Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold on the plain of Dura. It was commanded publicly that when the appropriate signal was given that all would “fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up: And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace” (Daniel 3:5-6). God’s people at this time were in captivity and subjected to the rule of Nebuchadnezzar.
Daniel, and three young Hebrew men named Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah had risen to prominence in those trying times and in those trying conditions (Daniel 1:17-21). It was found that their wisdom and understanding were ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm (Dan. 1:20). These three young men, whose names were changed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, were set over the affairs of the province of Babylon, but Daniel sat in the gate of the king” (Daniel 2:49).
These young Hebrew children were also faithful to their God. God had said in His law “Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me” (Exodus 20:3-5).
Because they were faithful to Jehovah, there arose a conflict in their lives. Should they obey the command of the King, who told them not to worship Jehovah as Jehovah had said or should they obey their God, Who told them not to bow down to man-made idols? For them, there was really no conflict at all, no trouble in deciding which way they should go. Not even when the king commanded in spite that the furnace to be made seven times as hot as normal (Dan. 3:19).
They responded boldly to Nebuchadnezzar: “O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up (Daniel 3:16-18).
There was no compromise on their part, no wavering even in the face of death. No fear of the retribution promised by earthly dignitaries. Only a solemn determination to follow the commands of their True King, Jehovah God. What an example of courage. What an example of faith. Oh that God’s people would have such courage. Oh that they would have such faith today.
These three Hebrew children were not alone. Daniel found himself in a similar situation under Darius the Mede. Daniel was appointed by Darius over all the princes of the kingdom. But those jealous princes connived a way to attack Daniel by getting Darius to pass a law, by playing to his pride, which would have cast into the lions den anyone who prayed to anyone except the king. Daniel knew this law was put into place and yet he chose to obey His God instead of the king. God protected him from the lions when the king reluctantly carried out his arbitrary, man-made laws.
The apostles faced a similar situation when they were commanded by the authorities not to teach or to preach at all in the name of the Lord. What do you think the apostles would do? “Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, ‘We ought to obey God rather than men'” (Acts 5:29).
Brethren, the application of the lesson is clear. Don’t fall down and worship the image of gold. We ought to obey God rather than men.
Eric L. Padgett