The world’s tallest statue of an American hero is at the southern edge of Huntsville, Texas—a dazzling 77-feet-tall image of Sam Houston, composed of 30 tons of concrete and steel.
It is impressive but nowhere near as imposing as Nebuchadnezzar’s statue on the plain of Dura in Babylon, which trumped Houston’s monument in both size and materials. Nebuchadnezzar’s statue was 90-feet-tall, besting Sam Houston’s by 13 feet. And Houston’s concrete and steel couldn’t hold a candle to Nebuchadnezzar’s solid gold.
Travelers stop by the side of the road to gawk at Sam. They look up, but they don’t bow down. They stare, but they don’t worship.
That wouldn’t be good enough for Nebuchadnezzar. He christened his ego-serving shrine with a doozy of a dedication ceremony.
“He ordered all the important leaders in the province, everybody who was anybody, to the dedication ceremony of the statue. They all came for the dedication, all the important people, and took their places before the statue that Nebuchadnezzar had erected.
A herald then proclaimed in a loud voice: ‘Attention, everyone! Every race, color, and creed, listen! When you hear the band strike up—all the trumpets and trombones, the tubas and baritones, the drums and cymbals—fall to your knees and worship the gold statue that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. Anyone who does not kneel and worship shall be thrown immediately into a roaring furnace’” (Daniel 3:2–6 msg).
Three Jewish teenagers—Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego—refused to bend the knee to this gold giant! Some Jew-haters tattled to the king, and he was furious! He summoned the three and gave them an ultimatum: worship my statue or burn in my furnace.
They gave him their answer:
“If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it . . . But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up” (Daniel 3:17–18).
That did it! Up went the heat, and in went Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
“One, two, three, four.”
Rubbing his eyes, King Nebuchadnezzar counted again.
“One, two, three—four!”
“Didn’t we throw three men into the furnace?” he asked.
“Yes, Your Majesty.”
“Well, look! I see four men, unbound, walking around in the fire, and they aren’t even hurt by the flames!”
“Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego come out!” he shouted. Not a hair of their heads was singed, their clothes were unscorched, and they didn’t even smell of smoke! (Daniel 3:24–27).
They weren’t in the furnace alone: “One, two, three—four!” the king counted. “And the fourth looks like a god!”
Faithful regardless! “If God rescues us, we won’t bow to the image,” they said. “And if God doesn’t rescue us, we still won’t bow to the image.”
Sometimes God rescues; sometimes he doesn’t. Hebrews 11:33–34 names people of faith who were rescued: they conquered kingdoms, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of flames, escaped the sword, were powerful in battle. Then, without a break, verses 35–38 cite people of faith who were not rescued: they were tortured, flogged, chained, put in prison, stoned, sawed in two, persecuted, mistreated.
If God rescues you from problems, be faithful. If he doesn’t, still be faithful. God honors faithfulness. Now or later.