Bow or Burn
The year was 605 bc. The captivity of the Jews had begun and under a tyrannical King Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian invasion of Israel would end its status as a nation. As captives were taken, one of the first goals was to identify the youngest and brightest young men of Israel and place them in social sensitivity training so they could be assimilated into Babylonian culture.
This training would consist of changing the diet, names, language and literature for re-education from Israel to Babylon. Part of the goal would be to make the captives eventually forget the history and memory of Israel. After all, in the minds of the conquerors, Israel had not always been a model nation, so even though the good would be forgotten, historical revisionism was acceptable in order to erase the memory of the bad.
This process would not take place overnight as a 3-year time period would make them ready to serve in the government of the king. The ultimate objective was to change their identities from Israelites to good behaving Babylonians. We know 4 of these young men identified in the bible as Daniel or Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (Daniel 1).
We get a glimpse of their character when they refuse to eat the king’s meat. It is interesting that the conversation about the food does not turn into a yelling match but is a respectful request from Daniel and is met with a positive response and result. This will be the pattern throughout the book from these boys; no demand for rights but requests to a heathen king that showed allegiance to a higher ruler.
One of the most interesting accounts is found in chapter 3 of Daniel when a 90-foot statue is built with the requirement to bow down. Nebuchadnezzar likely had this built to test the allegiance of those who were serving in his realm. It was a simple request; when the music plays, bow down. Not a big deal, right? After all, everyone else in the crowd is bowing. It became a big deal to these Hebrew boys because they knew that bowing was more than a physical act. It meant kneeling to the king's gods and by doing so would violate their obedience to the living God. If you know the story, they are once again respectful to the king but are thrown into a brick-making oven that was heated seven times beyond its normal temperature. They are rescued by an angel which is probably an Old Testament appearance of the Messiah. The king is amazed, and God is glorified. End of story, right? Not really.
Think of America today; we are being asked to bow to the cultural re-education of morality, history, the original foundation of government and lawless crowds who have no respect and think more yelling can solve the issue. The only problem is that the church is yelling too. And if they are not yelling, are also “taking the knee” to support those who demand we bow to an agenda that really has nothing to do with the betterment of our culture or support of justice but will eventually lead us to anarchy.
Some of you may have seen the article about Church of the Highlands and Pastor Chris Hodges. This is one of the largest churches in America with a great reputation. We have learned much from them and love Pastor Chris and his ministry. Chris happened to “like” some posts by Charlie Kirk, President of the conservative group “Turning Point USA.”
As a result, the Birmingham Board of Education canceled some long term leases the church has had for years in high schools for its 20 campuses across Alabama, and the Birmingham Housing authority severed ties with the church and its health clinic that was providing free services to those in public housing. It becomes painfully obvious that it’s no longer about helping people but keeping the narrative. If you don’t bow, you will be burned.
This is significant because there are Christians across America who think that taking the knee for equality is simply bowing in support of someone who was treated unjustly. It is not. There is now a greater purpose than support for justice. It’s about a cultural re-education of language, history, and motivation. What is to be done?
1. Remember, the Hebrews had to learn the language and culture of Babylon, not so they would change but be able to speak intelligently in a foreign land. That’s a good thing. If you haven’t noticed, we are not living in the America originally founded but in a foreign land. If we are going to have influence, we need to understand what language is being spoken today and be able to apply the language of a living God and communicate effectively. Essentially, we must be spiritually bi-lingual.
2. Read the book of Daniel. The interactions of these young men were always respectful to those who were in authority over them. I’ve said it before, but we could take some advice from those in the bible who were ruled by heathens. It would be a shock to some believers to grasp that it was God who set up ungodly government to rule over godly people. God was not concerned with that as long as His people would always look to him for advice and not put their trust in men.
3. The potential to be thrown into the fire will always be in front of us. This is the time to ask God for special courage. We will never have influence and be able to speak for the Lord as long as we are bowing with everyone else, every time the cultural music plays. One day every knee will bow to Jesus when they see His glory and majesty revealed to the world. Let’s make sure we’re not bowing to some other agenda when he appears. Otherwise, we may find ourselves in a literal fire. Perish the thought…