By Kevin Shrum
Pastor, Inglewood Baptist Church, Nashville
The “Pledge of Allegiance” has become a controversial thing in recent years. For some, to pledge allegiance to a nation they feel has been unfair to them is beyond the pale.
For most, however, the pledge to a nation that has given them so much is a “no brainer.” The point is clear — a person pledges allegiance to that which they value or deem worthy. Allegiance has a companion word — alignment. We align ourselves squarely with what we have pledged our allegiance to. Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego’s allegiance to God and His truth caused them to align themselves with practical holiness — prayer and theological conviction.
Allegiance declared (Daniel 3:14-18). After Nebuchadnezzar had made an image to be publicly worshiped (Daniel 3:1ff), God’s men refused to fall down and worship the statue. Word spread that there was an intolerable insurrection in the camp (vv. 8-15). Furious with their rebellion, Nebuchadnezzar questioned their intentions. He was so arrogant that he said, “And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?” (v. 15). Little did he know that he had run up against the God of Israel, the Most High God, sovereign and all powerful.
God’s men minced no words when they openly declared their allegiance to God. Their response was breathtaking.
First, Nebuchadnezzar’s question barely deserved an answer — “Nebuchadnezzar, we don’t need to give you an answer to this question” (v. 16). In essence, they were not defensive or argumentative with Nebuchadnezzar. Second, when they did answer it was clear and crisp – we believe God will deliver us; but even if He doesn’t, we will not fall down and worship (vv. 17-18). Wow! Theirs was a supreme allegiance to God, an allegiance far deeper than self-preservation. Their allegiance was to God.
Persecution intensified (Ch. 3:19-23). Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego’s allegiance to God ran headlong into Nebuchadnezzar’s angry arrogance.
At first, it appeared that Nebuchadnezzar would win. He heated up the fiery furnace “seven times more than was customary” (v. 19) and threw them into the fire. So hot were the flames of the furnace that it killed some of the men who were attending the fire.
Allegiance to God means that God always delivers His people. Yes, God always delivers. Sometimes God delivers us from our fiery trials; at other times He delivers us through our fiery troubles (Isaiah 43:1-7). Sometimes God removes the thorns of life, at other times He does not (II Corinthians 12:1-10). Whatever God does He gives us grace to endure. He, Christ Himself, is with us in and through our fiery trials.
God honored (Ch. 3:24-26). And what were the outcomes of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego’s outspoken allegiance to God? First, God was with them in the fiery furnace (v. 25). Second, they came through unharmed (v. 27). Third, God was praised (vv. 28-30). Fourth, Nebuchadnezzar met his match in the God of Israel.
The ultimate purposes of our fiery trials are two-fold: God gets the glory; we receive the benefit of His presence. God designs these tests so that we might once again declare our allegiance to God so that others may see and receive Christ by faith; and so that we might be further sanctified in our walk with the Lord. B&R