What God Does For The Committed: Daniel 3
They wouldn't bend! They held on to the will of God so we are told.
They wouldn't bow! They would not bow their knee to the idol made of gold.
They wouldn't burn! They were protected by the fourth man in the fire.
They wouldn't bend, they wouldn't bow, they wouldn't burn.
Sung by The Statler Brothers
Daniel 3:1,2 (NLT), “King Nebuchadnezzar made a gold statue ninety feet tall and nine feet wide and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. The he sent messages to the princes, governors, advisors, counselors, judges, magistrates and all provincial officials to come to the dedication of the statue." The king commanded the royal philharmonic orchestra to be there for a time of worship with: "horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes, and other instruments." When the music starts, the command is given to bow down and worship this image of gold.
There were three of God’s children who had a problem with that!
Daniel 3:8-11 (NLT), The Chaldeans hated the Jews and were jealous of their rise in the kingdom so they ratted them out! When they saw these three Hebrews standing there, not bowing, they quickly halted the time of worship, told the orchestra to cease, and ran to tell the king. The dialog may have been something like this: "Oh, king, live forever! Did you not issue a decree, Oh king, that everyone who hears the sound of the orchestra, must fall down and worship? And didn't you decree, oh king, that if anyone does not bow down they will be thrown into the blazing furnace? Well, we got three of them! It's those three Hebrews, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego, they refused to bow down! They pay no attention to you, O king. They neither serve your gods nor worship the image you have set up. Everyone else, the leaders, astrologers, and wise men that you depend on, O king, they all bowed down, but these three refused.”
You need to understand the power of an oriental king in Daniel's day. He was an absolute monarch! His will was the law and no man ever dared to dispute him or fail to follow his commands. You don't argue with a person who controls fiery furnaces, or one who can chop you in pieces, or turn your home into an pile of rubble in a moment's time without hesitation or remorse. I'm certain that the king never entertained the thought that anyone would dare disobey his edict to bow down to his image.
It seems that no one else had a problem, but these three Hebrews who loved God had a problem! They refused to bow down. In the world today there are certain things we believers have a problem with…immorality, booze, abortion, illegal drugs, pornography, same sex marriage, just to name a few.
There are plenty of excuses Shadrach, Meshack and Abed-Nego could have made:
1. It's useless to resist! After all who could blame us? A man can't be expected to throw his life away, to knock his head against a brick wall. You've got to live, you know.
2. We are in office. We are set over the affairs of Babylon. How would it look if we didn't bow down? After all, we can surely do more by living than dying. (Doesn't it bother you when partisan politics become more important than the good of the nation?)
3. We are in a strange land, and we are high officials of that land. When in Rome do as the Romans do. If we were in Jerusalem it would be different, we would obey God's command, “You shall have no other god's before Me, you shall not make any graven image, or likeness of anything that is in heaven above or earth beneath or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them of serve them” (Exodus 20:3-5).
4. We are prosperous men with a lot of influence in Babylon. We could be throwing away our chances to affect this culture if we don't bow down. There is a great danger in Christians becoming affluent. Too often they forget God. Many who are committed Christians when they are poor and struggling, forget all about God when they become less dependent on Him.
5. After all, we have not been called upon to deny our God. We don't have to believe this idol is divine. They could have even whispered as they were bowing, "This is a devil, not God." They could have said to themselves: "This is not just an image, this is Jehovah, and we are praying to Him, after all, He is everywhere and in everything." There were fire worshipers there who hated it, but they bowed down. There were men who had gods of their own, they hated it, but they bowed down. Thousands of other Jews were bowing down! Can you imagine the devil saying to Shadrach, Meshack and Abed-Nego. "Look at your own countrymen, better men than you are on their faces, who do you think you are?"
6. It's only this one time, and it won't last long, maybe ten minutes or so once in a lifetime. What difference could a few minutes possibly make? Let's just treat it like a big joke and go ahead and bow down. Why strain at a gnat?
7. This is more than can be expected of us. Do you think God really wants us sacrifice ourselves for Him? We tithe, we go to Temple every time the Temple doors are open. What does God want, our whole lives?
8. The strongest argument for compromise may have been, Everyone else is doing it.
Seven tools of the devil:
•Everyone else does it. My mom used to say, “If all of your friends drove off of a cliff would follow them?”
•We always have done it.
•There's no harm in it.
•A little bit won't hurt.
•You've got to keep an open mind. Most open minds should be closed for repairs.
•It all depends on how you look at it.
•You've got to live. Yes, but you also have to die, and after that the judgment!
What does it take to serve God? Everything! Luke 14 (MSG), “One day when large groups of people were walking along with Him, Jesus turned and told them, ‘Anyone who comes to Me but refuses to let go of father, mother, spouse, children, brothers, sisters—yes, even one’s own self!—can’t be My disciple. Anyone who won’t shoulder his own cross and follow behind Me can’t be my disciple.’ (verses 25-27). Jesus continued I verse 30, ‘if you’re not willing to take what is dearest to you, whether plans or people, and kiss it good-bye, you can’t be my disciple.’”
Not even for a few minutes in a lifetime would these three brave young men deny their God. They wouldn't bow, they wouldn't bend, they wouldn't burn.
Wouldn't you like to be like them? Wouldn't you like to stand up to any trial, any problem, any danger, or any threat, and be able to say confidently. “It really doesn't matter what happens to me. I know that God will work it together for my good [Romans 8:28]. I only want to do His will and glorify Him!” That degree of courage depends on an intimate knowledge of God! Do you know that you know Him? Really know Him? Is He that dear to you? Do you trust Him to know what's right for you in every circumstance? Can you rest in Him as a child rests in his father's arms?
Verse 13: “Then Nebuchadnezzar, in rage and fury, gave the command to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. So they brought these men before
It’s worth noting that this king had a confrontation with God in chapter 2, when Daniel interpreted his dream. His response: “Surely, your God is the God of gods, the Lord of kings.” Then in chapter 4 this king tries to take credit for being the creator, and talks about his great power and majesty. God makes him an animal for seven years. His hair and nails grew, he ate grass until he came to himself. Then we find him praising the God of Israel at the end of his life.
Verse 14: Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the gold image which I have set up?” He is having a hard time believing that anyone would dare to disobey his command, especially these young men whom he trusted and placed in high office. “After all I've done for you, this is the way you treat me?”
Verse 15 (NLT): “I will give you one more chance to bow down and worship the statue I have made when you hear the sound of the musical instruments. But if you refuse, you will be thrown immediately into the blazing furnace. And then what god will be able to rescue you from my power?”
The king gives them another chance. Our enemy doesn't give up easily does he? The he asks the crucial question: “Who is the God who will deliver you from my hands?”
Verse 16-18 (MSG): “Your threat means nothing to us. If you throw us in the fire, the God we serve can rescue us from your roaring furnace and anything else you might cook up, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.”
“But if not!” In the summer of 1940, more than 350,000 troops (most of them British) were trapped at Dunkirk. The German forces were more than adequate to completely destroy these men. In what seemed a certain massacre, a British naval officer cabled just three words back to London, “But if not!” The British people understood the message. The German army for some unknown reason backed off, and what is now known as the miracle at Dunkirk took place. Nearly all the soldiers were evacuated by fishing boats, Merchant Marine vessels, and cruise ships. I wonder what those three words would mean to our Biblical ignorant population today?
When you are faced with a compromise, remember, God can deliver you… “But if not.” If you are faced with the possibility of persecution, remember, God can deliver you…”But if not!” He will go through it with you! Note that they did not pivot their loyalty on God's deliverance. People pray things like: “I'll serve God if it pays me to do so.” “I'll serve God if He helps me get my family back together.” “I'll serve God If He helps me with my finances.” “I'll serve God if He just makes me well.” These three Hebrews determined that they will serve God at all costs, whether He delivers them or not.
Verse 19-23 (MSG): “Nebuchadnezzar, his face purple with anger, cut off Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He ordered the furnace fired up seven times hotter than usual. He ordered some strong men from the army to tie them up, hands and feet, and throw them into the roaring furnace. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, bound hand and foot, fully dressed from head to toe, were pitched into the roaring fire. Because the king was in such a hurry and the furnace was so hot, flames from the furnace killed the men who carried Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to it, while the fire raged around Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.”
The king was full of fury. He has never heard the word, no before. So he has the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual. The flames even kill the mighty men who threw them into the furnace.
Now let’s see what God Does For The Committed! How committed were they? They wouldn't bow, they wouldn't bend, they wouldn't burn!
1. God gives the Committed His PERSONAL ATTENTION
No angel can handle this one! These young men said, “We don't answer for God, He is able to do that for Himself. He will deliver us!” We pray: “Oh, God bless me!” God says: “OK you're blessed.” “Oh, God heal me.” ”OK, you're healed.” “Oh, God take care of me.” “OK, you're taken care of.” “Oh, God supply me every need.” “OK, your needs are supplied.” Everything we ask God for is there for the asking. But! When we ask God for something really big, really, really big…These three Hebrews were asking for God to intervene in a life or death situation. What does He do? How do we get His attention in a severe situation? How do we get God to say, “All Right! That's one of my servants who's in trouble!”
Here it is! Are you ready for it? Here it comes! Are you listening? Here are three Hebrew young people who take a stand for God even with threat of a fiery furnace and certain death. God perks up and says, “All right! That's what I'm talkin' about!” They got God's attention!
Remember the woman who pressed through the crowd just to touch Jesus? She got His attention! (Mark 5:27). Or blind Bartimaeus, who cried out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me?” He got His attention! (Mark 10:46-52). Or the man by the pool of Bethsaida who begged for Jesus to touch him? He got His attention! (John 5:1-15).
Do you want God's attention? He's listening! Our God is a listening God! Isaiah 65:24, “And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are they speaking, I will hear.” (See also: Micah 7:7; 1 Peter 3:12; Psalm 65:2; 66:18-20; 77:1; 86:6,7; 116:1,2).
2. God gives the Committed HIS PERSONAL PRESENCE:
Verse 24,25: “Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?” “Look!” he answered, “I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.”
Why do you suppose the king looked in to the furnace? Had anyone ever survived the fire before? How many people do you think ever walked around in the furnace? There is just no way for anyone to survive that heat, but the king looked in, then he asks, “How many men did we put in there?"
3. God gives the Committed HIS POWER:
Verse 26,27: “Then Nebuchadnezzar went near the mouth of the burning fiery furnace and spoke, saying, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here.” Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego came from the midst of the fire. And the satraps, administrators, governors, and the king’s counselors gathered together, and they saw these men on whose bodies the fire had no power; the hair of their head was not singed nor were their garments affected, and the smell of fire was not on them.”
God's power removed their bonds. God's power to deliver comes when we take a stand for Him. Hebrews 11:34 is obviously referring to this incident: The heroes of faith…”Escaped the violence of fire.” Isaiah 43:2: “When you walk through the fire you will not be burned.” Acts 1:8: “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you…” Ephesians 5:18: “Do not be drunk with wine I which is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit.” God gives us all the power we will ever need. It is ours for the claiming. We have the dunamis, the dynamite of God living in us, giving us power:
•Power to overcome evil.
•Power for every day living.
•Power to stand in the face of all temptation.
•Power to cast off any bonds.
•Power to stand in the day of persecution.
4. God gives the Committed HIS PRAISE:
Verse 28: Nebuchadnezzar says: “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego.” When we take a definite stand for the sovereignty of God, others take notice, not of us but of the God we serve!
Verse 29: “There is no God who can deliver like this one.” What a demonstration of the power of God! What a testimony to the nations gathered that day. When we take a stand for God, everyone cans see God in us. If we catch on fire, people are going to come and watch us burn!
5. God gives the Committed HIS PROTECTION:
Verse 28: ”God sent His angel…” This was one of the Old Testament appearances of Christ, (Theophany) who is sent by His Father to deliver His children. Note that not just any angel will suffice! God must send His own Son as He did at Calvary for our deliverance.
Romans 8:32: “God did not spare His own Son but delivered Him up for us all…”
John 3:16-18, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
Matthew 18:10 (MSG), “Watch that you don’t treat a single one of these childlike believers arrogantly. You realize, don’t you, that their personal angels are constantly in touch with my Father in heaven?”
Angels watch the Father's eyes, when one of us is attacked, the angels can see the hurt in our Father's eyes. Psalm 34:7: “The Angel of the Lord (Christ) encamps all around those who fear Him.”
6. God will give the Committed HIS PROMOTION:
Verse 30: “Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego in the province of Babylon.”
Conclusion: One of the legions of the Roman Army had forty Christian soldiers. The legion was involved in a campaign in the high mountains of Northern Armenia in Asia Minor. It was a bitterly cold winter. The Emperor issued a decree to the Generals. Every soldier must march past a statue of the Emperor, do obeisance, pour out a libation of wine, and drop incense on the fire. At the appointed time the trumpets sounded, the Roman Legion, all twelve thousand soldiers marched past the statue, bowed, poured out the wine and burned the incense. But, like Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego, these forty wrestlers had a problem with that. These men, renowned for their prowess on the field of battle, their triumphs in the amphitheater, and their victories in the athletic games, refused to bow down and worship the Emperor. Their General begged them to reconsider, and for a moment they hesitated, then their leader said, “For Rome we will fight on any field, under any sky, if necessary we will die in our service to the Emperor. But we will worship no one, save Jesus Christ, our Master.” The General pronounced sentence on them. They were stripped naked and marched on to a frozen lake. There they sang, “Forty wrestlers, wrestling for Thee O Christ, claim for Thee the victory and from Thee the crown.” One by one they froze to death. The sound of their song, became fainter and fainter. Finally, one of the wrestlers stood shivering and cold before the tent of the General and said, “I will do obeisance, I will pour the wine, I will burn the incense.” The sentinel at the General's tent, although a pagan, was stirred by the heroic faith of the wrestlers. He answered, “Since you proved to be a coward, I will take our place.” Stripped of his armor and clothing, he was marched on to the lake. For a time the men around their campfires could hear a solitary voice. “Forty wrestlers, wrestling for Thee O Christ, claim for Thee the victory and from Thee the crown.” When the sun rose over the Armenian Mountains it looked down upon forty men who had died for Christ, and from whom they had received a crown.
How deep is our devotion and commitment to our Lord Jesus Christ? Are we as committed as our three Hebrew Young People, who, wouldn't bow, wouldn't bend and wouldn't burn!
They wouldn't bend, they wouldn't bow, they wouldn't burn.
Unless otherwise noted The New King James Version (NKJV) of the Bible was used. Also the New Living Translation (NLT); and The Message (MSG),
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