“We Must Obey God as Ruler Rather Than Men”
‘Our God Is Able to Rescue Us’
THE event was designed to be awe-inspiring. An immense image of gold had been erected on the plain of Dura, apparently near the city of Babylon. The image was to be inaugurated during a special ceremony attended by high officials who were expected to bow down before the image at the sounding of an array of musical instruments. Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar had decreed that any who failed to worship the image would die in a superheated furnace. Who would dare to disobey the order?
To the surprise of onlookers, three God-fearing worshippers of Jehovah—Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego—did not bow down. They knew that doing so would be a violation of their exclusive devotion to Jehovah God. (Deuteronomy 5:8-10) When challenged to explain their steadfast position, they fearlessly told Nebuchadnezzar: “If it is to be, our God whom we are serving is able to rescue us. Out of the burning fiery furnace and out of your hand, O king, he will rescue us. But if not, let it become known to you, O king, that your gods are not the ones we are serving, and the image of gold that you have set up we will not worship.”—Daniel 3:17, 18.
When the three Hebrews were thrown into the burning fiery furnace, their lives were saved only by a miracle. God sent an angel to protect His faithful servants. But they had already chosen to risk death rather than disobey Jehovah.* Their position was similar to that of Jesus Christ’s apostles, who over six centuries later declared before the Jewish high court: “We must obey God as ruler rather than men.”—Acts 5:29.
Vital Lessons for Us
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are fine examples of faith, obedience, and loyalty. The three Hebrews exercised faith in Jehovah. Their Scripturally trained conscience did not allow them to participate in any act of false worship or nationalistic devotion. Present-day Christians similarly put implicit trust in the true God. They are guided by their Bible-trained conscience and refuse to participate in acts of false worship or ceremonies that violate God’s laws and principles.
The three faithful Hebrews trusted in Jehovah and refused to trade their obedience to him for anything the Babylonian Empire offered in the way of recognition, status, or glory. Those young men were willing to suffer and die rather than ruin their relationship with God. Like Moses before them, they “continued steadfast as seeing the One who is invisible.” (Hebrews 11:27) Whether Jehovah chose to rescue them from death or not, the three were determined to maintain integrity to him rather than compromise to save their lives. Evidently alluding to their example, the apostle Paul mentions faithful ones who “stayed the force of fire.” (Hebrews 11:34) Such faith and obedience are manifested by Jehovah’s servants as they face tests of integrity in our day.
From the experience of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, we also learn that God rewards loyalty to him. The psalmist sang: “Jehovah . . . will not leave his loyal ones.” (Psalm 37:28) Today, we cannot expect God to rescue us miraculously, as he did the three Hebrews. Yet, we can be confident that no matter what adversity we face, our heavenly Father will provide assistance. God may eliminate the problem, grant us the strength to endure it, or resurrect us if we maintain integrity to the point of death. (Psalm 37:10, 11, 29; John 5:28, 29) Faith, obedience, and loyalty triumph every time our integrity is tested and we choose to obey God rather than men.
See the 2006 Calendar of Jehovah’s Witnesses, July/August.
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DID YOU KNOW?
• The three Hebrews were in their late 20’s when they faced this test of integrity.
• The furnace was evidently made as hot as possible.—Daniel 3:19.