Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had achieved remarkable career successes so they had nothing to gain by challenging the King of Babylon. Why did they challenge King Nebuchadnezzar? He had erected a golden statue and issued an edict that everyone was to bow down to this graven image when certain musical instruments were played. When people erect golden statues, they mean business. The commandment to worship this abomination violated their personal convictions and the First Commandment of God. It did not take long before somebody noticed them standing while everybody else was kneeling. When you stand up for right, you stick out like a sore thumb.
It is possible that their refusal to bow was reported by those that envied their success. Success breeds success and it also breed haters. Like cockroaches, they come crawling out of the woodwork, sometimes disguised as friends.
When Nebuchadnezzar challenged their civil disobedience, they reaffirmed their commitment to God by saying, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up” (Daniel 3:16-18).
It would have been so easy for them to rationalize their situation and bow before the image. They could have said, “Better a live dog than a dead lion.” Or maybe they could have thought, “We will bow in private where nobody can see us because God has positioned us to help our people.” They could have reasoned that bowing would actually save many lives. What harm is there in bowing for just a few seconds when you know that you are not really worshipping a golden statue? As long as they knew in their hearts that they were just going through some harmless, outward ritual, what difference would it really make?
Rationalizing is what gets us into trouble with God and makes violating his commandments easy. How many times have your rationalized today? Rationalization always leads to unnecessary compromising. Satan attempted to get Jesus to rationalize and compromise his purpose to redeem humanity by bowing before him (Matthew 4:8-11).
These three men realized that Nebuchadnezzar was not the key to their success. He was an instrument that God used to promote them, but he was not their significance or security. They understood that you cannot abandon the principles of God and walk in the blessings of God. You do not grieve the one that made you to satisfy the one that thinks he controls you.
They emphatically told the king, God is able! How is he able? “He is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20). He is able to conquer kingdoms, administer justice, and help us gain what he promised; shut the mouths of lions, quench the fury of the flames, and escape the edge of the sword; turn our weakness into strength; help us become powerful in battle and rout our enemies (Hebrews 11:33-35).
Our influence may not be widespread, but somebody is watching us and is swayed by our actions. By doing the right thing, these three men changed the king’s edict and made God famous among this heathen nation. When the heat is turned up, it is easy to rationalize. Do the right thang!