In the NFL, there is a term given to the team with the loudest fans called the “12th man.” The 12th man doesn’t suit up. They don’t play a single down. But they can inspire their team to come from behind and win the game, even when the odds were against them.
In Daniel 3, we read about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, three Hebrew teenage-boys taken captive by Babylon and enlisted in the King’s service. Although in a foreign land, God was with them and they excelled in every way and were made advisors to the King. Yet, they were surrounded by people who would test their commitment to God continually.
You may work in an environment where there are few Christians, with those who have a sliding moral scale, and who challenge your faith in God directly or indirectly. This may come as a surprise to you but you may be right where God wants you. It’s when you are tested and stand your ground that others recognize God in your life.
Although the Babylonian empire stood for everything God required His people not to do, these three young men found a way to work for the King and not compromise their faith. God calls us to “…be holy, for I (God) am holy.” 1 Peter 1:16. To be holy is “to be set apart.” This means we live according to God’s rules and not the rules of this world.
One day King Nebuchadnezzar decides to build a statue of himself, 90 feet tall, made of gold and orders all his “upper-management” to come and worship the image. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are among the crowd.
In this moment they are faced with a choice. Do they join in with the crowd and worship the statue, which was forbidden by God? Or do they refuse to bow down and risk losing their position, privileges and possibly their life?
This is where excuse-making leads to compromise and a watered-down faith. They could have rationalized the situation to ease their convictions with the following excuses.
#1 He’s just asking us to bow down, not renounce our God?
“You shall have no other gods before me.” Exodus 20:3
To worship the statue was the equivalent of accepting and acknowledging there is another God worthy to be worshipped. *Spoiler Alert: There is no other God.
#2 It would just be this once, and we would declare our sorrow and regret afterward.
The Pharisees were rebuked by Jesus for false repentance in Luke 3 because they used repentance to please the desires of the flesh.
#3 The king made us do it.
In Genesis 3, Eve told God that it was the serpent who made her eat from the forbidden tree. Sin is always a choice.
#4 Everyone else is doing it.
“You shall not fall in with the many to do evil,” Exodus 23:3
Wrong is wrong no matter how many people are doing it.
When we make a habit of faith-filled decisions in the small things, the big things are easier. Leading up to this event, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego took their stand when offered food from the king’s table that violated God’s dietary laws. They choose not to defile themselves and remain set apart for God.
While everyone else bowed down, they refused to worship the statue. The king ordered them to be bound with ropes and thrown into a fiery furnace as punishment. Obedience to God will come with a price.
It was not until the three Hebrew boys were thrown into the maxed out fiery furnace those watching discovered what Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego already knew, the 12th man was with them!
When it looked like the end for these three, the 12th man showed up! It’s when we are put to the test and stand our ground that God supernaturally makes Himself known to those around us and delivers us from our troubles. The King acknowledged that only the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego could rescue them like this.
Today we have the Holy Spirit with us always. He is our “12th man.” John 14:26explains that the Holy Spirit is given to us as a helper. He enables and empowers us to stand for truth and to live a godly life. But first, we must acknowledge our need for Him. He will not be “barge-in” where He is not welcome.
Welcome the Holy Spirit through surrender today and experience a newfound courage and strength to stand for up for God.