Summary: This is a part of our 3:16 series looking at various 3:16 i the Bible, this message looks at the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and what they believed.
To do what is right or to do what is smart.
Have you ever been faced with a situation where those seem to be your only two options?
You know what’s right, you know what God requires of you and yet that doesn’t seem to be the wisest course of action. Maybe it’s a matter of doing the right thing, or not doing the wrong thing.
And while you know what you should do, at the same time you are doing a quick cost analyst in your head. If I do this, what will it cost me in terms of friends, or money or job security? Should I speak up or remain silent on an issue? If you are like me I’m sure that’s you’ve discovered that sometimes silence is golden, sometimes it’s just plain yellow.
And that question to do what was right or to do what was smart was the question at the heart of today’s 3:16.
For those of you who haven’t been with us this summer we have been preaching from a variety of Chapter 3 verse 16s since June. We of course started with the obligatory John 3:16 and then we moved to the oft quoted 2 Timothy 3:16, and we’ve been in the book of Acts, Joshua and Ephesians.
Because this is a family Sunday and we have many of our children with us in the service I rummaged around in the tickle trunk and discovered that we actually had a flannel graph set for one of our 3:16, which also happens to be one of my favourite Old Testament stories.
This morning we are looking at Daniel 3:16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. And we are going to start by telling you the story:
Three young men who were only doing what they thought was right and now they were to pay the ultimate price. Because they had disobeyed a royal decree they were to be put to death, and not just any death they were to suffer a nasty death.
To many, they had made the right choice, but I’m not sure anyone thought they picked the smart choice.
I mean if you had to be sentenced to death this wasn’t the one you’d want to pick. They were to be thrown into an immense furnace used for firing pottery and apparently the occasional execution. Not a situation that anyone would want to be presented with, but here they were. And I’m sure at that point they thought of those great words of Yogi Berra’s “The Future ain't what it used to be.”
Our story this morning happened after Babylon had conquered Israel and the Babylonian King a man by the name of Nebuchadnezzar had ordered that a the most promising young captives from Jerusalem were to be brought to the palace as his personal slaves.
And the story is about three of those young men whose names were, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. I know of one person who used to call them Your Shack, My Shack and Little bungalow and I had a professor at Bible College who was in the habit of referring to them as Shake the Bed, Make the Bed and in the Bed you Go. But their names, at least the names you would know them by were Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Those however were not the names they were born with. Those names were Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah,
But part of the slavery process was to erase who they had been, so their birth names were taken away and they were given Babylonian names, so that’s when they became Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. That of course wasn’t confined to customs 3000 years ago, how many of you remember the scene from the Roots mini Series when Kunta Kinta was told that his name was Toby?
For three years they were taught and trained in the court of the king and at the end of that period Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were the honour students and were appointed as advisers in the King’s Court.
But that was then and this was now. If we fast forward ahead three years we discover that King Nebuchadnezzar has come down with a bad case of deity envy, that is he wanted to be God. And if’n you’re God then you should be worshipped and that’s where we come into the story.
So, Nebuchadnezzar had a huge idol created and erected. When the royal musicians played everyone was to bow down and worship the statue, everyone, even exiled Jews. If we had background music here it would change to a minor key signifying that something bad was about to happen.
Now if you grew up in church and Sunday School then you probably already know the story.