A few weeks ago, Jamie and I spent the day with some friends who have little kids. We played all kinds of games, including a rousing round of “Simon says.” (Have to admit, this was the first time I played this game in years.)
It was funny watching the little ones do the nutty things that Jamie (as Simon) would tell them to do.
Simon says, “Scratch your tummy.”
Simon says, “Do a somersault.”
Simon says, “Jump around like a little monkey.”
It was a fun ten minutes (until they got bored and moved on.) Later on, I began to wonder, “Do you ever feel like you’re playing a game of Simon Says in today’s culture?”
Simon says, “Don’t say that.”
Simon says, “You can’t think this.”
Simon says, “You have to believe what I believe.”
It’s one of the most significant challenges Christians face today: Choosing whether or not they will play along or refuse to bow to the voices of a secular, anti-Christian society.
It’s just like the situation found in Daniel 3, where three followers of God had to choose to bow or not to bow.
Once again, we meet Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego. (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 alongside Daniel 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 face 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.
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.
It’s essential to recognize that for Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego, the possibility of death was very, very high. Like 99.9%. The only hope they had was that God would come through and do a miracle. When these three men made their choice, there was no guarantee this would happen. (They hadn’t read the end of the story.)
Still, with no guarantee and the high probability of death by incineration, these ride or die men made this commitment: “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, NIV)
“But even if he does not”….
What a powerful statement!
Whether God does a miracle or suffer consequences for our stand for Christ, we will still follow Him.
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 the truth of the Bible, in every circumstance, the men in Daniel 3 challenge us to follow their example and say, “We will not bow.”
Here’s what’s even more impressive about what these three men: they said they wouldn’t bow, NO MATTER WHAT.
They trusted that God would come through for them, yet they said, “EVEN IF HE DOESN’T,” we still won’t bow.
The truth is that sometimes refusing to bow comes at a cost.
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. I have a friend who lost her job last year because she refused to bow to woke culture and compromise her Biblical beliefs. It happens.
Eventually, some may be called 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.
We need to pray that God will give us the courage and the strength that no matter what the culture demands, we will not play cultural Simon Says, but rather we will be the one in the crowd who will not bow.
We need to pay that we will follow the example of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and live by the words that say, “No matter what, I will not bow.”
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."