Many reading Daniel 3 could easily confuse it with a Hollywood blockbuster script. It would probably shock your unchurched mate to find out that it’s actually a historical account recorded by Daniel around the sixth century BC. We see that Daniel’s three mates, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, came to an impasse in Babylon wherein they’d either bow down in worship to Nebo (patron God of Nebuchadnezzar) or otherwise be thrown into a fiery furnace (v4-6)!
Gladly for Christians in the West today such an ultimatum is unheard of. Rather there’s widespread cultural pressures to conform to the postmodern secular mantra of tolerance that funnily enough back-tracks in being largely intolerant towards the unique beliefs held by Christians, particularly when these are voiced in public life. It’s even worse in many developing countries around the globe where millions everyday experience high levels of persecution for their choice to follow Christ, thousands of whom lose their lives as a consequence (Open Doors, 2020).
We read in Daniel 3 that incredibly, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refuse to bend the knee in worship of anyone but God, despite the threat on their lives. They’re fully aware of God’s first commandment shared by Moses, “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). What’s amazing in Daniel 3 concerning the choice made by Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego is that there’s no sense of it being a begrudging obligation but rather a confident and fully persuaded decision. Moreover, they present before those watching a bewildering and astounding hope that God shall rescue them from the fiery furnace. Nothing like this had ever been seen or heard of yet they believed. We should allow this to sink in and take hold of us as we extend our hand to pray for seemingly impossible things such as the person with terminal cancer, the friend suffering from decades of addiction, or the repeat offender locked behind bars.
Though high in faith, we can be vulnerable to falling into a pit of presumption about how and when God will take care of matters. This can lead to unbiblical triumphalism and also resentment toward God and his people when things don’t pan out as expected. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were certainly sky high in their level of faith concerning God’s love and his power to save them. Yet they disclosed that God’s deliverance from their current plight may not actually happen as expected but regardless of this their worship was reserved for God alone. Far from expressing limited faith, such a disclosure highlighted a robust faith that went beyond loving God on the basis of what they could immediately receive from God to the more stable foundation of loving God for who he is. They were settled that he is God – fully powerful, fully in control, fully good, and fully for them, despite how circumstances appeared. When we love God on this basis we are far more secure and resilient in the trials we face. We can trust him no matter what, no if’s or buts. What are we waiting for?