14 Nebuchadnezzar responded and said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up?
15 Now if you are ready, at the moment you hear the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery and bagpipe and all kinds of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, very well. But if you do not worship, you will immediately be cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire; and what god is there who can deliver you out of my hands?”
16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter.
17 If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king.
18 But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

On February 15, 2015, 21 Coptic Christians were beheaded by ISIS on a beach near Tripoli for refusing to deny Christ. This week, we have been looking at groups of people throughout the Bible who responded to God in fickle and faithless ways. In today’s passage, we read about a group of men who honored God, even when they faced the threat of death. For the 21 Coptic Christians in Tripoli, they not only faced the threat of death, but they also faced death itself. Yet their martyrdom did not put an end to the spread of their message of the gospel. In fact, it has caused many to reflect on the truth of the gospel and the value of perseverance for the sake of the gospel for some time after their death.

In a 2017 article, family members of many of the deceased shared their pride in the endurance of their deceased loved ones. One wife said that her husband "kept the faith, and was martyred in the name of Christ. His faith was very strong. I'm proud of him. He has lifted our heads up and honored us and all the Christians." Another family member added: "I'm very happy that my brother is in heaven with Jesus now. I loved my brother when he was alive on the earth, but now I love him more than before. He was martyred in the name of Jesus Christ."

Similar to this group of martyrs, today’s passage gives the account of three men faced with death, if they refused to deny the God of Israel. Rather than reject the True and Living God, these men were willing to face any persecution for His sake. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego told Nebuchadnezzar that they knew that God was able to save them, but even if He did not save them, they would never deny Him and worship false gods.

We may view the faith of these men and the Coptic Christians as extraordinary and something that only few can aspire to reach. However, Christ has called all of His followers to confess the truth about Him faithfully, no matter the consequences (Matthew 10:28). God uses the faithful perseverance of His people to spur many on to greater faith.

• When was a time you felt great pressure to deny the truth about Christ?

• How does the community of the church bolster your confidence in proclaiming the truth of the gospel?

• Ask God to keep you faithful to Him, no matter the cost. Pray that you would be a person He would use to spur others on to greater faith.

[1] "21 Coptic Christians Beheaded by ISIS Honored for Refusing to Deny Christ." The Christian Post. Accessed March 27, 2019. https://www.christianpost.com/news/21-coptic-christians-beheaded-by-isis-honored-refusing-deny-christ-175128/.