In the third chapter of Daniel is the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego.
You know the story: Nebuchadnezzar, the king, built this 90 foot high monument, like the Washington Monument, and he sent out a decree that when the music played, everyone had to bow down and worship it. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego were ‘junior’ officials in the kingdom, Jews, and there were other officials who didn’t like them. They told the king that SMA didn’t bow down when they heard they music. The king was hot. He called them in and told them what he’d heard, and then he said, [When you hear the music], “if you do not worship, you shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you from my hands?” then (this is the best line in the whole story)
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.” NKJV
Let’s see, in modern terms, they said, “We don’t have to worry about what you say. Our God, Whom we serve, is ABLE to deliver us, and He WILL deliver us; BUT EVEN IF HE DOESN’T we still won’t bow down.” Hallelujah!
The question is: how are we going to act? We’ve had cases recently where Muslim gunmen presented people with that exact question, “Are you ready to deny your God? If so, we won’t kill you. If not, we will.” Then they went down the row, asking each person in turn. And PRAISE GOD, in the cases I’ve heard about, the people said, “I’m a Christian.” Or “I believe in Jesus;” even when the person just before them had already paid the price. I hope and pray we won’t all be put to that test; but if we are, at least we already know the right answer.
Sometimes though, the question is not so simple. Many times, it’s more subtle. The sacrifice is not so direct. Sometimes we see something that is totally against everything the Bible says; everything we know to be the truth of God; everything the Spirit is telling us in our hearts. Like immigration policies that allow sworn killers to come into our country unhindered. Like officials who bow to social pressure rather than uphold their oaths to defend the constitution. Like business owners, or entertainers, or sports figures, or politicians, who bow to attacks by Godless people rather than lose their careers or livelihoods. Praise God for those courageous brothers and sisters who stand up for Jesus, even in the face of such adversity.
As for me, I’m not going to invite persecution; and I honestly don’t know what I’d do if faced with the ultimate question, so I’m not going to judge anyone. I can only say that I’m heartened by the courage and devotion that I see among us, and I pray that God will uphold us with His strong right hand when the time comes.