A Peculiar People

Daniel 3:12; There are certain Jews whom thou hast set over the affairs of the province of Babylon, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; these men, O king, have not regarded thee: they serve not thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.

The young man said derisively, “Oh, don’t ask Jeff to go because he’s a Christian!  He’s too much of a goody-goody to go with us!”  The others laughed and rolled their eyes as Jeff walked away without comment.  This dramatic scenario is perhaps a very common form of persecution that many Christians have had to endure here in American society.  Certainly, this “mocking-type” persecution is far easier to endure than the more “physical-type” of persecution that Christians might endure in say for instance, China, India, or the Middle East.  The main point here that the follower of Jesus is different from the norm, and for many, being different (or peculiar) is simply not good.

In regards to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, they were very different than the mainstream people of Babylon.  To the Babylonians, these men were somewhat abnormal in their ways.  This oddness of the Jews obviously infuriated some and this eventually led to a severe form of persecution.  And as we find further in God’s Word, their attempt at teaching these Jews a lesson resulted in great glory for God. 

One can actually hear the derisiveness and fury imbedded in the words of the tattle-tales who came to the king to give their complaint against the three Jews.  “Oh King live forever, these Jews that you have set up as leaders of our great nation, they do not hold you in any regard at all as they do whatever they want regardless of your decree.  Furthermore,

they do not serve your gods nor worship your golden image!  They are shamefully different and arrogant in their willful disobedience!”  I am paraphrasing and adding to their dialogue of course.  But it is clear that this would have been very close to their summation to the king.

Yes, they were different.  Yes, they would not bow to the image or serve the gods of Babylon.  Yes, they only had one God and according to the belief of the Babylonians, the God the Jews served was apparently not strong enough to protect the Jews from the mighty Babylonians who had so very recently conquered them.  To the Babylonians, this would have meant that their gods were stronger.  However, the Babylonians needed to know that their way of thinking was seriously flawed.  In fact, there is only one God and it was He who delivered the Jews into the hands of the Babylonians.  He did this not only to bring judgment for sin but also to bring many into the knowledge that He is the one true Creator God.

Imagine how gleeful the tattle-tales must have been when the three Jews were marched to the furnace.  “That will teach them!”  They must have mocked.  One can almost see them carrying picket signs and shouting, “If they won’t turn, they must burn!”  Or even perhaps, “Bow or Burn!”  They expected a barbeque but what they actually got was very astonishing.  Three went into the furnace and then a Fourth showed up.  Realizing that something totally unexpected and supernatural was occurring, the king of Babylon called them back out.

 I would have loved to have been able to see the faces of the tattle-tales when the three Jews walked back out of the furnace, un-burned, un-singed, unharmed, and totally unaffected.  The end result is that God received great glory and the mouths of the tattle-tales were shut.  The peculiar followers of Yahweh God had shown the Babylonians a very important lesson.  That lesson is simply that the Jews were a peculiar people for good reason.  What is the good reason?  The reason is that Yahweh is truly God and there is no other!  Enough said.