The story of the three Hebrew children in Daniel 3 keeps coming up for me recently, and interestingly, on three separate occasions from three separate people who do not know each other. Maybe coincidence, but I want to pay attention when I think the Lord might be trying to teach something.
In basic terms, king Nebuchadnezzar, in the time of the Babylonian captivity, made a golden image and demanded that everyone should bow to this image. This was in the time of Daniel, who had found favor in the eyes of Nebuchadnezzar along with three young people, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego who served the king with Daniel.
When the king made the request to bow to this golden image, the three Hebrew children refused to bow. The king ordered that they should be thrown into a fiery furnace. Inside of the furnace, the three were seen standing amidst the flames unharmed with a fourth figure standing with them who was as “the son of God.” The flames did not harm them, they were released, and they were allowed to worship God without interference.
There’s probably a lot that could be said about this story that I’m not getting, but some things do come to mind. In the last days, we are told to expect a false prophet who is often compared to the king of Babylon, and his church is the Great Whore of Mystery Babylon. Of course, we do not want to bow to him and his “image of the beast.” That’s the most obvious thing I can think of, but what about today? What are we bowing to in our lives that acts as a kind of precursor to bowing to the “image of the beast?”
We may or may not be on this earth when that last deception comes, but we are told to live as if we will be. If we are already bowing to the culture of this world, then what makes us think we won’t bow when we are faced with something powerful, more tempting, and frightening?
If it were not for the mercy of the Lord, all would bow. He will keep us who love Him during all troubling times, and this promise is not limited to the last days. All of us, no matter what time we live in are facing some kind of temptation to bow to an ungodly influence. All of us, no matter what time we live in or how far along we’ve come in the faith experience times when our faith is pushed and tested. All of us need the grace of God to protect us from the fiery trials of this life.
If we have a desire to only bow to Jesus and we fear and trust in Him, then there is nothing that can harm us. That does not mean we will not suffer, but we can have peace despite suffering and regardless of what we suffer we will not be destroyed. Our flesh might die, but as with the three Hebrew Children the Lord will stand with us and keep us.
Another thought. When the Lord returns, there are scriptures about the enemies of God being destroyed by fire and by the brightness of His coming. I’m still ruminating on this. Some thoughts here. This fire is not the fire of the adversary, but of the Lord. This fire will consume all evil, but if we stand with the Lord just as those three Hebrews stood with the Lord, then we will not be consumed by that fire either.
Like I wrote, there is most likely a lot that can be taken away from the story of the three Hebrew children, but one thing is for certain. If we do not bow to wicked culture, but instead bow to Jesus alone, He will protect us. I also think of this scripture from Isaiah Chapter 8:
For the LORD spake thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me that I should not walk in the way of this people, saying,
Say ye not, A confederacy, to all them to whom this people shall say, A confederacy; neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid.
Sanctify the LORD of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.
And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
And many among them shall stumble, and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken (Isaiah 8:11-15).
In what ways am I bowing to the culture? In what ways am I making compromises that I should not make? This idea keeps coming up, and I think there is a reason for it. As Christians, regardless of how strong we think we stand with Christ, we can be made stronger. We can always grow. We can always put aside something of this world we are bowing to. We can always do better about putting Jesus first.
If we are faithful, then when the greatest time of trouble comes we can be like those Hebrew children. Isaiah 8 also mentions children of the Lord who will be for “signs and wonders in Israel.” Now, I don’t mean “signs and wonders” like the false prophets show, but of a godly sort that show the ungodly that our God is True and faithful to those who belong to Him.
We can be a sign to this generation now. We can be a sign of what it means to be a Christian who does not bow to the culture of this fallen world or corrupt Christianity, who is given strength from the Lord to overcome temptation, to walk more righteously, to have peace when the world is given over to fear, and to love in a world of hate. That is a sign and a wonder, and we can be that in the Lord.
You might ask, what if I bow to this culture? What now? Struggling with a sin that you hate is not the same as bowing to sin or to a sinful culture. This is more like that women in Luke 13 who was bent over and could not stand up because of her infirmary. The weight of sin is heavy, and it can make us feel as if we have no choice but to bow to it. Jesus said to this woman, “thou art loosed from thine infirmity.” If we keep seeking Jesus, He will make a way of deliverance for us. We might have to suffer our sin for a time and feel the full weight of it crushing us, but deliverance will come. Believe that!