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3:16.5 To Do What is Right or What is Smart? Daniel 3:16, part 1
To do what is right or what is smart? Have you ever been faced with a situation where those seem to be your only two options? You know what’s right, you know what God requires of you and yet that doesn’t seem to be the wisest course of action. Maybe it’s a matter of doing the right thing, or not doing the wrong thing. And while you know what you should do, at the same time you are doing a quick cost analysis in your head: "If I do this, what will it cost me in terms of friends, or money or job security? Should I speak up or remain silent on an issue?" If you are like me I’m sure that’s how you’ve discovered that, sometimes, silence is golden; and then other times, it’s just plain yellow.
And that question - “To do what was right or to do what was smart?” - is, and was, the question at the heart of today’s 3:16.
A bit of background for those of you who haven’t been keeping up with this devotional or you’re a new subscriber: over the past month or so, we have been looking together at a variety of chapter 3 verse 16's throughout the Bible. Of course, we started with what many would call, the best known of the 3:16's, John 3:16. From there we moved to Acts 3:16 and then to the books of Joshua and Ephesians. This week, we are going to be looking at Daniel 3:16 where we read this, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied to the king, ‘O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter’” NIV.
Let me start by telling you a little more of the larger story: These three young men were only doing what they thought was right and now they were too pay the ultimate price. Because they had just disobeyed a royal decree: they were to be put to death, and not just any death, they were to suffer a nasty death.
For many of their Jewish contemporaries, they had made the right choice, but honestly, I’m not so sure anyone thought they picked the smart choice. I mean if you had to be sentenced to death this wasn’t one of the ways you’d want to choose. They were to be thrown into an immense furnace used for firing pottery and apparently the occasional execution. And in the king’s anger, he ordered the furnace be heated 7 times hotter than usual. Not a situation that anyone would want to be presented with, and yet, there they were. I’m sure at that point they thought of those famously great words of Yogi Berra – who once said, “The Future ain’t what it used to be.”
Our story, our Biblical account, this morning happened after Babylon had conquered Israel and the Babylonian King, a man by the name of Nebuchadnezzar, had ordered that a the most promising young captives from Jerusalem be brought to his palace to be his personal slaves.
And this particular account is about three of those young men whose names were, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. I know of one person who used to call them Your Shack, My Shack and Little bungalow, and I had a professor at Bible College who was in the habit of referring to them as Shake the Bed, Make the Bed and in the Bed you Go. And my old friend, Reggie Dabbs, use to call them Shadrach, Meshach and a Big Negro. But their names, at least the names you would know them by were Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Those however were not the names they were born with. Those names were Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah,
But part of the slavery process was to erase everything about who they had been, so their birth names were taken away and they were given new, Babylonian, names, and that’s when they became Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Of course, that wasn’t just how it worked 3000 years ago: how many of you remember the scene from the mini-series, Roots, when Kunta Kinta was told that his name was Toby?
Medication: A Merry Heart
A LETTER FROM A COUNTRY BUMPKIN AT BOOT CAMP:
Dear Ma & Pa:
Am well. Hope you are. Tell brother Walt & Brother Elmer the Marine Corps beats working for old man Minch by a mile.
Tell them to join up quick before maybe all of the places are filled. I was restless at first because you got to stay in bed till nearly 6 a.m., but am getting so I like to sleep late. Tell Walt & Elmer all you do before breakfast is smooth your cot and shine some things. No hogs to slop, feed to pitch, mash to mix, wood to split, fire to lay. Practically nothing. Men got to shave but it is not so bad, they git warm water.
Breakfast is strong on trimmings like fruit juice, cereal, eggs, bacon, etc...but kind of weak on chops, potatoes, ham, steak, fried okra, pie and other regular food. But tell Walt and Elmer you can always sit between two city boys that live on coffee. Their food plus yours holds you till noon, when you get fed again. It's no wonder these city boys can't walk much.
We go on “route” marches, which the Drill Instructor says are long walks to harden us. If he thinks so, it is not my place to tell him different. A “route march” is about as far as to our mailbox at home. Then the city guys get sore feet and we all ride back in trucks. The country is nice, but awful flat. The Drill Instructor is like a schoolteacher. He nags some. The Capt. is like the school board. Majors & Colonels just ride around & frown. They don't bother you none. This next will kill Walt & Elmer with laughing.
I keep getting medals for shooting. I don't know why. The bulls-eye is near as big as a chipmunk and don't move. And it ain't shooting at you, like the Higgett boys at home. All you got to do is lie there all comfortable and hit it. You don't even load your own cartridges. They come in boxes. Be sure to tell Walt & Elmer to hurry & join before other fellers get into this setup & come stampeding in.
Your loving daughter,
P.S. Speaking of shooting, enclosed is $200 towards a new barn roof & ma’s teeth. The city boys shoot craps, but not very good.
St Mark’s Community Church, Janesville
New Beginnings Church, New Ulm
Verse of the Week: Philippians 4:8
Today’s readings: Psalms 32, 51,86 & 122