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February 16, 2020 | Doug Sauder
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“Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, ‘King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter.’”—Daniel 3:16 (NIV)
Have you ever had to defend yourself for something you considered to be right, proper, or correct? For some action you took (or didn’t take), a decision you made, something you said, something you wore, or something you believe in? I have heard countless stories of people who have been figuratively—and sometimes even literally—put on trial for living with conviction in an age of compromise, for standing up for their Christian beliefs, for living out the truth of His Word, and even just for reading His Word in a place that isn’t receptive to it.
In today’s passage, we see the first part of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s response to Nebuchadnezzar. After being the only people in the vicinity who didn’t bow before the golden statue, these young men were brought before the king. It’s clear from the overall tone of the text and from everything we know about their standing in the kingdom (Daniel 1:6–20) that the king respected them. And why wouldn’t he? They were rock stars, the cream of the crop, among the best and brightest in Babylon! And they were humble and respectful, too, despite being captives who were ripped from their homes and taken from their families.
That’s why instead of simply carrying out their punishment and throwing them into the fiery furnace, Nebuchadnezzar gave them a chance to defend themselves . . . or more accurately, a chance to submit and compromise by bowing down. But he makes sure to also deliver a thinly veiled threat about how no god could save them from his wrath if they don’t comply (Daniel 3:14-15).
And their response? “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter.” And why would they? They had a God on their side who could defend Himself and them; a God who “changes times and seasons . . . deposes kings and raises up others” (Daniel 2:21 NIV), a God who had allowed Nebuchadnezzar to be where he was and who ruled completely over him whether he realized it or not! They didn’t have to fear the king’s threat.
They knew with certainty their God could deliver them from the king’s hand; that as they stood in front of the head of an earthly kingdom they represented a kingdom that cannot be shaken and a God who is the only true consuming fire. And so, their only proper and possible response had to be to offer “to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe” (Hebrews 12:28 ESV). And that acceptable worship is to submit ourselves wholly and solely to Him!
DIG: Have you ever had to defend yourself on account of your faith? What was that like for you?
DISCOVER: Are you currently living in such a way that you could give the same response as these young men did, or are there areas of compromise in your life?
DO: Thank the Lord that He is your defender, that you don’t need to defend yourself because you have Him on your side!