Then He said to them, ‘Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.’
– Matthew 22:21
Bow or Burn
The new statue of Nebuchadnezzar stood in all its golden ninety-foot glory, erected to honor the Babylonian king. Nebuchadnezzar planned a very special celebration for its dedication. A proclamation had been issued and sent throughout his kingdom: “O peoples, nations and men of every language, that at the moment you hear the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery bagpipe and all kinds of music, you are to fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king has set up.” (Daniel 3:4-5)
Nearby, a large furnace waited to execute a fiery end to anyone who dared to defy the king’s orders.
The day came. The music played. Everybody bowed.
Everyone, that is, except three young Hebrew men named Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. These men were among those taken from their homes as captives of Babylon and trained in service to the pagan king with the new names of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego.
In captivity these three men had served peacefully in the king’s court, administrating the kingdom for the very person who made them slaves. They lived out an unfathomable depth of trust in their God as they served under difficult circumstances.
Now they were presented with a dilemma.
They must feign worship to the image at the king’s command or face instant execution in a blazing furnace of fire. It would be easy to avoid the flames. They would not bow to a foreign sovereign, however, even in pretense.
They stood alone as the people fell before the idol.
The king, angered at their insolence, ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego were tied up and thrown into the furnace. The men who carried them to the furnace were themselves killed by the intense heat.
Then Nebuchadnezzar stood, astounded.
In the middle of the flames walked four men, unharmed and unbound. As for the three captives, the fire did not even singe their clothes. They walked out just as they entered, with one notable exception: they were free. The fire had done no damage except to burn their bonds.
Who was the fourth man? Nebuchadnezzar exclaimed that the fourth had the appearance of a son of the gods. Did he know he beheld the King of kings?
When others are bowing to the enemy of their souls, stand for Christ
If you are facing a trial by fire, and you feel the immense temptation to appease those around you, remember Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. Stand for Christ. The flames heating up around you might simply be there to burn the ropes keeping you in bondage.
If you do not bow the knee to your enemy, you will emerge unsinged at the end of the day. And you will have walked with the Son.