Daniel 3:16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17 If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. 18 But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” (ESV)
As I grow older, I still have within me the young man of 20 years peeping out of the eyes of this 53 year old I now am. I am not that 20 year old, I am this 53 year old. Some of the memories of the 20 year old are vivid, it’s as though that young lad lives within me, keeping a watchful eye on the calling upon his life, and the visions of what would be, motionless, waiting, watching. The visions of what would come to pass have become memories, and the calling has become clearer. But along with that calling I’ve become able to let go of it. It is no longer something for me to achieve, but a picture God is painting, the picture that is his work in me, to His Glory.
I’m sure I read this scripture, Daniel 3:16-18 at least a few times before, but it was at the end of the summer of 1982 that this scripture became significant to me, and has remained as one of many such verses in my mind. Like the bricks in a paved path.
Don’t worry if the imagery eludes you. I’ll make an effort to speak more plainly but I can’t promise anything ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
As a young man of 20 I saw those verses in the perspective of the three boys who defied the King. I remember thinking,
“What?!? <even if he doesn’t> ?!?” How are they going to prove God exists if they are burned to ashes?!?”
But then I saw that there was no doubt in their mind that he existed. They’d already come to know him and we read about that it in the preceding chapters. Their obedience to God, and defiance of the King of Babylon was about their trust in him, not only to deliver them, but to be in control of when where and how they pass from this life to the next.
It is at this age of 53, as a father of 5, that my perspective has changed. Today as I meditated on these verses my eyes shifted from gazing up at Nebuchadnezzar through those three sets of eyes, to gazing down at all those present, through God the Father’s eyes. Their obedience a sweet fragrance, bringing Glory to him! It was a sparring match between the would-be god and the Great I AM God.
And all at once I understand a little more the significance of my obedience. My obedience brings Glory to God. It is my spiritual worship. Recalling to my memory:
Romans 12:1 I appeal to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you].
For us our obedience is about knowing him, we come to know Christ through eating his flesh and drinking his blood (John 6:) His life was foreshadowed back on that plain in Babylon in those three young men. Their life and death were in God’s hands, their obedience was the eating and drinking. Jesus demonstrated obedience even to the point of death. It is in that kind of obedience, that kind of risk that we come to know him. And that is also how we Glorify him. As I wrote about the other day (entitled – Alabaster) Our reasons and his may be different. He moves in us to do his will. At times we are conscious of it, and at other times we are just passionately living our lives, Glorifying him.