Daniel’s three friends are standing on the plain of Dura. They can see the smoke ascending from the furnace and perhaps even feel its heat. The music plays, and thousands of people, like dominos, bow before the golden image gleaming in the sun. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego remain standing while all around them are bowed down as far as the eye can see. It’s clear they are the only ones standing.
The temptation to compromise in this moment would have been almost irresistible. It would have been the easiest thing to do to rationalize in that moment. There would have been a thousand excuses to kneel before the image or even conveniently tie your shoelaces! After all, it’s just kneeling. Wouldn’t God understand that I’m really kneeling to Him in my heart and not to the image?
The three Hebrews on the plain of Dura made a commitment that they would rather die than kneel. They represent a radical commitment to truth and duty that is foreign to our contemporary culture. Yet it is this radical commitment that God is calling His faithful to emulate at the end of time. “We should choose the right because it is right, and leave consequences with God,” even if that means our death (White, The Great Controversy, 460).
Biblical end-time ethics is not situational; it is radically principled. Even life itself is not worth compromising over our allegiance to God. “It is better to die than to sin; better to want than to defraud; better to hunger than to lie” (White, Conflict and Courage, 119).
The scenes on the plain of Dura will be repeated at the end of time. An image will be set up, and all will be forced to worship the image on penalty of death. But there will be a remnant that will refuse to worship the image. The clarion call to be faithful to God, even unto death, will be answered by God’s people. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s radical faithfulness typifies the characteristics of God’s last-day people.