H - "And the herald proclaimed aloud,'You are commanded, peoples, nations, and languages, that when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, you are to fall down and worship the golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. And whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace.'" - Daniel 3:4-6
E - Nebuchadnezzar made a huge image of gold and set it up in the plain of Dura in Babylon. He gathered all the governmental leaders across the nations to attend a dedication ceremony for the image of gold. When all the governmental leaders were standing before the image, he then commanded them to fall down and worship it. Anyone who refused to do so would be thrown into a fiery furnace. Three Jewish youths--Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego--refused to do so.
A - Father, we are commanded to obey the government in Romans 13, but here Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are disobeying the government. In our own day, Christians need wisdom when not to obey the government. There are some tricky issues we are dealing with right now, and we need your guidance. No actual golden image is being set up in New Zealand, but there does seem to be idolatry at work in the direction of society, particularly the idol of the State. When do we say no? At what point does the State become an idol, even without a physical statue like Nebuchadnezzar's image of gold?
R - "This is a good question to ask, Jeff. Your default position must be to obey the government (Romans 13:1-7). Remember the situation in New Zealand is nowhere close to the situation of the early church in the Roman Empire under Nero. But do keep your eye on the power of the State. International government is the idol of the future. Advocate for checks and balances on governmental power at all levels. Realise that loss of economic freedom goes hand in hand with loss of political and religious freedom. Help believers and others to distinguish between the constrained vision of human nature (man is basically self-interested) and the unconstrained vision of human nature (man is basically altruistic). Point out empirically what the patterns of history show us about the direction of society. Follow in the thinking Francis Schaeffer. Work on articulating what is happening so that believers and conservatives understand what is going on."
P - Father, thank you that your Spirit guides us in these things. Show us clearly when falling down and worshipping an idol is involved. Give us discernment to see through the governmental rhetoric to the truth of things. Please preserve the free market of ideas in the West, that we may all be able to talk fairly and freely on important issues. Please defend our freedoms of speech and religion, and may we value these basic freedoms as fundamental to our society. Help everyday Kiwis to see the dangers involved in the eroding of these freedoms. May we even defend the right of those we disagree with. May the public square be fair to all. Amen.
- Jeff Coleman