I can not get away from the drama occurring as I read the early chapters of Daniel again this a.m. In a culture where any god, even many gods was the norm, egomaniacal King Nebuchadnezzar constructs a god of gold that just happened to look like him (another message here). He then demands that when his “boys” go to playing their horns, flutes, (what’s a zither), harps etc., everyone bows down to the image. His plan seemed to work, even with the backing of the religious leaders (Dan. 3:7-8) of this god-filled culture, with the exception for three people!
These are not your rank and file American fundamentalists who believe that if they tack the name of Jesus (not yet born, but even He shows up in the fire) on the end of their prayers God will do what they say! These true men of God, and of science (Dan. 1:4 KJV) understood that they were in fact putting their lives on the line, with the knowledge that God could choose to allow them to burn (Dan. 3:16-18) if it bettered the outcome of their testimony.
Furious (NIV), the King had them bound, and in his rage cranked up the heat seven times. He miscalculated his BTU’s and his own men were overcome with heat, with the three fully robed (love the detail) and bound Hebrews dropping onto the floor of the blazing furnace.
“Wait a minute”…he possibly declares, counting on his fingers! “Didn’t we throw three men in the fire and they were bound?” You know the story, now four in the fire walking around…again I suspect the fourth is the same who cooked fish on the shoreline shortly after the resurrection!
Both excited and somewhat Pentecostal, I see the King running up to the furnace (note that he was not consumed by the fire, as were earlier executioners), praising this “Most High God” with a different impression of His power than used in vs. 3:15 when he declared that no god could deliver them!
The King got religion and begins to testify to all the land about these courageous men who “trusted in him (God) and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.” (Dan. 3:28 NIV).
That’s the power of truth and testimony when applied in real world scenarios, and always trumps church as we know it!
Of course the king means well in his moment of revelation, but quickly reverts to his old political power plays, as he declares that those who fail to worship as he has decided, will be cut into pieces and their houses destroyed. I guess sanctification was a gradual work even back then?
My point for this entry: these men of God refused to bow down to the culture, the king or even lean on some petty doctrinal belief that assured them of some privilege of escape in a moment when God was at work in their country, not even their homeland. These authentic and rational believers knew what they were risking and their impact on the king and his cronies was powerful, not to mention the fact that God himself showed up in the fire!
Makes me wonder what would happen in our culture, if believers took such a stand?