When Babylon sacked Judah, it took the best of the best; “What was of gold the captain of the guard took away as gold, and what was of silver, as silver” (2Kings 25:15). They also took the best of the people, “youths without blemish, of good appearance and skillful in all wisdom” (Daniel 1:4). Among these were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, to whom were given new names, “Daniel he called Belteshazzar, Hananiah he called Shadrach, Mishael he called Meshach, and Azariah he called Abednego” (Daniel 1:7). Babylon, in effect, saying, “I own you now.” These young men would be molded in the ways of Babylonian royalty, their language, manner, philosophy; even the food they ate.
Not the food, said Daniel. To be holy means to be set apart, and Daniel and his friends were holy toward God, not Babylon, so Daniel began small and “resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food” (Daniel 1:8). Daniel requested of the steward an alternative diet and invited a comparison; “test your servants for ten days; let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink,” (Daniel 1:12) then compare our health to the others. They stood strong in the little matters, preparing themselves for the greater.
The greater came when Nebuchadnezzar made a towering image of gold and commanded all to bow and worship before it, and Daniel’s friends would not. “Whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace,” roared the king (Daniel 3:6), to which Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego responded, “O Nebuchadnezzar, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king.” A bold declaration, yet six words even more defiant and courageous followed, “but even if he does not” (Daniel 3:16-18). They would remain holy to God even if it did not appear in their best interest–even if God did not save them. And they were tossed in the furnace.
Even if he does not, they would not bow, so they stood and God did. Peering into the flames, Nebuchadnezzar saw the three standing unharmed, but there was another, a fourth.“Did we not cast three men bound into the fire? But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods” (Daniel 3:24-25). God is standing with those who are standing for God.
My God, I offer myself as a living sacrifice, which means my life is Yours. I give it to You, so it is no longer mine to lose or another’s to own, but Yours to save. I pray, O God, that my faith will be bold, that when I face that which is impossible for me to do, I will trust in the One who can do all things. I pray that I will act not because I am secure in the outcome, but because I am secure in You.