One of the popular ideas we hear nowadays is about ‘leaving a legacy’. Whether it’s the legacy after a spectacular event such as the Olympics, or the legacy of an outgoing government or a politician, it’s something that significant people expend much time and effort on. Leaving their legacy, making their mark upon history. Sometimes very positively, sometimes not so.
Let’s read Chapter 3 of Daniel and meet King Nebuchadnezzar once more, a very significant leader in the ancient near east. He too wanted to make his mark.
Neb was reminded that human kingdoms come and go, and as such Neb suddenly becomes very concerned about the strength and unity of his kingdom. He didn’t want his kingdom to fall and be crushed.
Neb planned to cement his kingdom together by forcing all people to bow down before the image he’d built. If they did not, there would be fatal consequences. But surely, no one would put themselves in that position, would they?
The big point here is that this King is encouraging the worship of something other than God – creator of the earth and everything in it. And the challenge to us is to be more aware of the things that we choose to worship instead of worshipping God. So, here’s a question to think over: what are our idols?
In the New Testament idolatry is not just a failure to obey God by turning to the worship of a created object or man-made god – it is anything that causes us to set our hearts on something besides God. Idolatry is anything that causes us to think less about God. The most common idols, certainly in Western society are pride, money, popularity, body image, hobbies, and the like. But even if we know this, it can be difficult to recognise the idols in our own lives that keep us from worshipping God with all our hearts. As with many negative things – it’s just so much easier to recognize them in other people!
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had refused to bow down before this golden image. To bow down to it would be to break the commandments God had given Israel to live by –commands that explicitly stated:
Their mind was made up, they would obey their God. Put yourself in their position for a moment. You know the consequences are clear. Wouldn’t it be easier to just follow the crowd on this occasion? Is this really worth risking your life for?
For these three, the issue was not what was best for their safety or prosperity. Their concern was not for their comfort or convenience. Their concern was doing what was obedient to God. They had a faith that was prepared to face the furnace. Does yours?