“Shadrach (Hananiah), Meshach (Mishael), and Abednego (Azariah) replied, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. 18 But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.”– Daniel 3:16-18 NLT
Before I proceed it is important to remember that the three expats (someone who lives outside their own country) were prisoners of one of the most powerful and ruthless kingdoms in the world at that time–Babylonia. Historically, if one country overpowered another country, it would set about to destroy the culture, language, and borders of that country. In the account below even the names of the four prisoners were changed to Babylonian names in the attempt to wipe out the memory of their homeland and their ethnicity, as well as indoctrinate them into the ways of the Babylonians.
“6 Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were four of the young men chosen, all from the tribe of Judah. 7 The chief of staff renamed them with these Babylonian names: Daniel was called Belteshazzar. Hananiah was called Shadrach. Mishael was called Meshach. Azariah was called Abednego.”–Daniel 1:6-7 NLT
As an aside, this what is transpiring with heightened intensity in America today with the emergence and acceptance of The Social Justice Movement, including Black Lives Matter and Critical Race Theory. If you do your homework, you will discover these organizations are rooted in Marxist Ideology which is set on undermining and overthrowing the foundational values of our Democracy as well as the Judeo-Christian underpinnings of our Constitutional Republic. These movements propound that all American Institutions and systems are systemic with racism and oppression and, therefore, must be overthrown through revolutionary-type measures. The Portland, Oregon riots in 2020 and 2021, instigated by Antifa and supported by our Governor and Mayor demonstrated the approval of such Marxist anarchy.
If you would like to be more informed about the Social Justice Movement, I wrote extensively on the subject in 2020 and 2021. Please go to pages 2 and 3 on my blog: daleebel.org. Also, a superior book on the subject is Social Justice Is Not Biblical Justice, by Scott David Allen. I bought over 25 of these books and gave them to people I thought were people of influence. Of all the pastors I wrote and gave the book to, only one wrote me an email and thanked me for the book. Such is the spirit of compliance and conformity that we are faced with today in the modern evangelical church.
The story of Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, (Daniel 3:16-18) is an epic account of living according to one’s convictions. These men knew if they refused to bow down to the ninety-foot-tall statue of King Nebuchadnezzar, they would be executed. It is obvious that the three expats feared God more than they feared death itself. They would rather die by the flame than dishonor God. So, they made a defining decision to stand up for what was right rather than bow down to what was wrong.
If I place myself in their position, I could have come up with a dozen rationalizations to justify bowing down.
• I’m bowing on the outside, but not on the inside.
• I’ll ask forgiveness right after I get back up.
• I’m only breaking the First Commandment, (Exodus 20:2-3) that demands we worship the God of the Bible exclusively.
• I can serve the LORD more if I am alive
• “I will keep my fingers crossed” is what I said when I was younger☺
When it comes to rationalizations, we are infinitely creative. But it is our rationalizations that often annul His revelations. When we compromise our convictions, we don’t leave room for the Holy Spirit’s intervention. When we take matters in our own hands, we can take God out of the equation. When we try to manipulate a situation, we miss out on the miracle.
Sometimes when I read historical stories in the Bible I think that they are a bit out of reach for me today. Then I am reminded of 1 Corinthians 10:11.
“These things happened to them as examples for us. They were written down to warn us who live at the end of the age.”
The accounts that the Apostle Paul is talking about in Corinthians are found in Exodus and Numbers recounting the Exodus and the worship of the Golden Calf, and when the Israelites worshipped the god, Baal of Peor. Four major sins are characterized in these passages: Idolatry (v.7); sexual immorality (v.8); testing God (v.9); and complaining (v.10).The point for us is when we read the account of Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, we can learn how to live more effectively for the Lord Jesus Christ and avoid repeating past errors.
If Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah (isn’t it refreshing to give their Jewish names rather than their pagan Babylonian names?), had compromised their convictions and bowed down to the statue, they would have been delivered from the fiery furnace. But it would have been by Nebuchadnezzar, not by God. And it would have been a deliverance from, not through. They would have forfeited their testimony by failing the test. And while they would have saved their lives, they would have sacrificed their convictions.
• It was staying true to their convictions that triggered the miracle
• It was staying true to their convictions that allowed God to show up and show off.
• It was staying true to their convictions that was their fire insurance and life insurance.
♌ While I can’t imagine anyone’s employer would construct a ninety-foot-tall statue to himself or herself, I can imagine an employer asking you to cut a corner or cook some numbers here or there. Don’t bow down. Lose your job before you lose your integrity.
♌ If your church goes woke (becomes awakened to white systemic racism)
and to the false ideology of Critical Race Theory, don’t bow down. Attempt to talk to your pastor or someone on the leadership team and inform them of the errors of this ideology because they go against Scripture. Prayerfully and hopefully a dialogue will ensue. If they listen and change, stay at the church. If they do not agree with you, leave the church, stop giving money, and ask your friends to do the same. Stand on your righteous convictions.
♌ Your son or daughter moves away from the faith. Do not compromise your convictions, and do you bow down to them (your kids and their false ideologies), thinking your appeasement will bring them back. Stay resolute in your biblical convictions.
♌ When your local school insists that your child be exposed to the LGBQ indoctrination, stand up for your biblical convictions and request a change. If the response is NO move your child out of the school to a private or other charter type school that are available in person or online. It is really not that complicated. Come on… be brave stand on your moral convictions!
In the above four examples it is rewarding for me to know people or families who have not bowed down. Isn’t it fun to be on the field rather than sitting in the stands?
For Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, it was their convictions that got them in trouble with Nebuchadnezzar, but it was their same convictions that found them in favor with God. And I would much rather get in trouble with King Nebuchadnezzar than with the King of Kings, Jesus Christ! When we live according to our convictions God will show up and show off like crazy. When you exercise righteous convictions in tempting situations, God might make a dramatic entrance, just like he did with Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. Three men were thrown into the furnace, but a fourth Man (Jesus Christ) was ready and waiting to reward their righteousness.
And He’s still waiting.
The Redeemer wants to rescue us, but by faith we must put ourselves in that precarious position and act on our righteous convictions.
The reality is, keeping our convictions probably won’t keep us from getting thrown into the fiery furnace, but it will keep us from getting burned. At the very least it might potentially convict or influence people around us.
A few months ago, a man in our ministry told me how his daughter acted on her biblical convictions. She worked for NIKE in a high-profile capacity. When the leadership of her division made the decision to support a particular emphasis of the LGBQ community she resigned. She approached the authority above her and respectfully said that she could no longer be part of the NIKE organization. She left and in the providence of God she found another job with better pay and hours within two weeks.
The warning motif in the Word of God is pretty much eradicated from the greater evangelical church today, but 1 Corinthians 10:11 is saying these past biblical accounts are warnings for us today as to how we are to live.
“They were written down to warn us who live at the end of the age.”
What is your posture—standing up or bowing down?
- From what you are observing in the boarder culture, where are you discovering the indoctrination of the secular mindset?
- Are you able to define, critique, and provide a Biblical defense against false ideologies associated with the Social Justice Movement? Examples: Critical Race Theory, White Fragility, Systemic Racism, or Biblical Justice compared to Social Justice. Please become biblically informed.
- List several areas in your life where you are standing up and acting on your righteous convictions.
- In what areas are you currently, or are you tempted to “bow down?”
- Of the four examples I provided indicated with the ♌marking, which ones resonated the most with you and why?
- In what way did the story of Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, bring a warning to you?
- Were there any phrases in this article that you would like to repeat to other people in your sphere of influence? Remember, if you don’t use it, you lose it☺!