For the three Hebrews, the image worship imposed by the king is a blatant counterfeit of the temple worship in Jerusalem, which they experienced in their earlier years. Although they hold offices in the empire and are loyal to the king, their allegiance to God sets a limit on their human loyalty. They are certainly willing to continue to serve the king as faithful administrators; however, they cannot join the ceremony.
Read Exodus 20:3-6 and Deuteronomy 6:4. What do these texts convey that surely influenced the stand these men took?
Following the instructions issued by the king, all the people at the sound of the musical instruments bow and worship the golden image. Only the three — Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego — dare to disobey the king. Immediately, some Babylonians bring the matter to the king’s attention. The accusers seek to enrage the king by saying: (1) it was the king himself who put these three young men over the province of Babylon; (2) the Jewish men do not serve the gods of the king; and (3) they do not worship the gold image that the king had set up (Dan. 3:12). But in spite of his fury against them, the king offers the three men a second chance. The king is willing to repeat the whole procedure so that these men can retract their position and worship the image. Should they refuse, they will be thrown into the fiery furnace. And Nebuchadnezzar closes his appeal with a most arrogant claim: “And who is the god who will deliver you from my hands?” (Dan. 3:15, NKJV).
Endowed with supernatural courage, they respond to the king: “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” (Dan. 3:17, 18, NKJV).
Though they know their God can deliver them, they do not have the guarantee that He will. Nevertheless, they refuse to obey the king’s command, even knowing that they could be burned alive. Where do we get that kind of faith?