Franklin D. Roosevelt made this statement, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.” Perhaps he was reading and meditating upon Daniel 3 on that particular day:
King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, whose height was sixty cubits and its breadth six cubits. He set it up on the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon. Then King Nebuchadnezzar sent to gather the satraps, the prefects, and the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the justices, the magistrates, and all the officials of the provinces to come to the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up … And the herald proclaimed aloud, “You are commanded, O peoples, nations, and languages, that when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, you are to fall down and worship the golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. And whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace.” … Therefore at that time certain Chaldeans came forward and maliciously accused the Jews. They declared to King Nebuchadnezzar, “O king, live forever! You, O king, have made a decree, that every man who hears the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, shall fall down and worship the golden image. And whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast into a burning fiery furnace. There are certain Jews whom you have appointed over the affairs of the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These men, O king, pay no attention to you; they do not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” Then Nebuchadnezzar in furious rage commanded that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be brought. So they brought these men before the king. Nebuchadnezzar answered and said to them, “Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up? Now if you are ready when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, well and good. But if you do not worship, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?” Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 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. 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.”
It is not explicitly stated in the text, but I am sure these young men struggled with fear. They were about to lose everything dear to them in this life, and death by fire was on the very near horizon. They had no guarantee God would spare them from such a torturous fate. These believers must have been sorely tempted to compromise. After all, God would know they really weren’t worshiping the golden image in their hearts. God would know they were just being pragmatic. God might even consider them wise for losing a battle in order to win a war. And then there is the matter of confession, grace and forgiveness. God had forgiven many idolaters in the past, and God never changes. However, they feared God more than Nebuchadnezzar and his fire. They had fearful courage and recommitted themselves to worship properly, regardless of their fate.
What temptations to worship improperly lay before us today? Will we be asked to compromise in order to land a deal? Will we be asked to cheat on a paper or test in order to keep a friend? Will we be encouraged to give up our purity in order to keep that boy or girl? Will we “follow your heart” and communicate intimately with that special someone who is not our spouse? Will we seek to rid ourselves of that depressed spirit through medicine, drugs, alcohol, pornography, shopping or food? Will we keep our mouths shut and not share Christ because we desire to be socially acceptable? Temptations await us today in Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar (Satan) demands our allegiance. He promises us peace, pleasure and prosperity if we will only fear him and bow the knee like everyone else.
Will we hit the ground and worship the idol? Will we fall into line like everyone else? Will we love our peace, pleasure and prosperity more than Jesus? Will we fear Satan and man more than God?
No, not today! Today we will have fearful courage. We will fear God so much that we find rising within us the courage to worship rightly. However, in order for that to happen, we need to spend adequate time meditating on God’s greatness and communing with him in constant prayer. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and courage. Let’s go fear him now.