Time to Take a Stand
October 2, 2020
There comes a time when you have to face your fears and take a stand for what is right. That is what Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego did. They risked their lives when they refused to bow down to a ninety foot idol.
I’ve got to be honest. I would have been tempted to rationalize compromise in those circumstances. I’ll bow on the outside but not on the inside. I’ll cross my fingers while I’m bowing so it doesn’t really count. I’ll just pretend the idol is Jehovah. They could have compromised, but lion chasers don’t back down. And their acts of courage set the stage for epic miracles.
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 never serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”
I can think of a thousand ways I’d rather die than by fiery furnace! If I had to choose between a lion eating me or a fire burning me, I’m not sure which one I’d choose. But Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego took a stand. And that is what courage is all about.
Courage is doing what is right regardless of circumstances or consequences.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to defend themselves, and Nebuchadnezzar was so ticked off that he heated the furnace seven times hotter and had them thrown in. It was so hot that the soldiers who threw them into the furnace died. But not a single hair on the head of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego was singed.
King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?” They replied, “Certainly, O king.” He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”
When you put yourself into defenseless positions, it sets the stage for God to show up. And that is exactly what happens. Not only do Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego come out of the fiery furnace alive, they don’t even smell like smoke!
What if Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had bowed down to the idol?
I’m not sure I can accurately answer that question, but I do know this. They wouldn’t have gotten promotions. The Jewish people would not have gotten protected status within the Babylonian kingdom. Idol worship would have continued unabated in Babylon. And Nebuchadnezzar wouldn’t have had a life-changing God encounter.
Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way.”
One act of courage by three twenty-somethings changed a king and a kingdom.
Maybe it’s time to face your fear and take a stand.
Mark Batterson serves as lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington, DC. NCC also owns and operates Ebenezers Coffeehouse, The Miracle Theatre, and the DC Dream Center. Mark holds a doctor of ministry degree from Regent University and is the New York Times bestselling author of 17 books, including The Circle Maker, Chase the Lion, and Whisper. Mark and his wife, Lora, have three children and live on Capitol Hill.
Mark’s book, In a Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day, helps readers look back longingly on risks not taken, opportunities not seized, and dreams not pursued. Stop running away from what scares you most and start chasing the God-ordained opportunities that cross your path. In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day is inspired by one of the most obscure yet courageous acts recorded in Scripture, a blessed and audacious act that left no regrets: “Benaiah chased a lion down into a pit. Then, despite the snow and slippery ground, he caught the lion and killed it” (2 Samuel 23:20 -21)