Daniel 3 Devotional
Much of the first half of Daniel portrays a conflict between Babylon’s kings and Israel’s God. We saw in chapter 1 how Daniel and his friends stayed faithful to God despite pressures from the state government to assimilate. We saw in chapter 2 how God interpreted Nebuchadnezzar’s dream when no Babylonian official could, thus leading to Nebuchadnezzar’s confession in verse 47. Now in chapter 3 there is a conflict between competing objects of worship.
This is probably one of the more well-known stories in Daniel. Nebuchadnezzar builds a giant golden statue and expects everyone to bow down to it when he says so. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who had risen to some prominent position in the country, refuse to bow down, and Nebuchadnezzar throws them into a huge fiery furnace as a death sentence. God, however, miraculously keeps them from burning alive, which leads Nebuchadnezzar once again to confess how great God is.
God rescues his people. This is one of the central messages of this chapter. When Nebuchadnezzar said, “Who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?” then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied, “Our God is able to deliver us!” And at the end of the chapter, Nebuchadnezzar confesses, “There is no other god who is able to rescue in this way.” Our God is the only God who is strong enough to save his people. His ability to save sets him apart from all other gods (Isaiah 43:11; Isaiah 45:21; Zephaniah 3:17). Of course, we know it’s not just saving from earthly troubles, but ultimately he saves us from eternal punishment by what Christ did for us on the cross. By this great power, he proves himself to be the true God.
And this great deliverance demands that God be worshiped. You may have a footnote in your Bible indicating that Daniel 4:1–3 was originally part of the end of chapter 3. If so, what a fitting end to a miraculous salvation. King Nebuchadnezzar puts out a decree to all nations that God is the Most High and that he alone brings peace! If our God really is strong enough to do what he says he can do, we have no choice but to surrender our allegiance to him. His kingdom is the only everlasting kingdom, and his dominion is the only true dominion! It would be foolish even to speak a word against him, knowing what he is capable of and how quickly he comes to the aid of his people.
One part of surrendering our allegiance to this God is being willing to “[yield] up [our] bodies rather than serve and worship any god except [our] own God”
(v. 28). Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were willing to be burned alive rather than worship another god and forsake the true God. It’s an emboldening reminder for us not to worship what the world worships and to expect retribution when we don’t. It may seem like a particularly brave act on the part of these men to face a fiery furnace courageously, but this ought to be the mindset for every Christian. “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). We may face the consequences of not worshiping what the world worships. Even Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego recognized they might die on that day (see verse 18). The point is not that God will save us from every earthy harm, but “that I am not my own, but belong—body and soul, in life and in death—to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ” (Heidelberg Catechism). Sacrificing our earthly life for the sake of remaining faithful to God is a worthy sacrifice.