September 13 (Daily reading: Daniel 1-3) God chose four young Hebrew men for special service while they were in exile. Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah had been selected to serve in the king’s palace in Babylon. The attention of the palace officials was drawn to them because God’s hand was upon them. Their faith was in God from the beginning. They were permitted to eat vegetables and drink water instead of the normal rich fare of the palace. Afterwards, the king noted that they looked ten times better than the others. Their names were changed to (in order): Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meshack, and Abednego.
Their faith would soon be tested. King Nebuchadnezzar set up an image of gold for everyone to worship, but Shadrach, Meshack, and Abednego refused to bow to the statue. Those who were jealous of them turned them in, so they were called in and given another chance. They were told that if they bowed to the statue, all would be forgiven. But if they did not, they would be thrown into a blazing furnace.
Their response gives us a pathway to dealing with temptation. They were sure of their position as believers. This led them to say, “We do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter” (3:16). Their answer had already been given in their refusal to bow to the statue. To reconsider, or debate with temptation, would only create doubt and possibly failure. They were also sure of the power of their God: “Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire” (3:17). And they were sure of their faith: “But even if He does not (deliver us) … we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” They had confidence that God would be with them, and this gave them strength in their time of testing.
– Al Gary