A Daily Dose of Good News
Monday, October 19, 2020
At 10:30 today, this devotional will be offered online at https://youtu.be/nYi6Tgtvfus
A printer-friendly version of today’s devotion is available at DDGN 20201019
Good morning! It’s October 19 and it’s time for our Daily Dose of Good News which is from Daniel 3:1-18. So, it’s the first half of a story, and tomorrow will be the second half- a little preview, a little teaser. So, if you want to have the whole story, you probably want to tune in for both days. Daniel is a book that was written during the time period, or references, the time period of the exile. So, when Jerusalem basically was overthrown by the Babylonians and the Jews are in exile. In this story, there are some questions about whether this is a historical, literal story, or if this is fiction, based on this time period. One of the things I love about the Bible, is whether you want to take it as literal or figurative, I’d tell you that there’s God’s truth in it. No matter which interpretation you decide makes sense to you. So, Chapter 3…
King Nebuchadnezzar made a golden statue whose height was sixty cubits and whose width was six cubits; he set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. Then King Nebuchadnezzar sent for the satraps, the prefects, and the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the justices, the magistrates, and all the officials of the provinces, to assemble and come to the dedication of the statue that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. So the satraps, the prefects, and the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the justices, the magistrates, and all the officials of the provinces, assembled for the dedication of the statue that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. When they were standing before the statue that Nebuchadnezzar had set up, the herald proclaimed aloud, “You are commanded, O peoples, nations, and languages, that when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, drum, and entire musical ensemble, you are to fall down and worship the golden statue that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. Whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be thrown into a furnace of blazing fire.” Therefore, as soon as all the peoples heard the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, drum, and entire musical ensemble, all the peoples, nations, and languages fell down and worshiped the golden statue that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.
Accordingly, at this time certain Chaldeans came forward and denounced the Jews. They said to King Nebuchadnezzar, “O king, live forever! You, O king, have made a decree, that everyone who hears the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, drum, and entire musical ensemble, shall fall down and worship the golden statue, and whoever does not fall down and worship shall be thrown into a furnace of blazing fire. There are certain Jews whom you have appointed over the affairs of the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These pay no heed to you, O king. They do not serve your gods and they do not worship the golden statue that you have set up.”
Then Nebuchadnezzar in furious rage commanded that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be brought in; so they brought those men before the king. Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods and you do not worship the golden statue that I have set up? Now if you are ready when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, drum, and entire musical ensemble to fall down and worship the statue that I have made, well and good. But if you do not worship, you shall immediately be thrown into a furnace of blazing fire, and who is the god that will deliver you out of my hands?”
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to present a defense to you in this matter. If our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire and out of your hand, O king, let him deliver us. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods and we will not worship the golden statue that you have set up.”
Here ends the reading. So, an exciting story, as we hear about it. I want to pull out two components of this.
First, I want to pull out Nebuchadnezzar’s reaction. I think that’s based on a few things that were said directly to him. One is, the Chaldeans came and said: “ These men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, pay no heed to you, O king. They do not serve your gods and they do not worship the golden statue that you have set up.” So, that’s what’s said to him, ok? So, specifically, it’s highlighting the insult they think Nebuchadnezzar is going to feel at being disobeyed, at being challenged, at being ignored. Nebuchadnezzar’s response is: “Nebuchadnezzar in furious rage”. And, furious rage, is something that I know something about, and you probably do, too. Whether you have been on the receiving end of that, or maybe there have been times when you have been in a furious rage. We don’t always talk about that, but let’s talk about it, ok? I think often times when you experience furious rage – not just annoyed, or someone’s angry with you or frustrated. When you experience, to the extent, furious rage, I think that is almost always related to someone wanting to control you, or wanting you to idolize them. So, I leave that for you to ponder. I think when you get to furious rage from someone, that is an indication of the extent to which it is demanded by them, that you adhere to whatever it is they want you to adhere to. I think in terms of this, one of the best definitions I ever heard of anger is = ‘anger is when someone oversteps your boundaries’. So furious rage, in this situation we’re reading about today, for Nebuchadnezzar, is these men dared to overstep his boundaries of: what he says goes, when he says bow down- you better bow down, sort of like when someone says ‘jump! You say ‘how high?’. The fact that they would dare, not to do what he said, as the king of this land, he demands that they idolize him. He demands that they do what he says. So, I think whenever you see furious rage, I’d like you to begin thinking of it from that lens: ‘Is someone asking me to idolize them? Is someone asking to worship something that they think is important?’ So, that’s the first component I want you to think of.
The second component is simply at the very end of the text. I want you to just hear, what the men say, when they’re confronted. “O King, we have no need to present a defense to you in this matter. We will not worship the golden statue that you have set up.” I think often times, when we’re presented a situation where we have to stand firm, on our Christian faith, on our Christian ethics, on our Christian beliefs, it is a time of being very plain-spoken and not wavering, of: ‘we will not do that, and we don’t owe any defense to you. I don’t have to explain myself to you’. And again that’s a way of pushing back against the idolatry: ‘you’re not in charge of me. You’re not the one I answer to. I don’t have to present a defense to you. I’m not gong to do it’. I just would encourage us to consider how, it can be beneficial to be that plain-spoken and that straight-forward when our Christian values, our Christian ethics, our Christian beliefs are challenged. And if that takes some time to sit down and center on: ‘what are the things that I hold to as a Christian that there’s no question about? Where I’m going to stand’. Spend some time on that today.
I think it’s a bit like, several things… I know often times, when we have teenage kids, we talk to them about decision making that they’re going to do. Whether that’s related to drinking, drugs, or sexual interactions, or whatever that is. Often times, we tell them: ‘you need to have a decision made before you get in these situations, so that you’re not deciding in the moment, based on how you feel and all the emotions that might be at play. You have to know where you’re at ahead of time. So, you can stand firm and make your decisions’. Likewise, maybe a silly example, is when I was giving birth to my third child, my labors had gotten consistently faster and by the time we got to Lauren, we knew she was going to be a fast labor. I’d gone from 12 hours, to 4 hours, and my OB was like, ‘this third baby is going to come quickly’. So I decided not to have any medication and to go natural in childbirth. When I was talking to my OB about it and other friends who had done that, they said specifically, ‘it’s important to determine that ahead of time and to go in with the mindset of: I can do this natural childbirth, I’m going to do this, and to have your mind made up’. So when you get into the heart of the situation, there’s not a sense of wavering. It worked out fine (laughs).
I would encourage you, to think about:
Where do people try to demand that I idolize something?
Where is my Christian faith in that?
Where do I get centered and grounded on what I believe – so that I can stand firm in my faith?
Fun day for you! Enjoy that. Take care. I’ll see you tomorrow. Bye-bye