They could burn—but they could not turn!
(J. R. Miller, "The Fiery Furnace")
"As soon as you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and all kinds of music—you must fall down and worship the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up! Whoever does not fall down and worship—will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace!" Daniel 3:5-6
Every child knows this story. It is one of the classics of Christian households. We will never have to meet precisely the same trial of faith, that these three Hebrew children had to meet; but we need just as heroic a spirit—in order to be faithful.
Imposing images are set up even now in many a place—and all are expected to bow down to them—and woe to him who does not kneel!
We all have opportunity enough to be heroic. The popular religion of today, is inclined to limpness of the knees. We have grown wonderfully tolerant in these modern days! We bow to almost anything—if it happens to be fashionable.
"Therefore, as soon as they heard the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp and all kinds of music—all the peoples, nations and men of every language fell down and worshiped the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up!"
But there were some whose knees did not bend!
"Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king: O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and He will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if He does not, we want you to know, O king—that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up!" Daniel 3:16-18
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were all young men who were in peculiar circumstances. They were away from home, out from under parental influence and restraints, and exposed to very strong temptation. They had now their choice between duty—and the fiery furnace! We should study this lesson for its example of heroic devotion to duty, regardless of consequences. Even yet, the world's promotion is obtainable ofttimes—only at the price of a trampled conscience!
There are several things to note in these young men.
Note their calmness; they displayed no excitement, no heat of passion. The peace of God ruled in their hearts.
Note also, their sublime courage. They had a contempt of death. They feared only one thing—sin!
Note also, their trust in God. They committed the matter utterly into His hands. They did not know what He would do—but they were sure it would be the right thing.
The king wanted to give them another chance, as he preferred not to burn such useful servants; but they told him there was no need for a second opportunity. They would have no other answer to give. They could make no possible change in their decision. The thing that was demanded of them was contrary to the plain law of their God—and that settled it forever. There was no room for discussion or for deliberation or for persuasion—when it was the law of God that was concerned. They could burn—but they could not turn!
It would save many people a great deal of weighing, balancing, and discussing of fine points—if they would act always on this principle—that the Word of God is final in all matters of duty. When a thing is forbidden in the Word—that should be the end of it.
But too many people parley with such matters—and usually end in yielding to sin. It is never safe to parley with temptation!
It would be well if all our modern Christians had the sublime moral courage of these three Hebrew children.