The careful reader cannot help but notice that Daniel is not present in chapter 3. Instead the focus falls on Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. We do not know if Daniel was away on business or if he was considered politically untouchable at this time no matter who had a jealous grudge against him. But whatever the reason, he is exempt, for the time being! His time of testing will come in the future (cf. Daniel 6). In this chapter the focus is on his three Hebrew friends who had been promoted in the province of Babylon (Daniel 2:49). From them we learn that sooner or later our allegiance to God will be tested.
Initially all three moved ahead in Babylon. They were the toast of the town. But eventually the time came when their faith was tested in such a way that there was no way out. This is how it will be with us as well. Our loyalty to King Jesus will be tested. When that time comes we must decide in advance how we will respond. Will we stand for what is true and right? Or will we compromise to escape trouble? Compromise often seems like the prudent way to go initially. Imagine how these three exiles could have rationalized bowing before the image. Just this once -- who will take our place -- we can do more good alive than dead! But if they had capitulated we would not be reading their inspiring story. Even if God had not rescued them from the furnace, their loyalty to God in the face of death would inspire others in a way their compromise would not. We are called to stand for what is right and to leave the results with God. He will sort out the details.
To be continued... next time some things we can learn from the actions of Nebuchadnezzar.