March 7, 2022
1 Peter 2:13-17 NIV
13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, 14 or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. 15 For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. 16 Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. 17 Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.
As you might imagine, I got quite a lot of response to yesterday’s Daily Text on the matter of submitting to the authority of the government. It was mostly respectful, and I appreciated it all. I try to respond to everyone who writes me but sometimes it is too much. Yesterday was such a day. The biggest question and pushback most people have with texts like these centers around oppressive government authority. Certainly Peter was writing into just such a situation.
From Genesis to Revelation, the people of God have a long history with oppressive, wicked national leaders. Biblical history is littered with Egyptian Pharaohs, Babylonian Kings, and Roman Emperors. Everyone wants to know how God’s people should deal with them, especially when they try to force us to turn against God or violate his commandments. And what about laws that go against our faith? Do we just go along and get along?
Of course not. The best way to answer questions raised by the Word of God is to delve deeper into the Word of God.
Go with me to ancient Babylon (Daniel 3):
13 Furious with rage, Nebuchadnezzar summoned Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. So these men were brought before the king, 14 and Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up? 15 Now when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?”
16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”
19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was furious with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and his attitude toward them changed. He ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual 20 and commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. 21 So these men, wearing their robes, trousers, turbans and other clothes, were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace. 22 The king’s command was so urgent and the furnace so hot that the flames of the fire killed the soldiers who took up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, 23 and these three men, firmly tied, fell into the blazing furnace.
24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?”
They replied, “Certainly, Your Majesty.”
25 He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”
26 Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!”
So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire, 27 and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.
28 Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.
Stay with me friends of Jesus. We are on a journey here. We aren’t there yet. We are moving toward the deep end.
Jesus, you are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. Thank you for being our faithful friend in the fire, standing with us in the flames. Thank you for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Thank you for the way they honored Nebuchadnezzar and at the same time worshipped you. Holy Spirit, would you train me in this way of humble respect and unquenchable worship? Praying in Jesus’ name, Amen.
What do you see in the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego? What did Nebuchadnezzar see?
For the Awakening,