Fireside Chat with Nebuchadnezzar

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to worship the golden idol that King Nebuchadnezzar set up. (Try coming up with a sentence with four crazier names.) The consequence of this was that they were to be thrown into a furnace, one that was burning so hot it killed the men who were to carry out this deed. But on the way to their almost-certain death, these three men talk to Nebuchadnezzar as he presses them to worship false gods.

King 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 deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. 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. (Daniel 3, NIV)

It is amazing to me that these three have such confidence before a furious king. And their confidence is not in their comfort or safety. Whether they live, because God delivers them, or they die they still have confidence that God is the one God, and nothing else is deserving of worship. They do not worship God because he blesses them, they worship him because he is God. He deserves it. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego won’t dishonor God in such a way, and they want the king to be aware of their devotion. They serve God and they do so even if he won’t deliver them.

That is a difficult prayer for us to make as we always want God to see things our way and help us out in a bind. But we need to seek to honor him no matter how situations turn out for us. We need to finish our prayer with our own version of “even if he does not”, and a good one is taken from Jesus who prayed just before his great suffering, “not my will but yours be done.”

 

Whose Orders Do We Follow?

There is a soldier under the command of David who has gone out seeking to fight back against the opposing forces under Absalom. As he leaves he hears David mention that Absalom is to be protected. So when this soldier finds Absalom trapped and vulnerable to attack, he passes over him. When he gets back to his superior, Joab, and has an exchange that goes like this:

2 Samuel 18

And Absalom happened to meet the servants of David. Absalom was riding on his mule, and the mule went under the thick branches of a great oak, and his head caught fast in the oak, and he was suspended between heaven and earth, while the mule that was under him went on. 10 And a certain man saw it and told Joab, “Behold, I saw Absalom hanging in an oak.” 11 Joab said to the man who told him, “What, you saw him! Why then did you not strike him there to the ground? I would have been glad to give you ten pieces of silver and a belt.” 12 But the man said to Joab, “Even if I felt in my hand the weight of a thousand pieces of silver, I would not reach out my hand against the king’s son, for in our hearing the king commanded you and Abishai and Ittai, ‘For my sake protect the young man Absalom.’ 13 On the other hand, if I had dealt treacherously against his life (and there is nothing hidden from the king), then you yourself would have stood aloof.”

This soldier stands between two commands from two commanders. Even though he must have felt pressure to kill the enemy of David, he was more compelled to be obedient to him. He stands up to Joab, disregards his offers of money, and even draws to his attention the fact that David gave his command to protect Absalom in the presence of Joab.

At times we may stand between two opposing commands, but we should follow the lead of this unnamed man. Even in his dangerous position, he heeds the higher calling. We should recognize that the orders of our higher commander, of our Lord, should be what we obey over and sometimes against all other authorities.