Standing true to the faith

Friday 7 April 2017 | Published in Church Talk


Standing true to the faith
Daniel and his friends Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego made the choice to be faithful to God against the persecution of King Nebuchadnezzar. 17040615

In the Old Testament, the book of Daniel chapter three describes how Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was threescore cubits (90ft), and the breadth six cubits (9ft).

He set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon.

Then the princes, the governors, and captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counsellors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, were gathered together unto the dedication of the image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up; and they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had built.

“Then an herald cried aloud, ‘To you it is commanded, O people, nations, and languages, that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of music, ye shall fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up’.

He continued, “And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth not, shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.”

So at that time, when all the people heard the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and all kinds of music, all the people, the nations, and the languages, fell down and worshipped the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up.

But then it was reported to the king that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego hadn’t followed orders.

“These men, O king, have not regarded thee: they serve not thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.

“Then Nebuchadnezzar in his rage and fury commanded to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. Then they brought these men before the king.

“Nebuchadnezzar spake and said unto them, “Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, do not ye serve my gods, nor worship the golden image which I have set up?

“Now if ye be ready that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of music, ye fall down and worship the image which I have made; well: but if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?”

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, if it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, then he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.”

“But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.”

“Then was Nebuchadnezzar full of fury against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego: therefore he spake, and commanded his men that they should heat the furnace seven times more than it was to be heated.

“And he commanded the most mighty men in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace.

“And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.”

Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonished, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellors, “Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?” They answered and said unto the king, “True, O king.”

“He answered and said, “Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.”

“Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither. “Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, came forth out of the midst of the fire.

“And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king’s counsellors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them.

“Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God.”

“Because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort.”

Through God’s miraculous deliverance of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego that day, the rest of the Israelites in captivity were given freedom to worship and protection from harm by the king’s decree.

And Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego also received a royal promotion.

The fiery furnace was not just a small household oven. It was a huge chamber used to smelt minerals or bake bricks for construction. The deaths of the soldiers who had escorted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego proved that the heat of the fire was not survivable.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were young men when their faith was severely tested. Yet, even threatened with death, they would not compromise their beliefs.

Who was the fourth man Nebuchadnezzar saw in the flames? Whether he was an angel or a manifestation of Christ, we cannot be certain, but that his appearance was miraculous and supernatural; we have no doubt.

God had provided a heavenly bodyguard to be with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego during their intense time of need.

God’s miraculous intervention in a moment of crisis is not promised. If it were, believers would not need to exercise faith. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego trusted in God and were determined to be faithful and uphold their standards, without any guarantee of deliverance.

When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego courageously took their stand before Nebuchadnezzar, they didn’t know with certainty that God would deliver them. They had no assurance they would survive the flames. But they stood firm anyway.

In the face of severe challenge or even death, can we boldly declare as these three valiant young men did:

“Whether God rescues me or not, I will stand for him. I will not compromise my beliefs, I will not deny my Lord…I will be true to the faith.”

John Mateara

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints