Christians Need to Have The Same Attitude
That the Three Hebrews Possessed in Babylon
I think it would be wise to revisit the famous story that's told in the Book of Daniel about the three
children of Israel known as Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego who will not bow
down to the king's idol. You are
probably very familiar with the story but let me summarize it again.
In Daniel chapter 2, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had a dream that troubled him. He asked all of his wise men to tell him the dream and then interpret it. But he refused to tell anyone what the dream was. He figured in that way that he would know if the wise men really knew what they were talking about if they could tell the king his dream. When no one could do that, he ordered all of his wise men to be killed. But Daniel the Hebrew prophet asked for more time so that he might seek the Lord for the answer.
God then revealed to Daniel what the king had dreamed. It was about a statue that had a head of gold, a silver breastplate, a bronze belly, and iron legs. Daniel then interpreted the meaning of the dream. He told the king that each part of the statue represented a kingdom, beginning with the king's own empire of Babylon. He represented the head of gold. All of the kingdoms that followed the Babylonians would be inferior and thus lesser metals were used to describe each kingdom.
In the third chapter of the Book of Daniel we find that King Nebuchadnezzar decides to make a golden idol (probably of himself and inspired by his dream). Once it is completed, he commands all of his people to fall down and worship it whenever they hear the king's fanfare of musical instruments. But rudely, the three Hebrews don't bow down, and although they are in charge of Babylon's government, word quickly gets back to the king that they are refusing to obey the king's edict. So the king calls them in and asks if the disobedience he's heard about is true. And he then warns them that the punishment for disobedience is that they will be cast into a blazing furnace.
I love their response:
"O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image you have set up." (Daniel 3:16-18 NASB).
Men of principle who believe what they say, and say what they believe are so rare. And these men tell the most powerful man in the world that they will simply not obey. Period. They tell him point blank that their God will deliver them out of his hand, but "even if he does not, we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image!"
What incredible boldness these men had. And of course their faith in God was well placed. They were tied up and thrown into the furnace—after it had been heated up seven times hotter. It had become so hot that the men who threw them into the furnace all died, yet they remained completely unaffected by the fire. No scorching; no burns. Not a single hair on their bodies was singed, just their bonds were burned off so that they could walk around inside the furnace unfettered.
To say that the king was amazed would be a real understatement. When he saw four men walking around in the fire (one was the angel of the Lord—perhaps he was actually an appearance of Christ because the passage tells us he looked like a son of God). Nebuchadnezzar was impressed. The king ended up blessing the Hebrew God of our Bible for his truly remarkable power and blessed those three rebellious Hebrews for standing up against him!
Now this is certainly a powerful story. We know that in less miraculous times, such disobedient rebellion would likely result in getting you tortured and killed. Let's face it, God seldom comes to rescue his people when they stand up for him. More often than not, Christians who stand against evil end up being martyred for their beliefs. That was certainly the price that the three Hebrews were prepared to pay. And it is what so many believers face throughout the world. Right now on planet earth, 100,000 Christian believers are martyred every year primarily slain by the Muslims.
Even in the United States Christians are seen as easy people to attack. No other group of people in our world is attacked more consistently (with the possible exception of the Jews) than Christian peoples.
Think of the attractive pregnant woman who is in the news living within a Muslim country and she has been sentenced to death because she will not renounce Christ. This is what the Lord expects believer's to do. The Muslim court has not recognized her religion even though her Muslim father abandoned her and her mother when she was a child. So she was raised as a Christian but the court doesn't recognize her religion or her marriage to an American Christian. By not recognizing her marriage, they have called her an adulteress for living with her husband. Her child has now been born, and once he has been weaned, she will be hanged and her children will be given not to her husband or to her mother but to the father who abandoned her. Such justice.
As Christians, we are not to turn away from Christ even on the pain of death. But one thing we should notice from the Scripture is that when persecution arose the believers often fled. This is not necessarily cowardice. Actually, fleeing from persecution caused the Church to grow beyond what it would have because most of us don't want to move into a new state or country if we don't have to. We prefer to stay put. So the Lord used persecution to cause the believers to move around the Roman Empire.
Of course, this is happening today in many countries, especially in heavily Muslim countries. Believers flee when the persecution gets heavy, and often all they can take with them is the barest necessities. It is far better if a Christian family looks at the signs of trouble that are brewing and moves before things get so bad that its either too late or they end up impoverished for a long period of time after their move.
Muslim Persecution of Armenian Christians
Years ago I met an Armenian woman named Sara Krajan who had been a young girl living in Turkey during World War 1. Because I was a writer, she wanted me to write her life story and I did a lot of research about that era. Her family lived through the Turkish genocide inflicted upon the Armenian people during the war. Of the two million Armenians in the country, one and a half million were slaughtered by the Muslim Turks.
Sara's father had seen bad things coming and had immigrated to the United States with the hope of earning enough money to pay for his family to come as well. Unfortunately, the Turks soon began to systematically disarm their Christian minority, to steal their property, kill the men, and then begin to deport the Armenian women and children from the country claiming they had revolted. In reality, the entire operation was simply a well disguised genocide meant to solve "the Armenian problem." The deportations had no destination; all of those being escorted into the desert were never meant to leave it.
The Young Turks who had engineered this plot against their Christian subjects, wanted their property, and they also didn't want any witnesses to their vile deed. Their plan was a complete extermination of this group of believers, who like the Jews, kept their distance from the Muslims and were comparatively wealthy compared with their Islamic neighbors because of their strong work ethic. So the Young Turks were careful not to write down their orders or their plans, keeping everything verbal if at all possible. But records did survive, including a Turkish autobiography which included telegrams sent from the man most responsible for the deed: Mehmed Talaat Pasha.
After the war my Christian friend Sara and all her siblings miraculously managed to survive the desert deportation and all ended up traveling to American where they were reunited with their father. Sara's mother was the only direct member of her immediate family to die on that death march.
The other Armenians who survived the Turkish purge also regrouped. One organization that formed was the Armenian Revolutionary Federation. They shared notes and did research to determine who had ordered the genocide against them. Because of the secret nature of what the Young Turks had done, it was difficult putting all of the pieces together, but eventually the perpetrators came to light. Most of the western European governments had kept a blind eye to what had happened, although the American ambassador to Turkey did write extensively about what had happened. But the Armenians realized that they would have to be the ones who meted out justice.
So they had their own trial in absentia and convicted about 200 of the ringleaders for their crimes. Then they sent out their own executioners to find the men who had done this to their people. Operation Nemesis was a covert operation designed to assassinate all the masterminds for their role in the genocide. Several books were written by the men who were involved in the executions of those Young Turks.
At least seven of the major Young Turks responsible were killed. They were found in Rome, Georgia, Constantinople and Germany. But the Grand Vizier Mehmed Talaat Pasha, the mastermind of the genocide was found on the street in Berlin. Soghomon Tehlirian, a survivor of the genocide had been assigned to execute him which he did with a single bullet on March 15, 1921.
He had been instructed beforehand to place his foot on Talaat Pasha's corpse and not run away. He was immediately to surrender to the German authorities. This is what he did. He was then tried for murder at a well publicized and sensational trial. Tehlirian freely admitted killing Talaat but the trial was effectively used to publicize the horrors which the Turks had perpetrated against the Armenians. At the end of the trial the jury deliberated for one hour and found Tehlirian not guilty.
I shared this story because few know what happened to the Armenians. Even Adolph Hitler is quoted about them saying "who remembers the Armenians?" He said that in comparison to what he was doing to the Jews and giving justification for it, as if it really didn't matter. But such things do matter. We must go on record that murder and genocide will be punished. Unfortunately, most of the murderers will not receive what they deserve here on earth, but you can count on the fact that God sees everything done in secret and he will judge those beasts. Everyone must stand before God.
There are times when Christians and the innocent do need to take justice into their own hands. I do believe that. Especially when governments are so corrupt that they are the ones who perpetrate the crimes, or they will not go after those who have committed unbelievable crimes against humanity.
And I can think of a lot of modern day criminals who are literally getting away with murder but who will pay an everlasting price for their crimes. The Lord says, "vengeance is mind." But sometimes he assigns humans to reap that vengeance a little early.
Whatever we as believer's face, I believe that we must always face it like the three Hebrews in Babylon. "Do what you will, O King, but we will not bow down to your idol!"