I’ve learned from personal experience the importance of being prepared to fight distractions from worship and idols clamoring for my worship. And these disturbances come in all shapes, sizes, and personalities, right? That’s because the enemy will do anything to stop us from worshiping the One True God. He can’t stop us from believing in God, but if he can distract us from bowing to Him, that’s a victory he greatly enjoys.
The bar is set quite high when it comes to not caving to idols or distractions from worship. If anyone could’ve qualified for a “grace-pass”, it would’ve been Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
(Abednego is another one of those people I’m going to hunt down in heaven so I can apologize for the bazillion times his name was mispronounced. Actually, that’s not really his name. Did you know that their names are really Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, and the Babylonian chief changed them? So how annoying to be forced to take a name no one could pronounce! I digress.) Anyway, it’s hard to be in church at all and not know about these three amigos.
In case you don’t remember how this all got started, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, took over Judah and demanded that everyone bow to his golden statue or face certain death (Daniel 3:1-30)! And Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused.
So what happened?
“Nebuchadnezzar . . . said to them, ‘Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up? . . . if you do not worship [it], you will immediately be cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire; and what god is there who can deliver you out of my hands?’
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, ‘O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up’” (Daniel 3:14-18, emphasis mine).
Not only did the three not cave to the king’s threatening command to bow to his idol, but they responded with absolutely no hesitation or fear. How could they do that?
They knew their God! Yes, they knew God had saved them from one of Nebuchadnezzar’s previous threats (Daniel 2:17-49). But most of all, the God they loved and worshiped was the very same worthy God regardless of whether He saved them or not!
Of course, we all know how this dramatic story ends. An infuriated Nebuchadnezzar heats the furnace seven-times hotter than usual, and ties up and tosses in the three friends (with the heat killing the men who throw them in). Then God not only saves Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, but they are joined by a fourth man “with the appearance like a son of the gods”(v.25), and all were completely untouched and unharmed by the flames.
How does Nebuchadnezzar respond? By decreeing that no one speak against the Most High God of these men! “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego” (v.28)! I believe this truly was God’s greater goal – the powerful glory brought to His name as a result! And for all time!
(I wish Nebuchadnezzar had remembered who God proved Himself to be that day and stayed committed to leading His country in new direction as a result. Babylon is in modern day Iraq.)
Thankfully, the things that threaten our worship loyalty don’t remotely resemble an evil king or a fiery furnace. (Please pray for those whose does!) And our potential idols don’t usually come right out and say, “Worship me, or I’ll kill you,” or even, “I’m trying to distract you from worship! Look at me instead of God!”
So the main thing? Like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, we need to never stop growing to know and love God more. The closer we are to Jesus, the more prepared we’ll be for unexpected moments of pressure to declare without wavering, This is who my God is, and I will not bow to you instead. I will not give you the time, attention, loyalty, or piece of my heart that God alone deserves.
We must be on the alert to recognize the endless, well-disguised idols that are clamoring for our misplaced attention and bowed knee. Good things and bad. Important and worthless. In church and out. Satan has a knack for knowing what will distract each of us from God’s throne. We need to know the Biblical truths to combat them, and pray for the wisdom, determination, and courage to say, no!
And considering Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego further, it helps to have close friends with the same convictions that stand side-by-side to encourage one another in their faithfulness to God. (It’s better to not have to face life’s furnaces alone!)
The best news?
God’s love never stops drawing us and compelling us. His patience and grace extend way into our seeking of Him and our worship of Him. He longs for us to lift our eyes off of ourselves and all the distractions and fix our eyes and heart on Him. That’s where the passion and strength to remain a loyal worshiper come from.
“My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise” (Psalm 57:7)!
And the response of those close enough to observe your victory? “Blessed be the God of <your name>!”
What do you think are the most common idols or distractions from worshiping God?
“Who do you say that I am?”
Why Should I Know His name?
14 Lies That Will Sabotage Your Worship Life
Is the God I say I worship on Sunday my everyday God?
Why God Wants Us to be Intentional About Remembering
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