“Then Nebuchadnezzar flew into a rage and ordered that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be brought before him. When they were brought in,Nebuchadnezzar said to them, ‘Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you refuse to serve my gods or to worship the gold statue I have set up? I will give you one more chance to bow down and worship the statue I have made when you hear the sound of the musical instruments.f But if you refuse, you will be thrown immediately into the blazing furnace. And then what god will be able to rescue you from my power?’ Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied, ‘O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.’” Daniel 3:13-18
It seems nowadays we live in a culture of offense. To have a varying opinion or Faith from what society deems as the cultural norm is the reason for attack and accusation. Never have believers lived in such a volatile time for simply believing and applying God’s Word to their lives or have they? It’s easy to believe that we are living in the worst of times. However, looking at the martyrs of the Bible tells us we are not alone. There is one common theme between those martyred in the Bible and those slandered today. It is offense. Offense is sneaky in that it mimics the truth by creating a perceived insult through a planted seed. It’s important to understand that the word perceived means “judged by.” So, in essence, offense comes from a seed of misconception that is watered by judgment until it becomes a root of bitterness. Offense does not care for reasons or explanations or even another point of view. It holds no compassion or empathy for the offender. It is like a dog with a bone gnawing on the situation, so it has a reason to attack. It’s so important to know how to discern when offense comes calling because it is so easy to become ensnared in its trap. Offense is easier than communication because it allows us to stick to our story of victimhood rather than truth. Understand that there are two types of offense, one type is when you are responsible for mistreating someone, and the other type are those who THINK they have been mistreated but actually were not. There is a marked difference between the two. Those who think they have been mistreated receive their perceptions from hearsay (gossip) and twisting circumstances to validate their misconceptions.
Truth has no place in that particular world of offense and many times as followers of Christ we want to combat offense with truth, but in reality, we don’t have to defend ourselves at all. When people think they have been mistreated, they will not be in a position to receive the truth and so in attempting to defend yourself with the truth is like casting pearls before swine. Holy Spirit is the one who can convict, not us.
Let’s look at the story of Shadrach. Meshach and Abednego as a perfect example. King Nebuchadnezzar erected a statue to be worshiped. When officials told on the Jews were not worshipping the statue or the king’s gods for that matter, Nebuchadnezzar became angry. Look at how the spies set up the offense, “12 But there are some Jews out there—Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, whom you have put in charge of Babylonian affairs—who have defied you, refusing to serve your gods or to worship the gold statue you set up.” Using words that incense such as “defied” and “refusing” set the stage for anger and offense. First also was the reminder that the King put these “rebels” in charge. In just one verse, three honorable young men were considered rebels and the king deemed unfit for putting them in positions of power in the first place. Nebuchadnezzar fell into the trap of offense quickly flying into a rage without even speaking to the young men. Finally, when Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were placed before the King, they were already at a disadvantage for the conclusion about their character had already been decided.
When King Nebuchadnezzar challenged the young men before him, he offered another chance to bow before him so they would be saved from the fiery furnace. In reality, this was no compromise at all. Rather than trying to understand and respect their reasoning, King Nebuchadnezzar gave the same option as before; do what I want or suffer. Their answer was perfect; “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied to him, ‘King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 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. 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.” Are we that brave when faced with similar circumstances? As I read and reread this story, I felt Holy Spirit impressing upon me the need to release my own response to Him. It is human nature to defend ourselves when we are faced with false accusations and allegations. We desire to defend ourselves and speak the truth when faced with deception. We are not called to defend ourselves against this type of offense, however, and we are not called to tolerate the demands of the accuser either. Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego showed much spiritual maturity in saying that they didn’t need to defend themselves in the matter.They trusted that God would deliver them and even said that if God decided otherwise they would never submit to the King’s law. This is an important lesson in spiritual maturity for all of us. When we see that God delivered the young men from the fire, we assume that God will do the same for us. While this is true in certain circumstances, we must be ready to cook a little longer at times. God can use the furnace to bring out impurities within us and scoop them out so we can be refined as gold. Either way, whether the mountain moves or it doesn’t God is still the same, and we are not to deter from our Faith in Him. Sometimes others will assassinate our character, and we have to let them believe what they choose.
When we look at how Nebuchadnezzar became even more infuriated in Daniel 3:19, “Nebuchadnezzar was so furious with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego that his face became distorted with rage” we see that the fruit of offense had already taken root. The King then ordered that the furnace be heated seven times hotter. In Babylonian mythology, there were seven demons, and by heating the furnace seven times, hotter this became a ritualistic sacrifice. Here’s the thing, when people are influenced by the Enemy in their responses it often works to their own demise. A hotter furnace would make death come quicker, and a hotter furnace would make God’s deliverance even more miraculous. In essence, King Nebuchadnezzar and his rage promoted that which he was intent on destroying. The result was that this miraculous exchange changed the heart of this angry King and he promoted Shadrach, Meshack, and Abednego rather than punish again. Still, the King had not discarded his other idols but just added God to the list of all powerful deities.
Offense is an idol for many, as it allows them to stay in their role of victim, when in reality they are the perpetrator, inflicting punishment that is not proportionate to the perceived “crime.” King Nebuchadnezzar showed his own character when trying to assassinate the young men who stood for their faith. He also showed emotional instability being tossed to and fro by the wave of gossip and then the miraculous. Through all of it, Shadrack, Meshach, and Abednego did not feel the need to defend themselves and let God handle the matter the way he saw fit. They knew that making excuses would ruin the testimony. They also kept their hearts clean and did not let bitterness ruin the work God was doing. There are times when we too just have to accept being thrown into the furnace knowing that either way God will show up as our Defender.
Prayer Starter: Lord, I place before You these curses, accusations, and gossip and cover them with the blood of Christ. You are my Defender and my Healer. You are Mighty and know me. I bless those who have cursed me and viciously attacked me without reason; I pray that no offense would take root in my heart, rip it out and replace it with forgiveness and mercy. I thank You for Your Mercy and Forgiveness in my own life. In Jesus’ Name, I pray, Amen.