This week were go "into the fire"- the fire that the faithful ones Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego are thrown into. It is a story of idols vs God, of blindness vs sight, and common sense vs amazement. Our verse is this:
Dan 3:16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter.
Now, for a change I used the KJV version here, and we'll get to why later. But first, let's backtrack our way to the verse.
The Names: When Daniel and his companions proved themselves to Nebuchadnezzar in the first chapter of Daniel, he was so impressed that he put them in high advisory positions. Ignoring the fact that they had been blessed BY God and intuiting that they were blessed by A god, he then named them, according to Donald Gill's commentary, after the four main gods of Babylon. Daniel, whose Hebrew name meant God My Judge, became Belteshazzar, "Bel's Prince". Hananiah, "God Has favored, became Shadrach, "Inspired by the sun god"; Mishael, "Who (is)What God (is)", became Meshach,"who is what Shak (the earth goddess) is?"; and Azariah, "God has helped", became Abed-Nego, "servant of the shining fire". This is the blindness: Nebuchadnezzar thought by pasting pagan names and pagan dedications over the four, he could take advantage of the divine blessing they had without really caring what deity it was blessing them.
This strikes me as a lot like mainstream denominational Christianity. Not just the obvious catholic corollaries, like saints pasted over pagan gods and Mary pasted over Astarte, but churches like the one in St Louis which will be hosting a conference on accepting LGBT as normal members, despite the fact that God calls it a sin and in irony that the church in question is a Presbyterian branch that broke off BECAUSE the main church was getting too liberal... Everywhere in this world you can find examples of what I call "Seventh Heaven" churches, from the TV show where the leading man was supposedly pastor of a church and at no point did you really ever hear God mentioned. Just paste "christianity" over the face of it and they will come, but were are totally PC and acceptable to all schools of thought.
That isn't acceptable to God, and it wasn't to these three, as we'll see.
So the day came that ol' Nebby (this is just too long a name!) decided to erect an idol, in his honor, for everyone to worship:
Dan 3:1 Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof six cubits: he set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon.
In the Bee Gees song Edge Of The Universe, they sing, "I am ten feet tall, but I'm only three feet wide..." And this is kinda like that to the extreme. This image in modern terms was 90 feet tall and nine feet in circumference. So it was basically a tall pole on which an idol was set at the top. Maybe the whole thing was overlaid with gold, but the whole thing wasn't gold. Gill calculates that if we assume the pole was circular, such a solid gold post would require well over 8 million pounds of gold- and cost on today's market about 150 BILLION dollars. Dura was a plain within the walls of the city, in the southeast corner. Now, he sent out the command that, when he struck up the band (literally), everyone had to drop what they were doing and worship the idol. Apparently Bel didn't mind his king "tooting his own horn", like Our God does.
Needless to say, our fellows ignored the command. Now Daniel was apparently so high up in the king's favor that they dared not accuse him; but the jealous Chaldean priests quickly accuse, S, M, and A of not bowing to the image.
And boy did that enrage Nebby- who had dedicated the three TO those gods.
Dan 3:15 Now if ye be ready that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer,(See what I told you about striking up the band?) and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the image which I have made; well: but if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?
And here we get to our verse, and the reason why I used this version:
...we are not careful to answer thee in this matter...
Most versions translate this to, "we aren't required to give you an answer." I dug into the word careful, and it landed with a word that basically meant, "in a hurry" or "eager". But in the modifications taking it to the word actually used, it conveys the idea of "necessity"- thus the idea of there was no need to answer this- actually, no need for debate on this. The trio explains this by saying, "If our God WANTS to deliver us, YOU, Nebby, can't do anything about it. And if He doesn't, we STILL aren't bowing down to your gods."
And Nebby blows his top, because it isn't so much that his gods have been insulted, but HE has been insulted. In naming them his way, in asking them to worship his way, he was in his mind creating super-intelligent "yes men" who would validate him and bring glory to HIM- just like the Great Pole a' Fun was supposed to. And here were these three, in whom he had invested SO much, telling him the last thing he wanted to hear- there was someone GREATER than him.
Now, why do I draw the inference it was all about him, and not his "faith in his gods"? Follow what happens. The trio are thrown into the fire- a fire stoked so hot, that the men who tossed them in got burned to death! And yet:
Dan 3:24 Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonied, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king.
Dan 3:25 He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.
Seeing this miracle, he called the trio out. They weren't burned- not even smoky- and Nebby immediately switched sides:
Dan 3:28 Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king's word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God.
Dan 3:29 Therefore I make a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill: because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort.
Now, look back in time to when Elijah called Jezebel's priests of Baal together so God could flash fry the sacrifice and Israel would kill them all. Jezebel, devout in her faith to the defeated gods, commanded that Elijah be killed by the next business day. She didn't go, wow, look what Elijah's God can do, as Nebby did. Jezebel was sold out to her false faith; Nebby was sold out to himself, until he saw something HE couldn't top.
And here's the thing in this story: Jesus was not with the people bowing when the band played. He wasn't in some comfortable chair next to Nebby, telling him what he wanted to here. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego knew where He would be- in the fire lit by not compromising, WITH THEM. So, is your Church in the fire, or listening to the music?
One other question: What is a "sackbut"? Apparently, a horn of some type. Glad they changed THAT one.