bows down to the golden image – everyone, that is, except Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. In a field full of prostrated people, these three Hebrew men remain conspicuously standing. Apparently defying the king’s command and despising the flames of the king’s fiery furnace, our heroes stand firm. They REFUSE TO BOW DOWN to a false god and idol WHEN THEY ARE COMMANDED TO BOW DOWN, even though their disobedience comes with a death threat. Unless God intervenes, these men will surely die. But God “sent His angel and delivered His servants (Daniel 3:28)” so that our heroes are vindicated.
In Daniel chapter 6, King Darius is tricked into establishing an injunction in Babylon that says “that whoever makes petition to any god or man for thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions (Daniel 6:7).” It is obvious that this ridiculous injunction was conceived to trap Daniel, since it was well known that he prayed to his God three times a day, every day. The conspirators’ plan was that the injunction would either result in Daniel’s ceasing to pray or it would result in his death in the lion’s den. What does Daniel do? Apparently defying the king’s injunction and despising the teeth of the lion’s den, our hero continues to bow down. Daniel REFUSES TO NOT BOW DOWN because of a man’s injunction WHEN HE IS COMMANDED TO NOT BOW DOWN, even though his disobedience comes with a death threat. Unless God intervenes, Daniel will surely die. But God “sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths (Daniel 6:22)” so that our hero is vindicated.
In both these cases, our heroes are commanded to obey a man’s command that is contrary to God’s commands. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to worship Nebuchadnezzar’s idol, because to worship the idol would be to disobey the LORD. And so, they refused to bow down, even though a fiery furnace awaited. Daniel refused to stop bowing down to worship his God, because to stop worship would be to disobey the LORD. And so, he continued to bow down, even though a den of lions awaited.
Also, their decision to obey God rather than man (Acts 4:19; 5:29) was both automatic and absolute. Automatic in that the decision was made without deliberation. The decision had been made long ago and this event was merely an occasion to put the resolution into effect. Absolute, in that it was unconditional and was not subject to change. No threat or coercion could sway the decision.
How does this apply to us? As our gospel message and mission continue to become more and more hostile to our culture, we will experience opportunities to compromise to the commands and demands of our society. Therefore, the disciple of Jesus needs to decide NOW to obey the Lord and to do what the Lord commands automatically and absolutely. Our enemy is a crafty and deceitful liar (John 8:44) and he will provide temptations to compromise suddenly and without warning. We must have our lines already drawn in the sand and we must already be prepared to stand firm (Ephesians 6:11ff). We must have already decided what it looks like to not bow down to what the world worships and never stop bowing down in our worship to the Lord.
SDG rmb 7/20/2020