by Wayne Barber
It's a sad fact, but a true fact that until Jesus comes or until we see Him through the door of death we will have to deal with the Nebuchadnezzars of life-the proud Nebuchadnezzars, as we have seen in our last three articles-those who want to be seen and heard and who want to be served! These people who are walking after the flesh only feel secure when everyone around them is bowing down to them!
The fact that we will have to deal with them shouldn't surprise us, as New Covenant believers, because we are told very clearly this is going to happen when we choose to walk obedient to the Truth. Paul said in 2 Timothy 3:12: "Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." He also taught us in 2 Corinthians that we can't handle it but Christ in us can: (2 Cor. 4:7-9). "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels" We are the "earthen vessels," the empty, hollow, frail vessels.
But Christ in us is the treasure and He needs to be seen! "so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves." Paul shows the weakness of the vessel and contrasts it with the strength of the treasure in verses 8 and 9: "we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed." It is the treasure in us that takes us through the difficult times caused by those who want to be served.
These proud self centered people cannot stand those who live humbly under the Lordship of Christ and do not bow to their wishes. Well, there are three young men who will not bow before the pagan golden statue that king Nebuchadnezzar had made in chapter 3 of the Book of Daniel. As a result, they will suffer the wrath of the king who was so self-centered and so insecure that he wanted to be worshiped. It's a painful thing to be under the wrath of a Nebuchadnezzar who has to be king or else! In Daniel 3:6, the penalty for anyone who would not bow was death: "But whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire."The jealous Chaldeans who were advisors to the king deceitfully twisted the reason these three young men would not obey, making them look as if they were rebels looking for a cause to disobey. This infuriated the king!
This is our subject for this article. We need to know as believers that we are insulated, not isolated when it comes to facing the ugly proud in this world.
When the three young men refused to bow to the statue that Nebuchadnezzar had built, he was outraged! "Then Nebuchadnezzar in rage and anger gave orders to bring Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego; then these men were brought before the king" (v. 3:3). To him it's unthinkable that anyone would not obey him by bowing down at his command.
In disbelief of such disobedience, he asks Daniel's three friends whom he has appointed over the Province of Babylon: "Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up?"He doesn't give them any time to answer as he thinks he can intimidate them into obeying him. So he says (v. 15): "Now if you are ready, at the moment you hear the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery and bagpipe and all kinds of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, very well. But if you do not worship, you will immediately be cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire; and what god is there who can deliver you out of my hands?"
"We will not bow" is the answer of God's young men: "Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego replied to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter" (v. 16). This was not in any way an arrogant reply! Both the king and they knew that a stalemate had occurred. Neither was going to budge. These three young men served God, and their God had clearly said in Deuteronomy 5:8-9: "You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, and on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me."
The king had put them into a terrible position but they would in no way ever defile themselves or their God.
Wayne Barber is senior pastor of Hoffmantown Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico.