when you must.

Daniel 3:7–12

So at that time, when all the people heard the sound of the horn, flute, harp, and lyre, in symphony with all kinds of music, all the people, nations, and languages fell down and worshiped the gold image which King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.

Therefore at that time certain Chaldeans came forward and accused the Jews. They spoke and said to King Nebuchadnezzar, “O king, live forever! You, O king, have made a decree that everyone who hears the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, shall fall down and worship the gold image; and whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. There are certain Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego; these men, O king, have not paid due regard to you. They do not serve your gods or worship the gold image which you have set up.”

The time has come to pick a fight. Worship is not negotiable. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego are willing to “die on this hill.”

To the secular mind, this is nuts. Who cares? Why pick this fight? The statue has no real power, despite what the king might think. It doesn’t matter.

They pick this fight because the secular mind is wrong; God made it perfectly clear that this matters.

“You shall have no other gods before Me.

“You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.” — Exodus 20:3–6

Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego are right. There’s no conceivable interpretation of this passage that allows for worshipping Nebuchadnezzar’s gold statue.

Any exile who obeys the king’s command is an unbeliever.

True faith trumps everything else. When secular reasoning and Christian reasoning are in total conflict, you find out whether faith is real.

But Christians fail these tests all the time. Does that mean they’re not really Christians?

Yes and no. A better way to say this might be, “It’s a work in progress.”

Faith grows.

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.