One day this king, Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, comes up with this great idea that he would build a ninety-foot image of himself – a statue. Then he would mandate that everybody in the land would bow down and as a sign of loyalty they would worship that image.
So Nebuchadnezzar gives the mandate throughout the kingdom. But by the way, the second part of the mandate was anybody who refused would be immediately executed. So there comes this historic day of dedication and celebration of this great statue. The mandate has gone out, the image is unveiled and king Nebuchadnezzar has instructed that when the band begins to play everyone is to fall to their knees. On this day, the band is gathered, the notes begin to sound and everyone as far as you can see falls on their knees and begins to worship.
Except three. Three young Jewish men. Three young men who had been captured from Jerusalem when it had been taken by Babylon. They’re now in training to become leaders in their new country. They’re on the fast track in their career. Really they were set for life. Humanly speaking they had absolutely nothing to gain by defying the king but they had everything to lose. So they refuse to bow down. They were ratted out, sold out by someone who is on the king’s payroll.
Nebuchadnezzar is absolutely furious. He has these three men brought to him. It seems as though he actually likes these guys. Because they entertain a dialogue and it goes something like this: Nebuchadnezzar says, “Boys, you’re not from these parts. Maybe you didn’t understand the edict. I built this ninety-foot image. It’s a replica of me. The deal is that when the band plays you get on your knees and worship. Now you probably didn’t understand that the first time so I’m giving you a second chance. We’re going to strike up the band here in just a moment. If you guys will fall down on your knees and worship everything’s ok.”
If I had been those boys at this point I probably would have thought, “Ok. Enough’s enough. This isn’t funny anymore. We’ve lodged our protest. The king seems real serious about this. So why not just go along to get along. After all just because we bow the knee we can worship the true God in our hearts.” But that’s not what happens in the story. In fact, these three young men just simply say, No.
I don’t know about you but I get excited when I read about people who live by their convictions. Those that are willing to stand and say, No. We won’t just go along to get along. I’m drawn to people who have that kind of courage and conviction. I don’t always have that. Tere have been days when I look back on my day and the decisions I made and I realize that I really didn’t live by what I said I believed. My courage and convictions weren’t as strong as I thought it was.
Let me wrap up the story. The king is so enraged at these three guys he has them bound up. So out of control is the king’s anger that he says to the guys, “Heat up the furnace seven times hotter than usual.” Then he has these three young men thrown in the fire.
The king, because he wants to make sure, he wants to revel in his victory that day over these three defiant young Jewish men, he watches the fire. But he’s confused when he looks in the fire because it can’t be what he thinks he sees. The Bible says he leaps up from his chair and he gets as close to the fire as he can and he looks in. And not only are the three men still there not burned up, walking around unharmed, the Bible says. But there was a fourth person in the fire. Nebuchadnezzar describes him that He was like as an Angel of God. Most Bible scholars think that that was a pre incarnate appearance of Jesus Christ.
Here’s the thing I want you to get. When you choose to do what’s right and live by your convictions I can’t promise you what’s going to happen. I can’t promise you a fairy tale ending or that everything is going to turn out exactly like you’d hoped. What I do feel confident in promising you is that Jesus will walk with you through whatever you go through. And that’s enough. If you have that it is enough.