Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” Daniel 3:16-18
The danger in reading stories like this that I feel very familiar with is that I can tend to gloss over it. Despite my best attempts to stay focused, sometimes I go into my speed-reading mode and kind of just skim the surface of the text. But regardless of whether I go deep or shallow in my reading, there are always a few things that jump out from Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s response to Nebuchadnezzar’s threat.
- The understood who their ultimate authority was – it is obvious from their response that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego knew that although they were employed in the service of Nebuchadnezzar, they answered to God and He was their ultimate authority. They would respect and submit to Nebuchadnezzar as an earthly authority but not at the expense of their allegiance and obedience to God.
- They didn’t fear the consequences – their fear of God was greater than their fear of any consequence of disobeying Nebuchadnezzar. There was no gray area here for the three. They knew what was right (in the eyes of God) and they were not swayed by the personal cost.
- They believed in God’s power and ability to rescue them – they acknowledged that regardless of their situation, God is powerful enough to do something about it and to rescue them if it is His will to do so.
- Their obedience wasn’t conditional on what God might do but rather on who He is – they acknowledged that even if God chose to not rescue them, they would still not serve Nebuchadnezzar’s gods or worship the image that he had erected. They didn’t obey God in expectation of Him rescuing them from the consequence. They didn’t worry about interpreting and understanding God’s will in the situation. They knew enough about God to respond in obedience to that which He had already revealed. They obeyed God in light of the fact that He is God and is worthy of all glory, honor and praise.