Religion both unifies and divides. In order to unify Babylon Nebuchadnezzar built a huge image and required all the inhabitants of the land to worship this image. (Never mind that the God of Heaven had just shown him this image in a dream) This command also distinguished God fearing Jews from those around them. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego stood out from all those around them in their blatant refusal to bow down to the image because of their reverential fear of the Living God. They chose the fiery pit over the base of the golden image. They expressed amazing faith in God Most High.
A basic tenant of Christianity is that faith cannot be coerced. Manley Beasley used to say "force makes hypocrites". Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego's decision not to bow honored the LORD as they prepared to die. Like those saints in the book of the Revelation, they "did not love their lives to the death" (Revelation 12:11). Their reverence of God far outweighed their love of life. Their courageous decision bore testimony of the greatness of God and God's intervention on their behalf spoke volumes to Nebuchadnezzar of his own foolishness. Nebuchadnezzar tried to use image worship/religion to bring about unity; the willingness of those three men to die for their God, however, brought true unity.
Little did these three men know that their willingness to suffer or even die would result in the amazing presence of the pre-incarnate Christ, a mighty rescue from God, and a mighty turning to God by the king. So today, we never know the eternal significance of the decisions that we make. And, we never know just how God will show up in the midst of our trying circumstances when we refuse to back down from testifying of the greatness of our God.
Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading:
2 Kings 24:5-6; 2 Chronicles 36:8; 2 Kings 24:8-9; 2 Chronicles 3:10-16
- Look at the time line in the front of your Bible to see when Jehoiachin reigned as king of Judah. How many years does Judah have remaining before the final (3rd) deportation to Babylon?
- King Jehoiachin heard Jeremiah's messages regarding the Babylonian invasion. Why does he disregard Jeremiah's message?
- You're probably very familiar with this story. As you read this story list at least five details from the story that you've not noticed before in previous readings.
- What does the wailing of women signify?
- Even in the midst of proclaiming the horrors ahead what does the LORD promise regarding the future of His people?
- Who is Pashhur and what is so significant about his treatment of Jeremiah?
- How does Jeremiah respond to his ill-treatment?
- What does obedience to the LORD cost Jeremiah?
- What does this tell you about those who walk in obedience to the LORD?
Thank the LORD for those who've paid the price and suffered for following the Living God. Ask the LORD to help you become a man or woman of conviction, one "who does not love his life unto death".