Daniel 3:1-30; 1 Peter 5:1-14; Psalms 119:73-80; Proverbs 26:1-2
OT: “King Nebuchadnezzar made a gold statue, ninety feet high and nine feet wide. He set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon… A herald loudly proclaimed, “People of every nation and language, you are commanded: When you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, drum, and every kind of music, you are to fall facedown and worship the gold statue that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. But whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a furnace of blazing fire.” …Some Chaldeans took this occasion to come forward and maliciously accuse the Jews… “There are some Jews you have appointed to manage the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These men have ignored you, the king; they do not serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.” Then in a furious rage Nebuchadnezzar gave orders to bring in Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. So these men were brought before the king. Nebuchadnezzar asked them, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, is it true that you don’t serve my gods or worship the gold statue I have set up? Now if you’re ready, when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, drum, and every kind of music, fall down and worship the statue I made. But if you don’t worship it, you will immediately be thrown into a furnace of blazing fire — and who is the god who can rescue you from my power?” Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied to the king, “Nebuchadnezzar, we don’t need to give you an answer to this question. If the God we serve exists, then he can rescue us from the furnace of blazing fire, and he can rescue us from the power of you, the king. But even if he does not rescue us, we want you as king to know that we will not serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up.”” (Daniel 3:1, 4-6, 8, 12-18 CSB)
In Daniel chapter 2 is the story of Daniel knowing and interpreting King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. In the dream, Nebuchadnezzar saw a large statue with a golden head. After Daniel interpreted his dream, he knew that the golden head stood for him. There is a good chance that King Nebuchadnezzar took that image and ran with it – making a gold statue of himself for everyone to worship. Some of the Chaldeans were apparently jealous of the Jews’ elevated status and took their commitment to their God as an opportunity to put them in bad sorts with the King. When Nebuchadnezzar heard that Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused to worship his image, he became furious. He then brought them in to confront them first-hand. Even in the face of a furious king threatening to execute them, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused to worship any other god or image other than the Lord their God. Nebuchadnezzar asked them… challenged them by saying “who is the god who can rescue you from my power.” Well… Nebuchadnezzar would soon find out.
Nebuchadnezzar had the furnace stoked 7 times as hot as normal – so hot that the men who threw Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in, died from the heat. Yet, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego walked around in the furnace unharmed. The only thing on them that burned were the ropes that they were bound with. With them in the furnace was a forth man that Nebuchadnezzar said looked like the son of God. God, the God of all Grace was present with His faithful followers in the fire and protected them. They got free in the midst of the fire, and when they came out, God was glorified.
NT: “I exhort the elders among you as a fellow elder and witness to the sufferings of Christ, as well as one who shares in the glory about to be revealed: Shepherd God’s flock among you, not overseeing out of compulsion but willingly, as God would have you; not out of greed for money but eagerly; not Lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. In the same way, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. All of you clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your cares on him, because he cares about you. Be sober-minded, be alert. Your adversary the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. Resist him, firm in the faith, knowing that the same kind of sufferings are being experienced by your fellow believers throughout the world. The God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, establish, strengthen, and support you after you have suffered a little while. To him be dominion forever. Amen.” (1 Peter 5:1-11 CSB)
Leaders (elders and pastors) in the church are not to lead out of compulsion or greed. They are not to lord their positions of authority over the flock. They are to serve as under-shepherds fully submitted to the Chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ. The flocks they serve do not belong to them, but to Christ – they are merely stewards shepherding what has been entrusted to them. In the same way, those in the flock are to submit themselves under the leadership of the elders… and everyone is to be clothed in humility toward one another.
God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble. Ultimately, when we submit to our elders and submit to one another, we come under the mighty hand of God. It is then, as we are humbly submitted under His hand that He gives grace. It is when we are under the mighty hand of God that we are able to resist the devil effectively. It is when we are under the mighty hand of God that the God of all Grace restores, establishes, strengthens, and supports us – even in the midst of the fires of trial and tribulation – that we may be overcomers that glorify Him.
Psalms: “Your hands made me and formed me; give me understanding so that I can learn your commands. Those who fear you will see me and rejoice, for I put my hope in your word. I know, Lord, that your judgments are just and that you have afflicted me fairly. May your faithful love comfort me as you promised your servant. May your compassion come to me so that I may live, for your instruction is my delight. Let the arrogant be put to shame for slandering me with lies; I will meditate on your precepts. Let those who fear you, those who know your decrees, turn to me. May my heart be blameless regarding your statutes so that I will not be put to shame.” (Psalms 119:73-80 CSB)
The psalmist knew who his God was… he knew who his maker and creator was, and it was the Lord God that he honored, trusted and hoped in. Even though arrogant people slandered him for his commitment to God’s word, will and ways, he would not relent and become unfaithful. The psalmist knew that the God of all Grace would comfort him and sustain him, and ultimately bring shame on his enemies.
Prayer: Lord, I thank You that as I submit myself under Your hand in humility and walk in steadfast faithfulness to Your word, will and ways, all grace is available to me to withstand any trial and endure any suffering. May I be like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Give me the boldness and conviction to refuse compromise with the culture, and honor You always. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.