Topic: The Men Who Would Not Bow! (Self Assessment 158)
Background: Last week we studied how King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold; sixty cubits high and six cubits wide, and set it up in the plain of Dura with a command that all officials bow to it at the sound of music.
We also learnt of the report of some astrologers about three Jewish men whom Nebuchadnezzar had set over the affairs of the province of Babylon —Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. According to the astrologers, these men neither served Nebuchadnezzar’s gods nor worshipped the image of gold he had set up.
Now, since it was already decreed that whoever does not fall down and worship the image will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace, the fate of these Jews was already predictable when proven guilty.
Let us continue with our studies and ascertain whether or not Nebuchadnezzar will pardon them for their religious beliefs or have them face the rigours of the law for being this defiant.
Text: Daniel 3: 13-21
13 Furious with rage, Nebuchadnezzar summoned Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. So these men were brought before the king, 14 and Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up?
15 Now when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?”
16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand.
18 But even if He does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”
19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was furious with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and his attitude toward them changed. He ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual 20 and commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace.
21 So these men, wearing their robes, trousers, turbans and other clothes, were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace. Amen
i) Although filled with rage and with the legitimate power to punish any kind of insubordination in his kingdom, Nebuchadnezzar still chose to rather ascertain the truth about the defiance of the three Jews himself and not to dwell on hear say? Why do you think this will always be a prudent thing to do (especially for those of us in leadership)?
ii) In his interrogation, however, the king rather encouraged the three men to comply by re-enacting the entire command and reminded them of the punishment for non-compliance (vrs 15). He never really asked them why they chose to be defiant. Why do you think this was so?
iii) What did Nebuchadnezzar want to imply when he said to the three men in verse 15(b) that “if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god WILL BE ABLE TO RESCUE YOU FROM MY HANDS”?
iv) Read verse 16- 17 again:
a) Why did the three men say to the most powerful king on earth at that time that, “we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter”? Were they not being rude?
b) They also said, “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand.” Is that not a direct contradiction to Nebuchadnezzar’s claim that no god can rescue them from his hands? Were they daring the king or confessing what they knew as TRUTH?
v) Why do you think they went on to say to the king that, “even if He does not (rescue us), we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up”?
a) Is this an insult to Nebuchadnezzar, or again, an expression of personal conviction?
b) Was the faith of the three Jews a little shaky when they made the above declaration? If their God had the power to rescue them, why will He in any instance choose not to?
vi) How will you explain verse 19-20? Was the king being lenient with them till now or he never really expected this level of defiance till now?
vii) Why were they bound before being thrown into the furnace?
viii) What have you learnt from today’s discussion? How has the attitude of the three men inspired in you a desire to hold on to your faith even to the point of death?
Next week, we will continue with a quest to uncover what happened to these men who wouldn’t bow. Especially now that they are thrown into fire. Will their God rescue them as they said He could or they had been foolish daring Nebuchadnezzar this far? Make a date!
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