Monday, December 8, 2008

The Tallest in the Land

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were forced away from their homes in Jerusalem and chosen to serve the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar (pronounced neb-you-kud- Oh, forget it. Just call him Neb-nez).

Shad, Shac, and Ed were stripped of their Hebrew clothes, language, and culture, and required to learn and live the customs of their pagan captors. Even their Hebrew names were replaced with Babylonian names.

King Neb-Nez built a ninety-foot image of gold for his subjects to worship. Ninety feet? Talk about sticking out like a sore thumb! That's some serious obelisk bling. EVERYONE was forced to worship this enormous idol, including the captured Jews.

In the spirit of reverse musical chairs, any time the citizens and slaves of Babylon heard music, they were to stop, drop, and worship the golden image. Failure to do so meant death by fire. It was Babylon's twisted version of American Idol.

Once everyone understood the rules of Babylonian Idol, the king hit the play button on his 8-track tape player (it was a long time ago), and everyone hit the dirt.

Well, almost everyone.

Shad, Shac, and Ed were the only three people in the country still standing. They refused to bow.

The king was told of their refusal to give in to posture-pressure and confronted the three rebels with an ultimatum: "Bow or burn."

They opted for the oven. And in the eyes of this "One-true-God" follower, they stood taller than the image they refused to worship.

As they were thrown into the blazing oven, the king thought about what he would do with his first batch of Hebrew charcoal. But they didn't burn.

The king rubbed his eyes at what he saw when he looked into the oven. Not only did they not burn, they had a guest! Three men were thrown into the fire, but four men were engaged in a flame-broiled conversation that must have been something to see and hear. God joined His loyal followers in the oven and removed the power of the flames.

When the king called them out of the fire, neither their clothes nor their hair had been changed by the fire. Why, they didn't even get a good tan!

The faith of these three men made a believer out of the king. Neb-nez learned that he could change their clothes, address, language, and names -- but he could not change their hearts.

The sad part of this story is that, out of all the Hebrew captives, only three stood up for their God.

How about you? Will you stand up for God when everyone else assumes the posture of compromise?

Crisp, not burned...
Perry Crisp

No comments: