Daniel 3: 1-6; 12-13; 16-18 (CEB)
3 King Nebuchadnezzar made a gold statue. It was ninety feet high and nine feet wide. He set it up in the Dura Valley in the province of Babylon. 2 King Nebuchadnezzar then ordered the chief administrators, ministers, governors, counselors, treasurers, judges, magistrates, and all the provincial officials to assemble and come for the dedication of the statue that he had set up. 3 So the chief administrators, ministers, governors, counselors, treasurers, judges, magistrates, and all the provincial officials assembled for the dedication of the statue that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. They stood in front of the statue the king had set up. 4 The herald proclaimed loudly: “Peoples, nations, and languages! This is what you must do: 5 When you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, zither, lyre, harp, flute, and every kind of instrument, you must bow down and worship the gold statue that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. 6 Anyone who will not bow down and worship will be immediately thrown into a furnace of flaming fire."
12 Now there are some Jews, ones you appointed to administer the province of Babylon—specifically, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego—who have ignored your command. They don’t serve your gods, and they don’t worship the gold statue you’ve set up.” 13 In a violent rage Nebuchadnezzar ordered them to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They were brought before the king.
16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered King Nebuchadnezzar: "We don't need to answer your question. 17 If our God-the one we serve-is able to rescue us from the furnace of flaming fire and from your power, Your majesty, then let him rescue us. 18 But if he doesn't, know this for certain, Your majesty: we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you've set up.
I want to share something I saw on Facebook a couple of weeks ago. The video pointed out that millions of people go to worship on Saturday or Sunday each week. Some even go to worship other days throughout the week. And if they can't make it to worship they sometimes even watch on television and online. People gather with fellow worshippers well before worship and talk about their excitement for the upcoming event. They go to worship and raise their hands, cheer, pray, and even get excited when worship runs long. Of course the worship I'm talking about is not actually church, it's football. Professional football and college football. And it's not just football but it's baseball, basketball, and golf just to name a few. And it's not just professional and college sports but its those sports that directly affect families on a more personal level. Kids are increasingly playing sports on school teams, club teams, and all star teams and practices for each. I see parents sometimes celebrating and sometimes lamenting the fact that their young kids have 3-4 games on a given weekend.
Here's a link to the video I referenced: Idolatry and Sports
Sunday morning used to be reserved for church but that simply is not the case anymore. Society as a whole has a problem with worshipping false idols. And this includes you and me. My wife and my mom joke and roll their eyes at me and say I need to dump some of the useless sports information and statistics from my head and put some more useful information in there. I mean how does knowing the score of every super bowl from 1986-2018 really benefit the Kingdom of God? If someone knows how that would be useful please let me know. No matter who you are there is always the threat of a false idol. It may not be sports. It may be money, societal status, online shopping, eating, binge watching on Netflix, etc. Everyone has some sort of false idol or temptation they struggle with and it's not a new thing. The worship of false idols has been around for centuries which brings us to our scripture today.
We have the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Of if you prefer the VeggieTales version (which I do) then the story of Rack, Shack, and Benny. So forgive me when I refer to the characters as Rack, Shack, and Benny from here on out. In the story of Rack, Shack, and Benny we have one of the most obvious examples in scripture of worshipping a false idol. For crying out loud King Nebuchadnezzar wants all the people to worship a 90-foot golden statue. (Or if you have watched Veggie Tales, a 90-foot chocolate bunny). King Nebuchadnezzar orders all his officials, governors, treasurers, counselors, etc to tell everyone that they are to bow down and worship this great golden statue whenever they hear the instruments and entire musical ensemble played. He wants them to fall down and do honor which is another way of saying "worship." The king wants the people to worship him on command. But there are three who resist and they are questioned by the King: "You do not worship my Gods and honor my statue?"
Despite his requirements and numerous chances he give Rack, Shack, and Benny to bow down and worship the statue they refuse. And then we get one what I believe to be one of the strongest statements of faith in scripture:
"If our God-the one we serve-is able to rescue us from the furnace of flaming fire and from your power, Your majesty, then let him rescue us. But if he doesn't, know this for certain, Your majesty: we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you've set up."
Rack, Shack, and Benny did not hesitate whether they should comply or not. Life or death was not their main consideration, obedience to God was. They must obey God rather than man and they would rather suffer than sin. Because of these convictions they would not be yield to the threat of death. So how do we have that type of faith? How do we resist false idols?
It takes conviction and making worship and God a priority. We can worship whenever and wherever we are able but when we do we must not simply go through the motions. We must worship God and not think about where we are going to lunch or think about our to do list for the week during worship. We must be keenly aware of our worship attitude and posture. But what about those false idols that tempt us? Let me wrap around to where I began. I mentioned earlier about the demands on people's time, specifically to how sports and kids sports take our time. Carson has played baseball and Courtney has had t-ball and dance which has made a serious demand on our time over the past couple of months due to practices, games, and performances. What Kathy and I decided years ago was that these extra curricular activities would not interfere with or take precedent over church worship. If the kids were to have a game on Sunday morning there would be no question as to what would happen: they would not play in that game and we would go to church. For us this is because we want our kids to grow up making church and worship to our God a priority and nothing will take precedent over that. It's a matter of offering our full selves to God and not "worshipping a false idol."
Grace & Peace