The golden image had been raised, the command had gone out, the music played. A sea of humanity as one has rushed to comply, to bow down, to worship this idol, this golden image of a non-god as commanded by their megalomaniac king. Still standing among this wave of bent backs are three young foreigners: exiles, slaves, God fearers. The Bible tells us that these three were right, and the rest, the majority & the leadership were wrong.
The Babylon of Daniel’s day presented the same choice that Christians face in the world today. For many today that choice, to follow Christ, is also, similarly a matter of life and death. For those in more moderate regimes the choice is still one of whether to conform to, to bow down to this world order or to stand.
When all those around us are bowing down to the world, to tradition, to the lie of self importance to anything and anyone but God, the simple, solitary question sticks out just as clearly as did Hannaniah, Mishael and Azariah on that provocative day: will you stand?
These three godly men had no guarantee of God’s deliverance from the fiery furnace. All they had was a clear understanding of right and wrong, of who was God and who was not. They stood because God is God and the golden image was not, and Nebuchadnezzar was not. They stood on principle and in faith that obedience to God and service to God was of more value than their lives. A careful reading of the text would point to Nebuchadnezzar’s arrogant challenge to God as the provocation to God’s miraculous intervention. Many believers before and after have lost their lives in similar situations. This isn’t about miraculous intervention, it’s about standing, regardless of the outcome. The question remains: will you stand?
And yet, if they hadn’t stood they never would have experienced God’s intervention in their lives and in history in such a wonderful way. Not only to be cast into the fiery furnace and survive without even a whiff of smoke, but to be joined in their ‘demise’ by one ‘like a son of the gods’ is more than they could have imagined. The truth of the matter is that many of us will miss out on the extraordinary experience of God because they failed to take a simple stand.
In a godless world with godless leaders and a culture that would drive you to bend the knee to that which is not God the question still remains:
Will you stand?