We’ve all heard the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They were three Jews who were taken to Babylon in exile. King Nebuchadnezzar foolishly issued a law that required everyone to bow down and worship his image whenever music was played for that purpose. Being worshipers of the one true God, these men refused. The penalty for this was to be cast into a fiery furnace. Their bravery—their faith—enabled them to meet their fate while refusing to dishonor God. Three men were cast in, yet everyone looking into the furnace could see four men walking around. The fourth was none other than the Son of God, rescuing his people. When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were allowed to come out, they were unharmed—not a hair was burnt! In response to this King Nebuchadnezzar issued the following public proclamation:
King Nebuchadnezzar to all peoples, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth: Peace be multiplied to you! It has seemed good to me to show the signs and wonders that the Most High God has done for me. How great are his signs how mighty his wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion endures from generation to generation.Daniel 4:1–3 ESV
It seems inconceivable that a ruler, a public official, would demand worship of himself to begin with, yet this is at the core of our culture’s celebrity worship, whether the celebrity is an athlete, a wealthy businessman, a musician or musical performer, or a politician. Selfishness and self-centeredness and a lust for power and fame drive many to what appears to be success, which is frequently accompanied by a look-at-me attitude.
What led to Nebuchadnezzar’s change, to him publicly glorifying the God of Israel? He saw God sustain his people in a crisis. He saw the faith of three men as they faced a terrible fate, and then as they went into the fire and endured that fate. While God does not always rescue from the fire—and they were not sure if he would! (see Daniel 3:16–18)—people watch faith in action. Unbelievers see the faith of Christians as they go through a crisis, whether the crisis is direct oppression through persecution or financial ruin or disease or suffering along with everyone else in a huge economic downturn.
What this means is we have an incredible opportunity. By living in faith we can point others to God. By showing the worth and value of our God, worth that is demonstrated in our implicit faith in him no matter what comes our way, even proud and arrogant kings can be moved to worship God.
Let’s pray today for God to move in the hearts of “kings”. Pray for Mayor Bliss and for Governor Whitmer and for Representative Amash and for Senators Stabenow and Peters and for President Trump. Pray for each of them to recognize the one true God, to repent and believe in him. Pray for one another. Pray for our faith to be strong in whatever crisis we may be facing, whether it is oppression or financial ruin or disease. Pray that each one of us would face the fire the way Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego faced it:
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”Daniel 3:16–18 ESV