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?
I love the way this passage reads. It’s the underlying portion and source of Nebuchadnezzar’s frustration and anger that is at work in this passage. I chose to write on it because it is so similar to some of what we are seeing play out before us with the NFL, NFL players and NFL fans.
Nebuchadnezzar looks at these young men as ungrateful and disrespectful. See, these three young men, along with Daniel (who was renamed Belteshazzar by the Eunic) were chosen from the children of Israel, and were brought from their impoverished situation into the Kings palace. They were given the best of sleeping, dinning, eating, teaching and training. For this, the King sought to benefit, but also assumed that his provisions would guarantee loyalty and support. Through Daniels request, they not only entered into the leadership program, but they were placed over the affairs of the province of Babylon, while He sat in the gate.
Shortly after getting a promotion, these young men were faced with a decision. See, though living above the standard of those at home, though favored by the king, and living above the majority of those who were of similar decent of the King, these young men could not forget the God that placed them in their position and the commitment of not defiling themselves that put them in the position they stood in. Considering this, they remained true to the God of their fathers, and despite the Kings food, wine, accommodations and money, decided they would not bow and worship any false idol.
Nebuchadnezzar was shocked. How could it be possible that these young men would risk loosing their position, status, lifestyle and even their lives by being disobedient to the Kings ordinance? The handlers looked upon them with shock and disgust, for even they, whom were lower on the totem pole of power, had bowed their knee, and chosen to worship this false God, to protect their life and their livelihood. Most of the onlookers couldn’t understand why these guys would risk it all, for they too were a part of the chosen select that were living above the standard of the others, and many of them wanted to take the place of these chosen men.
Though their refusal to bow had nothing to do with them, they became angry for the King, and reported the men because they wanted them to follow along with the program dictated by the King as they had. Many of them had compromised themselves, and it wasn’t fair that they should compromise, and those working beside them, in positions that they coveted, were allowed to earn or serve in their position without complete compliance. They shook in fear because of the threats of the King. It was worse than loosing their position, it entailed loosing their life in the furnace.
Interestingly enough, it wasn’t their performance that the King was upset with. They, along with Daniel, were ruling well, helping the King run and manage his affairs in such a way that he continued to prosper. The King looked beyond their performance and ignored how he prospered with them in the positions in which they served, and chose to confront, convict and condemn anyone who wouldn’t bow, even if it cost him performance and profit in the provinces they oversaw.
He postures before the young men, shocked that they aren’t fearful of him, and not concerned with the possibilities of his power, and cowering to his threats. I can hear the frustration in his voice, as he feels the betrayal and defiance of people who he feels he has lifted from the ashes and introduced them into the life of luxury. Not only are they not being obedient, but they are now in danger of publicly dishonoring the king by not following his direct command, which would leave him no choice but to carry out his threat.
I know many of you reading are thinking, just bow! Eat the meat! Drink the wine! Worship the idol! If not, you will loose you position.
You would wouldn’t you?
You have, haven’t you?
Let me guess, you aren’t even bothered by the fact that the Eunuch gave them a new name. It was an honor that he renamed them right? It helped them fit in better. It sounded better right? It was supposed to help them assimilate quicker. Right?
It’s always shocking when someone has the courage to stand for what they believe in, or in this case, take a knee for what they believe is right. The young men knew that their position and power came from the Lord, who gave them the gifts and talents, made them without blemish, and positioned them to be found and selected. It was the interpretation of the dream that placed them in a position to earn. It was their commitment not to eat or drink the kings meat that gave great knowledge and skill, and Daniels the gift to interpret said dreams, not the King. Had they not had gifts, the king would have had no use for them, and would not have extended the opportunity for them to prosper together.
The king was not doing them a favor. The king was not a humanitarian!
He was a wealthy person with a problem. He was a person trying to build his kingdom and solidify his position and power. He was not dividing up and sharing his wealth, he was utilizing the gifts of these young men to prosper. And for those keeping score, so are the NFL Owners. The players are profitable for the owners, thus they are invited to take part in prosperity and luxury, but most are captured in the meat and wine, and as partakers, are loyal to those who will release them at a moments notice without out even a face to face visit.
Honestly, our faith would be better if more of our leaders were like these young men. Many of our leaders have found themselves with full bellies and cheerful spirits from the flowing wine, and have chosen to bow and worship.