Daniel 3 Part 1. In the previous passage Nebuchadnezzar dreamt of a statue with a golden head that degraded to silver, then bronze all the way down to clay. Later he was disappointed to learn from Daniel that soon his kingdom of gold would terminate and will give way to a kingdom of silver. How he wished if only the statue in his dream could be gold from head to toe, thereby securing this position forever. So with the intention to alter his future and fortune, he erected a statue of gold from head to toe. I find it incredible that what the king could not do in his dream, he was able to do in real life.
At the dedication ceremony when good music started to play, those who did not have a strong backbone prostrated themselves before the statue, except for Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. I once heard this passage being preached on the radio by a pastor from a mainstream ministry. Using this passage as an example, he said that music has the power to make people do sinful things. Then he referenced Ephesians 2:2, which refers to Satan as the ruler of the kingdom of the air. Then the pastor equated the kingdom of the air to radio waves traveling through the air, and since the devil is the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the devil controls the radio. Being the devil, he plays music genres such as rap, rock, pop, and hip hop, which cause people to do bad things. When I heard that I was speechless. That was a creative message.
All humor aside, the three friends did not do much. They remained absolute, and eventually that got them into big trouble. Then God intervened in their situation and exalted them. Here I see that God truly treasures those who don’t compromise on their conviction. God is looking for those whose backbone won’t bend and whose knees won’t buckle under all kind of pressure from the world. Throughout history there have been a few individuals who simply would not go with the trend when they knew to do so is wrong. I am reminded of a well-known photo taken during the time of Nazi Germany. In the photo, everyone, including soldiers and high-ranking officials, raised their right arm to “heil Hitler.” But among the sea of people there was one young man who stood there and defiantly crossed his arms. I am also reminded of another event taking place in 1989 where a Chinese student stood in front of an advancing column of tanks sent by the Chinese Communist Party to put down a protest taking place at Tiananmen Square. God wants me to have a backbone that does not know how to bend and knees that do not buckle. When the music of romance, money making, or the desire for comfort begins to play in my mind, He wants me to remain standing in defiance of what the world wants me to do. When I am being pressured to compromise on my worship, God wants me to stand and cross my arms, not accepting the enemy’s offer.
When the king heard that the three friends were not worshiping the statue, he threatened them. The three friends didn’t bend the first time and they ain’t gonna bend this time around. In the best case scenario, God would save them and they would be so happy and thankful to God. In the worst case scenario, they would be burned to death, and they would be so happy and thankful to God. Whether it is the best case or worst case scenario, at the end of the day God is still awesome, God is still great.
Here I see that the secret to successful Christian living is to work out the worst case scenario in my life, and to still walk away so happy and thankful to God. In the worst case scenario, my life won’t amount to much. Eventually death will take away my parents, the two people I love the most. In the worst case scenario, I lose my job, my health deteriorates, and God no longer uses me to save souls. The worst case scenario would be living a lifetime of loneliness. But even in the worst case scenario, I can still walk away feeling so happy and grateful to God. The worst case scenario doesn’t change the fact that the Father loves me, Jesus saved me, and the Holy Spirit gave birth to my spirit. The worst case scenario doesn’t change the fact that God has used me as an article of gold for His greatest purpose, which was to save souls and establish disciples, and I am still in the race to do more. In the worst case scenario, God is still on His throne shrouded in glory and majesty, the sky is still blue and beautiful, and food still tastes good.
One time Sam gave a ride to a family heading to the airport. The husband and father had learned that Sam just married a beautiful lady. When the passengers had to be dropped off, Sam asked him if he had any advice for the happy newlyweds. The father leaned over, lowered his voice, and whispered, “Lower your expectations.” The secret to a lasting marriage is to lower one’s expectations. That is the same secret to a lasting relationship in God. God does not owe me anything. I am entitled to nothing. Beyond this point, everything is just icing on the cake, the cherry on top. Just like it was for Paul, for me everything is grace.