“At the time you hear…all kinds of music, fall down and worship the gold image…and whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace” (Daniel 3:4-6).

It’s not always easy to make choices, because innate in each of us is the desire for self-preservation. We are basically conformists taught to abide by policy, procedure, protocol and especially practice, because we prefer to survive to fight another day, in whatever capacity and calling. We try to bring order into chaotic uncertainty. As a result, ethical dilemmas arise and we are called upon to make choices.

The charge came, fueled by jealousy.  “There are certain Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon” (Daniel 3: 12).  Daniel’s friends were well known, had enjoyed a top spot at the King’s table and were on the fast-track career path.  The King had rolled out the red carpet for them, selected as the very best and brightest. He’d called the national convention of delegates and dignitaries for a big jubilee celebration with the golden idol of a manikin, so that all his subjects could demonstrate their loyalty and allegiance by obeisance—it was the culture and practice.  When the symphony played the overture and the king march in, all were to stand and bow in allegiance to the king and the tall golden idol at center stage.

            The orchestra struck up; the committee marched in; the native Babylonians stopped, and rushed forward. Three dignitaries had not bowed, sending a rising ripple of murmur among the crowd, then deadly silence.  Impossible—a giant insult and lack of etiquette on a day like this?  The king could hardly believe his eyes, but kept his cool, stopped and motioned to the orchestra—the music started again and the delegates walked in, now from the side-doors.  Again, three foreign officers stood tall, erect and unflinching—no bended knee or salutation.  The king’s reputation was now at stake, and like all leaders, he felt compelled to act and so did the three Hebrew officers who had prepared for this eventuality and the inevitable fall-out.  The consequences were clear—this might be their last opportunity to witness for a fiery furnace blazed nearby. A clap of the hand summoned valiant men, as the furnace was stoked to become seven times hotter, giving off such heat that the stokers fell dead from the resounding heat wave and boom.

            There is always a choice—are your actions flowing from the immediate and the convenient or from a deeper sense of philosophical choice, based on a reality that espouses knowledge and truth and then translates these concepts into action? Reality is based on God’s Word from which all knowledge flows and actions derive. Whatever is convenient and works is not always right.  Is it better to bow or to burn when ethical issues are at stake, and when policy, procedure, protocol and practice especially require bended knee?  God is always in the fire, awaiting us. Sometimes, we are bound and thrown into fiery furnaces as a result of our stand for the right and our faith belief. It’s never too late to stand for the right, “for the want of the world continues to be men and women who cannot be bought or sold and who will call sin by its right name” (White, 1903). “To Bow or to Burn”—that is indeed the question—better to burn, so burn, baby burn for great is thy faithfulnesshttps://youtu.be/ErwiBz1QA4o