Read Daniel 3:1-12
1King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, ninety feet high and nine feet wide, and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. 2He then summoned the satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates and all the other provincial officials to come to the dedication of the image he had set up. 3So the satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates and all the other provincial officials assembled for the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up, and they stood before it.
4Then the herald loudly proclaimed, "This is what you are commanded to do, O peoples, nations and men of every language: 5As soon as you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and all kinds of music, you must fall down and worship the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. 6Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace."
7Therefore, as soon as they heard the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp and all kinds of music, all the peoples, nations and men of every language fell down and worshiped the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.
8At this time some astrologers came forward and denounced the Jews. 9They said to King Nebuchadnezzar, "O king, live forever! 10You have issued a decree, O king, that everyone who hears the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and all kinds of music must fall down and worship the image of gold, 11and that whoever does not fall down and worship will be thrown into a blazing furnace. 12But there are some Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon-Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego — who pay no attention to you, O king. They neither serve your gods nor worship the image of gold you have set up." (NIV)
As we continue reading Daniel, we now enter a problem that has been played out over and over throughout history. There are people who seek to force people to acknowledge their power and fame. For those who refuse, there is a punishment to be had. Someone once noted that we will never be able to rid the world of all the idols as new idols are constantly being created.
Unfortunately, we are seeing a similar push in our country over the last 10 to 20 years. There is a push for different people in power to push out people who disagree with them. The lust for power can be great and can cause us to do things we might never have thought of doing in the past.
Many believe that this is in the 18th year of King Nebuchadnezzar’s reign. This is the year that Jerusalem was completely destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar. But the construction of the gold image is also a sign that there are those who are constantly usurping God’s place in our lives.
This has been the greater problem facing our country over the last 40 years. Each year, we turn to more and more things to replace God in our lives with. Our culture pushes that we don’t need God anymore and that we are capable of solving all our problems, providing for all our needs and giving each of us purpose in life. And the results have not been good.
We have also seen, like in this story, an attack on those who hold to their faith. There are those in society who just can’t let people of faith believe, they must be sought out and attacked. They must be stopped. This is not new to us today. This is our history as believers. There is always going to be something that confronts our faith.
So the question is, what is challenging you today in your faith? Are their things that have happened or people saying things to you to challenge your faith? Is it harder today to practice your faith they way you feel called? There are challenges that each of us must face as we grow in our faith.
I have come to the belief that God allows these challenges because this is how we grow. We tend to grow stronger as we look to our faith for strength in this life. Just as our bodies get stronger when our muscles are pushed to their limits, so is does our faith grow as we rely on it to get through struggles in life.
In Romans, Paul reminds us that “we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5)
God allows us to be tested in life so that our faith might be refined. And God gives us the strength of the Holy Spirit to endure these tests.
Blessings and Peace