King Nebuchadnezzar seemed to be doing so well! Just recently we watched him bow before God and Daniel, thankful that the weight of the whole world doesn’t rest on his shoulders, relieved to learn there is an eternal kingdom coming which won’t be thrown off or thrown around. And then, well, power is seductive. Addicting. Not long after this we find Nebuchadnezzar lording and using power poorly again, and causing great threat to some of God’s most faithful followers.
He builds this ridiculous idol; an image of some sort that towers on a hill for all to see. It’s 90 feet by 9 feet of gold and ostentatious, frivolous, idolatry. The thing represents all idols, frankly: it’s unsteady, unstable, silly looking, and demanding of worship when the right music plays.
And the music plays. And people bow. Everyone, that is, except for a few good people from Jerusalem; Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. After they are outed by jealous Babylonians they are brought before the king and commanded to bow before this ridiculous idol. But they won’t. And they boldly proclaim that God can and will save them…but even if he doesn’t they will still not bow to such a thing.
The king’s crown blows off his hot head and he orders a fire lit 7 times hotter than usual to throw these knuckleheads into! Get rid of them and teach the world a lesson! But then, after they are in the fire, he looks in to see them hanging out unburned and obviously fine. And more, they have company; something or someone who looks angelic or otherworldly is hanging out with the friends. He releases the captives and, again, praises the God who continues to put up with his ridiculous pomp.
This story stirred our imaginations on Sunday and invited us to reflect on some very difficult but very important questions. To what are we bowing down (perhaps unintentionally)? What music or anthem, when played, causes us to bow to something other than God? Could we, if given the chance, stand up to tyranny and show faith even if this means death? Are we actually being given that chance now but we don’t see it because idolatry, these days, is less obvious than a 90-foot-golden image?
What would you have done?
What are you doing?
What will you do?