DANIEL 3:16-18: “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied to the king, “Nebuchadnezzar, 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.” CSB
OBSERVATION: Why do I obey the Lord? Do I obey Him out of fear? Do I obey Him because I am hoping to receive something in return? What is the motivation of my obedience?
The story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego is a lesson on obedience. It shows us both the motivation and the price of true obedience. This familiar story speaks volumes to the modern day church. It speaks volumes to my heart.
The foundational issue of this story is – “Who are your going to worship?” Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were among the Jews who had been taken in exile to Babylon. They were trained in the way of the Chaldeans and enlisted to work as overseers in King Nebuchadnezzar’s court. They were living in a pagan culture and endeavoring to be faithful to the Lord.
All was going well until their devotion was challenged. When King Nebuchadnezzar erected his golden statue, commanded everyone to worship it or be throne into the fiery furnace, for these three Hebrew men it was crunch time. What would they do? Would they succumb to the pressure and bow down to the statue or would they remain faithful to Yahweh at the cost of their lives?
All of us remember this story from Sunday School. However, how does it practically apply to our lives today? No one is erecting golden statues today and calling us to bow down to them. Or, are they? The golden statues we face today may not be physical, but they are still calling us to make a decision on where we will place our devotion and obedience. Let me give you a very practical example.
I work for a company that owns a candle plant. In fact, I negotiated the purchase of this plant for our company and got it running again from the brink of bankruptcy. Candle making is a combination of art and automation. And, in the process of making candles there is waste. Machines break down, boxes fall off the line, and there is a lot of wax that is wasted in the process.
The owner of our company is very frugal. This is not a bad characteristic. Yet, it proved to be a decision point and challenge of obedience for me. In order to save money and recycle the wax waste the owner proposed making a black candle. The candle jars we use are the tall cylinders that are used for church and prayer candles. We are a company that focuses primarily on the Hispanic market. So, to make a black candle in this cylinder was a gold statue moment for me.
Traditionally, in Hispanic culture, a black candle in this type of glass jar is not used for a fancy sit down dinner. Rather, it is used in occultist practices. The owner tried to convince me that this was not so. Yet, as the key person representing the company I had a choice to make. And, this choice could cost me my job. I prayed over this matter sincerely and came to a decision. I notified the owner that I could not control what he does with his company, but if he made the decision to produce these black candles I would have to quit.
This did not happen once, but several times. Each time the line was drawn and I was asked to compromise. And, each time I had to be willing to quit to stand my ground. And, I have stood my ground and the Lord has honored it. We have never produced a black candle to this day. And, now the entire family that owns the company supports this decision and knows that it is a decision that is both a good business decision and a reflection of our Christian faith.
When we are called to compromise our devotion it is really a matter of obedience. The call of obedience is a call to openly declare our true love. We do not obey because we are hoping for something in return. We obey because we love. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego obeyed because they loved the Lord their God. They were unwilling to bow the knee to an idol, even if it cost them their lives. They had full confidence and faith in the power of God to save them. Yet, their obedience was not based on this. They obeyed regardless of the outcome!
- “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.”
Obedience is never about us, it is always about Him. If Jesus is the center of our lives, if He is the Lord of our hearts, if we truly love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength – obedience is our only response!
- “The one who has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. And the one who loves me will be loved by my Father. I also will love him and will reveal myself to him.” John 14:21 CSB
The story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego has a happy ending. Thrown into a fire so hot that it killed the guards who threw them in, they walked freely, unfettered, and someone walked with them. It was Jesus, and He brought them through this fiery trial without even the hint of smoke upon their clothes. Yet, if they would have died, it wouldn’t be any less of a miraculous story. It would have been a story of faith working through love, manifested in sincere obedience. Hebrews records the annals of this type of faith, love, and obedience.
- “…Other people were tortured, not accepting release, so that they might gain a better resurrection. Others experienced mockings and scourgings, as well as bonds and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawed in two, they died by the sword, they wandered about in sheepskins, in goatskins, destitute, afflicted, and mistreated. The world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and on mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground. All these were approved through their faith, but they did not receive what was promised…”. Hebrews 11:35-39 CSB
Lord, this morning, search my heart and know me. I pray that my obedience to You flows only from my love for You. Forgive me for the times when my obedience has conditions or expectations. Let me love You freely and fully in all I do and say.
In Jesus Name!