Per Fidem Intrepidus means "Fearless Through Faith". My courage isn't my own, it comes from the Holy Spirit, it's my faith in God and my personal savior Christ Jesus that calms my fears and allows me to move forward in this fallen world. Personally I'm afraid of a lot of stuff, but having the faith that Jesus adopted me as his little, sin filled, brother keeps me going.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

OT Tuesday: Bow or Burn

Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, the height of which was sixty cubits (ninety feet) and its width six cubits (nine feet); he set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. (Daniel 3:1)
No one is really sure why Nebuchadnezzar created the image of gold, some say it is a representation of the statue he saw in his dream and that building the statue in 100% gold was an act of defiance, proclaiming his own power. Remember that the dream was interpreted that the gold head of the statue was the Babylonian empire, and that the parts of the statue made of silver, brass, iron, and clay were other empires. By creating the entire statue in gold Nebuchadnezzar was proclaiming that his empire would last forever. 

In addition Nebuchadnezzar then proclaimed that when the people heard all kinds of music played by horn, flute, lyre (a harp), trigon (triangular bell), psaltery (ancient autoharp/banjo kind of thing), and bagpipe they were to stop, drop, and worship the statue. But...
But whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire.” (Daniel 3:6)
And when the king says bow down and worship, you bow down and worship. That is unless you worship the true God whose very first commandment is "You shall have no other gods before me" which poses a problem for the Jews that Babylon had in bondage. They could bow, or they could burn. Some chose to burn.

The bible says that certain Chaldeans came forward and ratted out Daniel's partners Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego for not worshiping the statue when the music began to play. First of all - who the heck are these Chaldeans we keep hearing about, especially here in Daniel.

The Chaldeans were an ethnic group that lived in Southern Babylon. They were an intelligent, aggressive people. The first mention we hear of them is in Genesis 11:28 which speaks of Abraham’s father Terah, who was from “Ur of the Chaldeans,” and in Genesis 15:7 God calls Abraham a Chaldean so Chaldeans were ancient relatives of the Jews. Chaldeans eventually rose to power in Babylon and by 731 BC Ukinzer, a Chaldean, was crowned king of Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar himself was an ethnic Chaldean. By this time in the Babylonian Empire, the Chaldeans were an influential and highly educated group of people and the term Chaldean was used to refer to a social class of highly educated wise men rather than an ethnic group or race. So when you see "Chaldean" in the bible chances are good that the scripture is implying "wise man" and quite often "royal adviser".

Their accusations were true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego refused to worship the statue when the music began to play. At this point it's been 15 years since Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego were appointed to their positions by Nebuchadnezzar, but years of excellent service mean nothing when a direct order from the king is ignored. Nebuchadnezzar was in a rage that someone dare disobey him, He demanded their presence before him and when they arrived he immediately asked them if it was true they disobeyed his order to worship the statue, reminding them of the furnace. 
16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego replied to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter. 17 If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. 18 But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” (Daniel 3:16-18)
Their response was probably the first time Nebuchadnezzar ever heard such defiance and probably set the standard for chutzpah for the rest of the history of the Jewish people. Nebuchadnezzar also decided that it would be the last time he ever heard such defiance. In a blind rage Nebuchadnezzar told his people to stoke up the furnace to seven times its normal temperature and that Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego be tied up and thrown into the furnace. The furnace was stoked so hot that when the men who dragged Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego opened the furnace door to toss them inside, the fire blasted out and killed the men who threw the bound prisoners inside the furnace. But Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego were tossed in and the door was closed behind them.

Then something happened. Nebuchadnezzar looked in the furnace and saw something that shocked him. He demanded of his advisers 'we threw three guys in the fire, right?' and they said 'You betcha O King' to which Nebuchadnezzar replied
25 He said, “Look! I see four men loosed and walking about in the midst of the fire without harm, and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods!” 26 Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the door of the furnace of blazing fire; he responded and said, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, come out, you servants of the Most High God, and come here!” Then Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego came out of the midst of the fire.(Daniel 3:25-26)
Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego stepped out of the furnace and the satraps, the prefects, the governors and the king’s high officials gathered around and inspected Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego and found that they were not harmed in any way, their clothing was unburned, not a hair on their head was singed, they didn't even smell like smoke. Realizing what he just witnessed the King made a decree
28 Nebuchadnezzar responded and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, who has sent His angel and delivered His servants who put their trust in Him, violating the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies so as not to serve or worship any god except their own God. 29 Therefore I make a decree that any people, nation or tongue that speaks anything offensive against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego shall be torn limb from limb and their houses reduced to a rubbish heap, inasmuch as there is no other god who is able to deliver in this way.” (Daniel 3:28-29)
The God of Israel, the one and only true God now has protection by Nebuchadnezzar. Well, it's a start. Nebuchadnezzar now recognizes the power of God and realizes that God's devout followers are not going to compromise their principals. Though this decree had some benefit in protecting the Hebrews it dod not reflect the heart and mind of God Himself, God does not force men to serve Him nor does He honor forced obedience. But in the end the faith of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego was vindicated, Nebuchadnezzar learned of the power of God, and God was glorified by the faithfulness of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego who valued and loved God more than life itself.

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