But even if He does not rescue us, we want you as king to know that we will not serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up. Daniel 3:18.
I recently taught well-known stories from the book of Daniel to the adults in my church family – Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s stroll in the furnace and Daniel’s restful night with the lions. These familiar historical accounts spoke “new” lessons to me in the context of the Christian Lawyer Directory and being a Jesus-honoring attorney. Today, we’ll consider the events themselves. Later installments will focus on what inspired the faith of these four brave men and the results thereof.
Both of these stories have the same crisis of belief – take a stand for the Lord or conform to the patterns of the world. The pressure in each episode was escalated by sovereign edicts that imposed certain death for disobedience. Much like what Cassie Bernall purportedly faced at Columbine High School in 1999, these men were ordered to effectively renounce the worship of their God or be killed. In Daniel 3, Babylon’s king erected a massive gold statue and commanded all to bow down and worship it or “be thrown into a furnace of blazing fire.” Three chapters later, a new king ordered that his subjects worship him alone or “be thrown into the lions’ den”.
These young Jewish men had three primary response options – comply, appear to comply, or defy. Everyone else complied with the kings’ commands. Conformity is a powerful force, often prompting one to sacrifice truth and virtue for the sake of homogeneity. Yet, these men refused to abandon the Lord, even though He allowed their homeland to be conquered and them to be deported by Babylon. They rejected the compliance option.
Perhaps they were tempted to behave compliantly but insincerely, with their proverbial fingers crossed. Just as skilled lawyers can find quotes from caselaw to support any legal position, we can rationalize any means to justify what we perceive as a valuable end, the chief of which is survival. These men could have acted to satisfy watchful eyes as a means of escaping death to serve the Lord. This enticing thought was also dismissed.
Each of these men chose the most life-threatening option. Daniel “prayed and gave thanks to his God, just as he had done before.” Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego literally remained standing when all others “fell down and worshiped the gold statue”. Their defiance was unequivocal, remaining faithful to Yahweh no matter the cost.
It is wise to thoroughly explore these familiar stories because our situations resemble those of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Christian lawyers should be non-conformists, despite strong societal pressures and laws aiming to dissuade our faith allegiance. Will we remain with Jesus when doing so potentially threatens our comfort and safety? Let’s learn more about these four Israelites so we can be encouraged to follow their examples. Jesus is worth our stand.