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We Will Not Bow to Idols Dan. 3:1-18


We Will Not Bow to Idols

Text: Daniel 3:1-18   

We come to another account of faith under extreme trial:-

  1. The Ego-Driven Idolatry of the King. Dan. 3:1-7

Remember that in chapter 2 the kingdom of Babylon – Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom – was described as the head of a great statue, – that head made of gold, the purest and most precious of all the kingdoms in history. It’s no wonder his ego was inflated! So much so that he decided that since he was the ‘Golden King’ he’d make a giant image, of gold.,(V1) most likely of himself, – and have it erected in the Plain of Dura, a large ‘saucer shaped’ natural arena, lying south of the modern city of Baghdad. He summoned all the important people into his royal presence, (V2) and appointed a day for the dedication of his new idol. When the people had gathered, a herald would stand up and would cry aloud (V4). Those were the days before amplification – so what a voice that man must have had! – He gave the king’s command, 3:4b-6 And look at the threat that is implied upon failure to worship. Cast into a burning, fiery furnace, – cremation alive.

There’s two points of application: 

The first one is to warn me, – and you – not to be like Nebuchadnezzar! This idol was nothing more than the glorification of self.   Proverbs 16:18: 

The second is a challenge to us. What idols do our present ego-inflated governments and ruling classes demand that we should bow down and worship? The governments of this world, often acting in harmony, set up their idols, and demand loudly that you bow to them, and threaten terrible punishments to those who dissent

So, the day came. How many people were gathered in the Plain of Dura we will never know, – but a vast multitude from all over the world, all met together for one purpose – to bow down and worship the king’s idol. For most of them it was no big deal. Most of them worshipped idols and false gods anyway.  The man with the BIG voice stood up – I suppose on a platform of sorts, and he read the king’s proclamation. The praise-band began to play and all over that vast plain people began dropping to their knees to show their loyalty to the king, or their willing submission, or their fear of the furnace. Everywhere, – a sea of bodies bent over, bowed down. But wait! Unbelievably, there are three young men still standing, – they are refusing to bow!  

2. We Will Not Comply.

Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego’s blatant and highly visible act of disobedience to the royal command would not go unreported. Remember that in politics, back-stabbing is a constant danger, and these young men, foreigners of all things, were in high office in the City of Babylon, positions from which others had been recently ousted, and which they wanted back. So they were duly reported, V12-13 and dragged before the king to give an explanation. Nebuchadnezzar gave them another chance, –  Their answer is as far as I want to go in this narrative in this lesson today. Let’s look at it in v16-18:

  • They are not afraid of the king. Look at the plainness of their answer to the king, and compare it with the  grovelling approach of the king’s advisors in chapter 2:4   Some translations read, “We do not need to reply to this.” But they are simply stating that they don’t need to think about this, or hesitate about whether or not they would comply with king’s demand, – there is no debate needed here for them – God seeks and desires and commands our obedience, and bowing down before anything in this world is idolatry, and is contrary to his law. Nor did they need time to think how to word their reply – to get a ‘form of words’ that might be acceptable to all side. READ  Matthew 5:37  We are not to involve ourselves in double-speak. 
  • They are not afraid of death! V17 If it be so… If you decide to put us to death by fire, – then so be it! That’s what will happen. It really is a ‘turn or burn’ moment for these young men – but only in the earthly sense. They are not afraid to die, nor should we be – it is a far more fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God, having rejected his offer of mercy in Christ. Eternal fire is a far more fearsome prospect than the king’s overheated incinerator. READ Matthew 10:28  
  • They have confidence in God. V17  Even if the king does his worst, our god is mightier than the earthly king and he can deliver us from the most extreme and dangerous circumstances.,  Finally,
  • They TRUST in the Lord. V18  Now here’s the really important point. It actually doesn’t matter what happens to these three men, whether the king threatens them or kills them, and whether God in his mercy and sovereign will steps in and saves them or even if he does not, they are still not going to disobey Him, they are still not going to bow before the idol. 

Now, why is this important? Because we modern Christians need to learn this same lesson, to trust the Lord whatever he decides is going to be our lot and portion in this life. To be like Job, who said in Job 13:15 Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.  Sometimes God doesn’t answer our prayers the way we expect him to or want him to. Who are we to question God’s will, even when our path seems dark and hard to understand. Those three Hebrews, facing certain death, could have complained that God was not listening to them – or else they would be magically lifted out of all the present dangers, they could have declared their victory and by faith overcome all their enemies… But there’s the guard and there’s the furnace, and there’s death, staring them in the faith, – and it’s going to happen within minutes, and there hasn’t been a bolt of lighting or a miraculous delivery… What will they do? They are clear. God is going to deliver us, but even if he doesn’t, – we are still going to live for him – we trust HIM!

And in our next lesson, we shall see how this works out, and we shall try to figure out why God saves his people out of danger, rather than from danger! 

© Bob McEvoy August 2022

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