Collect of the Week (Proper 14-C)
Almighty and merciful God, it is by Your grace that we live as Your people who offer acceptable service. Grant that we may walk by faith, and not by sight, in the way that leads to eternal life; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Daniel 3:4-5, 16-18, 23-25, 28 (From the Bible Story Lectionary)
4 And the herald proclaimed aloud, "You are commanded, O peoples, nations, and languages, 5 that when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, you are to fall down and worship the golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. 6 And whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace."
16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego answered and said to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17 If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king.1 18 But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up."
23 And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell bound into the burning fiery furnace. 24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, "Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?" They answered and said to the king, "True, O king." 25 He answered and said, "But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods."
28 Nebuchadnezzar answered and said, "Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set aside1 the king's command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God.
Catechism: The First Commandment
What is the First Commandment?
You shall have no other gods.
What does this mean?
We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things.
In the name of T Jesus.
In the well-known story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, we see a vivid example of faithfulness. When commanded by Nebuchadnezzar to worship the idol which he had set up, these faithful men of the LORD never wavered. Even under threat of death, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego knew that they must not have any other gods, for they knew the truth: the Lord our God, the Lord is one!
What is most remarkable about their faith, is the conviction of what they could not see. They knew what Nebuchadnezzar would do to them when they refused to bow down to his false god. They simply confessed the conviction of their faith: “If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king.”
Amazingly, they had no fear of any punishment that would fall upon as a result of being faithful. They feared an eternal punishment which would be incurred if they denied the true God. To put it plainly, they feared, loved, and trusted in the LORD and His promises, above all else. There simply never was an option.
Of course, the LORD did deliver them. From death, they were rescued and given life. And the life they were given served as a witness to the King Himself. Where death had been expected, the LORD had given life, and in keeping His promises, the LORD promised Himself to be the one true God, worthy of all praise—even the praise of Nebuchadnezzar himself.
Christian faith shares in the conviction of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Faith given by the Holy Spirit trusts the promises that are ours in Christ. True faith believes that whether we live or die, we are the LORD’s, and even if death would take our bodies, we will rejoice in the deliverance of the resurrection. And so, by the power of the Holy Spirit, through the conviction of faith in God’s promises, the Christian fears, loves, and trusts in the one true God above all things. By faith, the Christian keeps the First Commandment, and refuses to have any other god.
In the name of T Jesus. Amen.
Heavenly Father, I entrust my life into Your loving hands, knowing that You care for me always. Amen (TLSB, p. 1403).