Societal pressures weigh heavily on us to conform. It comes from peers, and increasingly from the government of a country which is supposedly “one nation under God.” Evidence does not support the claim. Laws that are in total rebellion against the precepts of the Lord are making their way through the channels that will make them mandatory. This is not new.
Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah faced the very same situation.
They were the religious minority, and that will inevitably lead to conflict. The opposition had powerful allies in high places, and they did not hesitate to seek to squash these men. All they stood for was on the line. Worship. Honor. Loyalty to their God. The mandate had come from the highest levels of government, and they were forced to make a brutally difficult decision. It was literally a matter of life and death. That is pressure!
Obey or face a ruthless execution. Those were their options, and the penalty for defiance was indescribably horrible. Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah refused, even though they knew exactly what that meant. It was a cost-counting that almost defies understanding. They weighed the choices and determined that they trusted the invisible God more than they feared the torture of men.
They were sentenced to death for their defiance. It came as no surprise when the authorities dragged them away to face the furious ruler and ultimately to suffer and die. It was the culmination of an intensely evil scheme against three men because they were dedicated to their God. They gave no thought to compromise or yielding because of the threat of harm. It was a genuine conspiracy to do them in, and it was working perfectly. Or so it seemed.
The execution failed. Oh, it was carried out but unsuccessfully. The three walked away unscathed. It had been a foolproof plan with one fatal flaw. The perpetrators had not taken into account the Lord’s involvement. Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah clung to God’s hand, trusting Him even in the midst of the legislated pressure that attempted to force them into conformity. He did not let them down. They had confidence in Him, and He came through.
Do we have such confidence? As our culture drifts further away from Godliness and biblical principles, where do we stand? With the Lord or with the culture? Will we bow down to the god of this world? Even if it becomes a life-or-death issue? No, it isn’t yet but who knows what the future holds? Now is the time to make that decision, before the pressure mounts anymore. Who do we trust?
Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah put all of their trust in the Lord, and He saved them even through a fiery furnace. We know them better as Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego. Read their episode in Daniel 3. Their God is our God, too. Trust Him. No matter what.