These three young men said no. No. They wouldn’t bow to the image the king had made. They wouldn’t bow to a god that was manmade. They would risk their lives and their livelihoods in order to remain faithful to the One True God. And so they didn’t bend their knee just to puff up the king’s ego. Oh. It’s most likely that they knew in advance what they would be asked to do so. How could they not know the king was having a huge image built outside the city limits? I’m sure it was the talk of the town. I can imagine people passing each other on the street and checking to see what progress had been made. I’m sure it was a curiosity of sorts. And what exactly was it for?
Then suddenly anyone who was anyone was asked to bow to this monstrosity. As the king and his top officials sat and watched, the crowd was instructed to bow when they heard the orchestra begin to play. I’m sure it was a large crowd. After all, anyone with a title and leadership role from far and wide had been invited to this celebration. And they were expected to attend. To refuse would have been a career breaker. To say the least. So all invitees were in attendance on that day.
But back to these three young men. Most likely, they were still teenagers. They had been taken captive by the Babylonians when King Nebuchadnezzar had seized the city of Jerusalem. They and many other young men of nobility had been whisked away to a foreign land to live as exiles. They had no choice but to go. And then they were sent to a re-education school where they learned exactly what their new employer, the king, wanted them to know. His plan was to erase their allegiance to God and insert allegiance to his many gods. His plan was a failure, at least when it came to these three guys. But they had become acquainted with the king, so he knew who they were. They weren’t total strangers to the king, much as all the other attendees in the crowd were. The king could identify these three young men, because they were close friends of one of his top officials named Daniel.
As they heard the news that a celebration was being planned for the new image being built, these three men set in their hearts to stand true to the God of their people, the Israelites. They would not bow to this new idol, regardless of the cost. And so, when the music played announcing it was time to bow, they stood tall. They refused to bow. They refused to obey the king’s orders. And, of course, their act of disobedience was noticed. When everyone is bowing, it’s easy to see who isn’t. So they didn’t go unnoticed on that day, and their act of alleged treason was reported to the king.
At first, the king gave them a second chance. There must have been enormous pressure on these young men to just bow. Just do it. As they say. Perhaps they didn’t understand the instructions to bow. Or perhaps, they were sidetracked by gawking at all the other attendees. But no. They knew exactly what they were doing when they didn’t bow. And they even said so in no uncertain terms to the king. They would not bow to this idol. Of course, the king changed his mood from kindness to anger very quickly. He lashed out at them and demanded that they be thrown into a fiery furnace. He wanted to see them die.
You can read the full story of these brave young men in Daniel 3.
Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever. 1 John 2:15-17
I wonder. What would I have done? If I was told ahead of time that my employer was planning to require all employees to bow to an idol they had made, what would I do? Perhaps I could call in sick for the day. But I’m sure that would be noticed. Could I half bow? Would that appease them? Or. I could make the tough decision to stand firm in my faith and not let fear of the unknown weaken my stance. If I knew ahead of time that this idol worship was to be required of me, I could prepare my defense. I could begin praying and asking my friends to pray with me and for me. I could surround myself with prayer warriors who would stand in the gap if my faith began to waver.
People today are being called on to go against their faith. Some are asked to add pronouns to their work email signatures. Some are asked to appease men who want to participate in women’s sports. We’re asked to applaud and affirm social agendas that go directly against our faith. We’re asked to support events and speakers who stand against those who present a biblical worldview.
And just for the record. When we’re asked to go against our faith, we must refuse. We must make the decision beforehand that there is a line we won’t cross. We must decide that we will be willing to defend our faith when the moment comes. Do or die. We must be ready, willing and prepared to die on the hill that stands before us. If we’re asked to do or say anything that would defile our relationship with God, we must be courageous and stand strong in our faith. If God doesn’t approve of it, this his followers mustn’t either. If we contradict God, we’re placing our relationship with him in grave danger.
Perhaps our step of courage will be the start of a movement that gives others the same courage to stand for their faith. Let’s never underestimate the power of God working in us and through us. Children of God, we are not in this fight alone. God is on our side. Let’s make it known that we’re on God’s side. No hesitation. No doubt. No denial.
If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Romans 8:31
But all it takes is the courage of one in the face of opposition for others to follow.Unknown