November 9, 2020
At this time some astrologers came forward and denounced the Jews. They said to King Nebuchadnezzar, “May the king live forever! Your Majesty has issued a decree that everyone who hears the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music must fall down and worship the image of gold, and that whoever does not fall down and worship will be thrown into a blazing furnace. But there are some Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon—Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego—who pay no attention to you, Your Majesty. They neither serve your gods nor worship the image of gold you have set up.”
If you are unfamiliar with the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, here’s a quick summary. They were Hebrew captives in Babylon, but because of their wisdom and competence, actually held positions of some authority in the kingdom. The King, Nebuchadnezzar, had created a 90 foot tall gold statue of himself, and brought everyone together to worship it. Our three intrepid heroes obviously did not.
It’s unlikely that the golden statue was solid gold. Wooden structures covered in gold were a pretty common practice in that era, and it’s hard to imagine how heavy a statue of that size would be, if it were, in fact, solid gold. Regardless, it was an incredible feat of engineering, and it undoubtedly contained an absurd amount of gold. While we can’t necessarily relate to golden statues and forced worship, let’s pause for a moment and make a modern application to the situation.
Think of something in your life that has value. Not necessarily only monetary value – although that will work for this exercise as well. Maybe you have a brand new car or house. Maybe you value your degree, your position, or how well behaved your children are. Some of us value our free time, our alma mater, or how many instagram followers we have. These things have real value, and are not inherently wrong. But if you look at that list, we are encouraged, and even sometimes forced, to prioritize those things of value above all else. If you want to get ahead at work, you have to pick up extra shifts or stay late. If you want to be admired in your neighborhood, your lawn better be spotless. Your degree is required for the job you want, or the respect you crave. All around us, we’re bombarded with the message that we should worship at the altar of career, or academic excellence, or the picture perfect house and family.
The model of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego isn’t about rebellion against authority or political maneuvering. They simply said, “We know what and who we worship. It doesn’t matter how impressive the statue is. It doesn’t matter the consequences for not worshipping it. We have established our priorities and will live by them. Full stop.”
Let me encourage you, right now, to take a step back from your career, relationships, degree, and family. Ask yourself where your current priorities fall, and where you are focusing your worship. Imagine what would happen if you reoriented your worship and priorities back towards God. What might the cost be? What might the benefits be? Ask God to help you see where you have misaligned your adoration, and to provide the strength and courage to recalibrate.