Daniel chapter 3 has the story, with end time implications, of three faithful stalwarts who would not bow to state-ordered worship.
“King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, 90 feet high and nine feet wide, and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon.”
Then came the proclamation, “Nations and peoples of every language, you are commanded that as soon as you hear the sound of the music, you must fall down and worship the image of gold that is set up. Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.”
The music sounded, and, with the exception of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who remained standing, all the rest fell down and worshipped the idol.
Furious with rage, Nebuchadnezzar summoned them and said, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up? If you do, then all is well, if not, then you will be thrown into a fiery furnace and killed.”
They replied, “King Nebuchadnezzar, … 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.”
An irate Nebuchadnezzar ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual and commanded the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. So these men were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace. The furnace was so hot that the flames killed the soldiers who threw Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, into the blazing furnace.
Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?”
They replied, “Certainly, Your Majesty.” He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”
Nebuchadnez-zar approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out!”
So they came out of the fire. The fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.
Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.”
Soon, a decree will come, when the state enforces church decrees. “It ordered them to set up an image . . . and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed.” (Revelation 13:14, 15)
The three Hebrews would not break God’s commandments, either to put another god before God, the first commandment, nor would they bow down and worship an idol, the second commandment.
What is the message for these end times? There is a day coming, when the church and state will combine to force worship under the threat of death. Soon, all will have to choose whether to submit to state ordered worship, or obey God and worship Him only, and keep all His commandments.
Ian Cotton is the retired pastor of the Creston Seventh-day Advnetist Church.