King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, whose height was sixty cubits and its breadth six cubits. He set it up on the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon. Then King Nebuchadnezzar sent to gather the satraps, the prefects, and the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the justices, the magistrates, and all the officials of the provinces to come to the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. Then the satraps, the prefects, and the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the justices, the magistrates, and all the officials of the provinces gathered for the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. And they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up. And the herald proclaimed aloud, “You are commanded, O 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.” Therefore, as soon as all the peoples heard the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, all the peoples, nations, and languages fell down and worshiped the golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. Daniel 3:1-7 ESV
You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. Exodus 20:4-6 ESV
Long ago in Switzerland the Habsburgs of Austria ruled the Swiss people. A man named Gessler was appointed by the Habsburgs to rule the town of Altdorf. Gessler was a proud and cruel man, and he wanted to make sure that everyone respected and obeyed him. If anyone met him, they had to bow down to him, but that wasn’t good enough for Gessler. He put up a pole in the center of the town, and he put his hat on top of the pole. Everyone who passed by the pole had to bow down to his hat on top of the pole to show their respect. The punishment for not doing this was death, but the Swiss hero William Tell refused to bow down to Gessler’s hat. Gessler punished him by making him shoot an apple off his son’s head with an arrow. We don’t know how much of this story is true, but William Tell is still a hero to the Swiss people today.
A similar thing happened in ancient Babylon when Nebuchadnezzar was the king. He made a huge golden image and set it up where everyone could see it. Then he made a law that all the people and all of the officials of the province, no matter what their language or ethnic group or tribe, would have to bow down to this image when the royal band played its music. If anyone didn’t, he would be thrown into a burning fiery furnace. Nebuchadnezzar wanted to make sure that everyone in his kingdom respected him, even those who were from different countries. He wanted to show his power and authority, and everyone was afraid to disobey his order. When the music played, everyone bowed down to the statue. They were giving Nebuchadnezzar and the golden image the respect and honor that should only be given to the true God.
This might seem like a strange story to us, but no matter where or when we live there are temptations to give honor and respect to people or things in a way that it should only be given to God. We might worship money, or fame, or power, or success, or look to others who have these things as our example or our help. Sometimes governments pass laws that don’t follow the laws of God. Some people look to stars or crystals or spirits for power and wisdom instead of to the Lord. All of these are ways that we might be tempted to worship a false god instead of the true God. Jesus came to bring us back to the true God, and to die for our sins of worshiping other things instead of the Lord. He destroyed the work of the devil when he died and rose again, and he sends us his Holy Spirit to keep us safe from worshiping false gods that will hurt us, and help us keep our Heavenly Father first in our lives.
Dear Jesus, thank you for dying for us to bring us back to our Heavenly Father, and for protecting us from the forces of evil. Amen.