Not Gonna Bow

“Well I won't back down, no I won't back down You could stand me up at the gates of hell But I won't back down Gonna stand my ground, won't be turned around And I'll keep this world from draggin' me down Gonna stand my ground and I won't back down”

I have to admit; I love an old song. This one by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers is a classic. Like an anthem, it rings out, challenging us to stand our ground. Whatever it takes—-we aren’t going to back down. If I were making a movie featuring the plot line of Daniel 3, I’d have this song playing in the background as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego walked with determined faces onto the screen. Staring off into the horizon, with determined looks on their faces, the opening scene would open on the land of Babylon, where their story begins. If you remember, we first meet Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in Daniel 1. (Only in Daniel 1, their names are Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. King Nebuchadnezzar changed them because he wanted to show them who was boss. He was a jerk like that.) In Daniel 1, they took their first stand as they refused to eat the king’s food and disobey God’s Law. As we read at the end of the chapter, God blessed their faithfulness and obedience and put them in prominent positions of power in Babylon's kingdom. Fast forward to Daniel 3, and we meet them again. Their season of training has passed and they are now described as “Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon”. (Daniel 3:12) Although their positions have changed, their challenges have not. Instead, they’ve grown even more difficult. As we read through Daniel 3, we see that once again, these men have to choose to obey God at the risk of their very lives. The story is pretty simple: King Nebuchadnezzar gets the ridiculous idea in his head that he wants all of the world to bow down and worship him. So he builds a gigantic statue and declares that all people must come, bow down, and worship his statue whenever the music is played. Those who didn’t bow were destined to die. Once again, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are faced with a choice. The Ten Commandments state: “You shall have no other gods before me." “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.” (Exodus 20:4-6) Obeying the king’s order meant disobeying God’s Law. As they did before, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego decided that they had to obey God rather than man. They did not bow. Whenever I think about this, I’m reminded of the scene from “Avengers,” where Loki fights Captain America before Tony Stark flies in to save the day. (I love Tony Stark!) Anyway, right before the fight scene, you’ll remember that Loki stands in front of the crowd and demands that everyone bow to him. As he gives his ridiculous speech, everyone bows to their knees. All except one man who stands up looks him in the eye and says, “No. I won’t bow to a man like you.” This had to be what it looked like as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were the only ones standing in a sea of people who bowed their knees. Even when a group of snitches went to the king and said, “These men won’t bow”….(Daniel 3:12) Even when the king said, “Bow or I’ll throw you into the fiery furnace”…. (Daniel 3:14-15) Even when they made the furnace ten times hotter—-so hot that even the men who were escorting them to the furnace died from the heat….(Daniel 3:19-20) Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego said, “We won’t bow.” Specifically, they said: “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” (Daniel 3:17-18) What courage! What passion! What dedication! What conviction. Whatever it took—even if it cost them their lives—these men would not bow. Today, they stand as an example to all of us who are faced with the temptation to bow to a society that has replaced truth with tolerance and demands more and more that we compromise our beliefs to make others more comfortable. In a world that says, “All roads lead to Heaven, you can’t say that there is only one God and one road to salvation.” To all who say, “The Bible is old-fashioned…it can't be taken literally…it doesn’t apply to today.” To all who try to quiet the voice of truth. To all who want to silence the Church. To those who want to steal your freedom of religion, your freedom to share the Gospel, and your freedom to assemble for church services, we need to follow the example of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and say, “We won’t bow.” We won’t bow to a secular, humanist society. We won’t bow to atheists who want to remove God from all of society. We won’t bow to the lies of progressive Christianity. Whether it be withstanding persecution or standing up to a friend who wants you to agree with them rather than speaking truth of the Bible, in every circumstance, the men in Daniel 3 challenge us to follow their example and say, “We will not bow.” Now, more than ever, I believe that we, as believers, need to be preparing ourselves to make this choice. You see, I genuinely believe that no matter who wins the election, it is only a matter of time before persecution comes to the church in America. Many people are already experiencing it on a smaller scale in their personal lives. Some parts of our country are already experiencing it more than others. Personally, I believe that we will all be faced with persecution in some form during our lifetime. For some, refusing to compromise Biblical truth could cost them friends and family members. (We already have several family members who do not talk to us because they do not want to hear the truth of the Gospel.) Others may lose income, jobs, invitations to events or clubs. Eventually, some may be called to go to prison or even die for Jesus. (Twenty years ago I would have said this was impossible in America—now I’m not so sure.) Yet, whatever the cost, whatever we are facing, today is the day to make your choice—-to determine in your heart—-and begin praying that whatever situation arises, you will have the courage and conviction of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Personally, I’ve started to pray that God will always give me the courage to stand by my convictions. To be the one in the crowd who will not bow. To follow the example of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. To live by the words that say, “I won’t back down.” No matter what, I will not bow.

Well I know what's right, I got just one life In a world that keeps on pushin' me around But I'll stand my ground and I won't back down Hey baby there ain't no easy way out Hey I will stand my ground And I won't back down No, I won't back down (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers)


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Adessa Holden is an ordained minister with the Assemblies of God specializing in Women's Ministry. Together with her brother, Jamie, they manage 4One Ministries and travel the East Coast speaking, holding conferences, and producing Men's and Women's resources that provide practical Biblical teaching for everyday life.

When asked about herself, she'll tell you "I'm a women's minister, a sister, and a daughter. I love to laugh and spend time with people. My favorite things are chocolate, the ocean, sandals and white capris, anything purple, summertime and riding in the car listening to music. It is my absolute honor and privilege to serve Jesus and women through this ministry.

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