Lessons from the book of Daniel
Daniel, ch 3 part 3

The king said, Now if you’re ready, when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, drum, and every kind of music, fall down and worship the statue I made. But if you don’t worship it, you will immediately be thrown into a furnace of blazing fire—and who is the god who can rescue you from my power? In other words, don’t think you’ll get away. I will kill you. That’s a promise.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied to the king, “Nebuchadnezzar, we don’t need to give you an answer to this question.” 

Remember this phrase: “We don’t need to give you an answer…”

Do you think these guys are tempted to defend themselves? I do, but that’s not how they respond. They understand that they aren’t called to explain their position. They aren’t looking for time to find a way to meet the king’s requirement without violating their conscience.

I would have been tempted to say to my buddies: “’Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’ How about when the music starts we all bend down and retie our sandals? Worship is really about the heart. God knows we do not believe in idols. That’s not going to change. There’s no point in losing our lives and the great potential influence we can have in this culture. Think about it, men. God has put us in a position of leadership here in Babylon. We’re in charge of things. We’re not just risking our careers; we’re risking our lives if we don’t bow. We could completely lose our opportunity to glorify God in Babylon.

“What I think this comes down to, gentlemen, is a stewardship issue. We agree that God has put us in this position of leadership. If God has put us in this position and this is what we have to do in order to maintain our position of leadership, not to mention our lives, I believe that the godly thing to do is not to quibble with this king. He can’t begin to understand where we’re coming from theologically. All he’s asking is that we not be blatantly offensive. Let’s just bow down. We don’t have to worship. We just have to get down on the ground. The king can’t see our hearts. He didn’t let us answer earlier when he asked if the accusations that we hadn’t bowed down are true. He wants to help us out. We’ve been given a great opportunity by the king. We don’t want to be stubborn and arrogant.”

These young men certainly seem stubborn and arrogant in their refusal to bow. These are very young men and this is the king they are dealing with. He is on their side. He’s giving them another chance to do the “right thing.” Sometimes we just have to get along and go along. We have to go along to get along. Compromise. These young men were given the opportunity to shape public opinion. They could open a door of influence with the king. All they have to do is bow down. Just retie the sandals.

“…we don’t need to give you an answer to this question.  If the God we serve exists, then he can rescue us from the furnace of blazing fire, and he can rescue us from the power of you, the king. But even if he does not rescue us, we want you as king to know that we will not serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up.”

There was a time as recently as World War II when British soldiers trapped behind enemy lines sent a cryptic message to headquarters that ended, “But if not.” The folks back in Britain recognized the reference to the story of the Fiery Furnace. Of course, the trapped soldiers hoped to be rescued, but they expressed their ultimate confidence in the eternal God. Back then, part of the public education in the western world was the Bible. This was a passage the students had memorized. We don’t live in a culture like that anymore. We gave it away.