Dare To Be Different Part II

As time went on, Nebuchadnezzar began to forget his awe at Daniel’s God, and instead dwelt on the fact that he was that “head of Gold,” representing the greatest gentile kingdom portrayed in his dream which Daniel had interpreted. Chapter three of Daniel describes how his heart was lifted up in pride and what he did as a result:

  • He built a huge gold image (of himself no doubt) that was 90 feet high and nine feet wide and set it up in the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon.
  • He convened all of the important people in his whole empire for the dedication of the image.
  • A herald announced that each time in the ceremony that all the musicians began to play, everyone was to fall down and worship the image. Anyone who refused would be cast into a fiery furnace.
  • Daniel and his friends had a problem. If they fell down and worshipped the image, they would disobey God. If they didn’t, they would be cast into the fiery furnace. Would they dare to be different?
  • Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego were with their fellow officials of the province of Babylon in the huge crowd. Daniel was apparently in another part of the crowd with the rest of the King’s courtiers.
  • When the music began to play, everyone but our four young men fell down to worship. Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego were observed by their fellow officials who reported to the King that they had refused to obey the edict. Though not mentioned, Daniel, in a different place, apparently was not observed nor reported.
  • Nebuchadnezzar was furious, demanded to know if the three young men had indeed refused to worship the image. Without waiting for an answer, apparently because of his high regard for them, he offered them another chance to obey. If they obeyed, good. If not, they would be cast into the fiery furnace, stating, “Who is the god who will deliver you from my hands?”
  • “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.’” Daniel 3:16-18.

Incredible! Did they ever dare to be different! What a testimony. The king immediately set his threat in motion:

  • The furnace was heated to seven times normal.
  • They were bound by his mightiest soldiers, and were thrown into the furnace, the extreme heat of which killed the executioners.
  • As he watched, King Nebuchadnezzar exclaimed, “Look! I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God. Then Nebuchadnezzar went near the mouth of the burning fiery furnace and spoke, saying, ‘Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here.’ Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego came from the midst of the fire. And the satraps, administrators, governors, and the king’s counselors gathered together, and they saw these men on whose bodies the fire had no power; the hair of their head was not singed nor were their garments affected, and the smell of fire was not on them. Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying, ‘Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, who sent His Angel and delivered His servants who trusted in Him, and they have frustrated the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they should not serve nor worship any god except their own God! Therefore I make a decree that any people, nation, or language which speaks anything amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made an ash heap; because there is no other God who can deliver like this.’ Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego in the province of Babylon.” Daniel 3:26-30.
  • The three young men dared to be different at the risk of their lives, but God miraculously protected them and God was exalted throughout the empire!

During the reign of Belshazzar, the last king of Babylon, the Medes and Persians conquered the empire and Darius became king. Let us read Daniel 6:1-3 to see what happened. “It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom one hundred and twenty satraps, to be over the whole kingdom; and over these, three governors, of whom Daniel was one, that the satraps might give account to them, so that the king would suffer no loss. Then this Daniel distinguished himself above the governors and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king gave thought to setting him over the whole realm.” This infuriated the jealous governors and satraps and they decided to make a preemptive strike against Daniel:

  • They sought for some fault in Daniel’s performance of his duties, but could find nothing.
  • They decided they would have to attack him in the area of his faith in God.
  • They proposed to Darius that he “make a firm decree, that whoever petitions any god or man for thirty days, except you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions. Now, O king, establish the decree and sign the writing, so that it cannot be changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which does not alter. Therefore King Darius signed the written decree,” Daniel 6: 7b-9.
  • We find Daniel’s reaction in Daniel 6:10, “ Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days.” He again dared to be different in the face of death.
  • His enemies, expecting this, witnessed this defiance of the King’s decree, and reported it to him.
  • King Darius was greatly displeased with himself, and tried to find a loophole to save Daniel, but couldn’t. He reluctantly had Daniel put in the lion’s den, saying to him, “Your God, whom you serve continually, He will deliver you.” Darius then fasted and spent a sleepless night.
  • He rose early in the morning and went to the den. Daniel 6:20-22 tells what happened. “And when he came to the den, he cried out with a lamenting voice to Daniel. The king spoke, saying to Daniel, ‘Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?’ Then Daniel said to the king, ‘O king, live forever! My God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths, so that they have not hurt me, because I was found innocent before Him; and also, O king, I have done no wrong before you.’”
  • The king was delighted and had Daniel removed from the den. Daniel’s accusers and their whole families were thrown into the den instead, where they were torn in pieces by the lions.
  • Daniel 6:25-28, “Then King Darius wrote: ‘To all peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth: Peace be multiplied to you. I make a decree that in every dominion of my kingdom men must tremble and fear before the God of Daniel. For He is the living God, and steadfast forever; His kingdom is the one which shall not be destroyed, and His dominion shall endure to the end. He delivers and rescues, and He works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth, Who has delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.’ So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian.”

Daniel and his three friends dared to be different at the risk of their lives. God was faithful and delivered them, in the process of which God was greatly glorified throughout the empires in which they served. They were not only delivered from death, but were promoted to positions of great honor and power where they did great good for the empires they served.

To be continued…