Some 2,600 years ago, three young men, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, faced a cultural crisis when they were commanded to show honor to a false god.
After their native country of Judah was conquered by the Babylonian Empire, the three were taken to Babylon to be trained for service in King Nebuchadnezzar's government (Daniel 1:1-7). They were in a vulnerable position in a kingdom in which the monarch ruled with absolute power.
The king built a graven image and commanded that everyone should show honor to his creation by bowing down to it (Daniel 3:1-7). Although some may have reasoned that they should show respect to the ruler by accepting some of his customs, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego determined to show respect to God by refusing to comply with this decree.
They knew their decision would lead to their being thrown into "a burning fiery furnace" (verses 6, 12-15), but they remained firm in their conviction. When the moment of decision arrived and the king personally commanded them to show honor to His god, they replied,
"O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up" (verses 16-18).
These courageous young men were willing to give their lives, if necessary, to show loyalty to God alone. Appreciating their devotion, God spared their lives in a powerful and miraculous witness to King Nebuchadnezzar (verses 19-30). The faith and faithfulness of these young men remains an enduring example of respect for God. Their example should inspire all of us to honor our Creator with a similar sense of loyalty and dedication.