When God brought Israel out of Egypt and settled them in Canaan, they were there to be a light to the nations (Isa. 49:6). Once their light was too faint to be seen, He removed them from the land. He did not extinguish the light, but rather He moved it that it might be more visible. The light that should have been burning in Samaria and Jerusalem would now burn in Assyria and Babylon.
The book of Daniel is a book about God’s people in captivity. Thus, the light should be evident when you read its contents. Location does not change the purpose of God’s people; it only changes the audience that sees them fulfill it. Knowing this brings even greater clarity to the decision made by Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego not to worship the image set up by the king (Dan. 3:12). That’s why they were in Babylon in the first place. They were three bright lights that were meant to shine and show the glory of God in the king’s palace.
Make no mistake about it, this is a text about the power and place of worship in the life of God’s servants. The battle between good and evil or between light and darkness has always centered on who or what receives man’s worship and adoration. These three godly, young men were compelled to worship God and not to bow before images fashioned with men’s hands (Exo. 20:1-6). Even when threatened with fire, their worship was reserved for God.
From this text, we note that
- the choice to worship is a declaration of God’ supreme authority;
- even the slightest compromise veils His glory;
- true worship will be noticed by others; and
- worship is not based simply upon what God has done, but also what He can do.