Strength in the Face of Persecution

This week, we continued our series in the Book of Daniel (Counter-Culture), and explored the courage of three Hebrew men; Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. King Nebuchadnezzar bound them and his soldiers threw these men into the fire, because they would not fall down and worship the golden statue he had created. This statue stood 90 feet in the air and had a width of 9 feet. Ultimately, Nebby was playing God, because he thought his power and name was matchless. Even though Nebby had declared God as the God of the gods, he was not following after the Lord. As a result, he elevated his status above the Lord’s, asking people to get their fill from him. But, why? Becuase, Nebby didn’t create a clean division between God and the gods. It wasn’t enough for him to just give mere lip service to God for being in control all things, as he did in chapter two. Rather, God is asking us for our full love and devotion. 

 

What we quickly realize, is that giving God our full love and devotion can be difficult, when we have to interact with the deception and sickness that is Satan himself. Satan, the great deceiver who has been banished from eternal life with God (Genesis), is a predator looking to devour his prey. And you can see some of his finest work here in the life of Nebby. You see, Satan is convincing Nebby the same thing that he did Eve in the Garden of Eden. Genesis 3:4-5 says, “The serpent said to the woman, ‘You surely will not die! ‘For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” You see, when we begin to feel like it is by our power that we can solve our deep inner needs, we have allowed Satan dominion over our heart. That is exactly what Satan is doing here with Nebby. As a result, others fearfully followed after Nebby’s idol, because they were looking to be filled. But not, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Let’s take a look at their courage. 

 

Read:  Daniel 3: 1-30 (ESV)

1. King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, whose height was sixty cubits[a] and its breadth six cubits. He set it up on the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon. 2 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. 3 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. 4 And the herald proclaimed aloud, “You are commanded, O peoples, nations, and languages,5 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. 6 And whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace.” 7 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.

8. Therefore at that time certain Chaldeans came forward and maliciously accused the Jews. 9 They declared[b] to King Nebuchadnezzar, “O king, live forever! 10 You, O king, have made a decree, that every man who hears the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, shall fall down and worship the golden image. 11 And whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast into a burning fiery furnace. 12 There are certain Jews whom you have appointed over the affairs of the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These men, O king, pay no attention to you; they do not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” 13 Then Nebuchadnezzar in furious rage commanded that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be brought. So they brought these men before the king 14 Nebuchadnezzar answered and said to them, “Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up? 15 Now if you are ready when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, well and good.[c] But if you do not worship, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?”

16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17 If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king.[d] 18 But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”Then Nebuchadnezzar was filled with fury, and the expression of his face was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He ordered the furnace heated seven times more than it was usually heated. 20 And he ordered some of the mighty men of his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace. 21 Then these men were bound in their cloaks, their tunics,[e] their hats, and their other garments, and they were thrown into the burning fiery furnace. 22 Because the king's order was urgent and the furnace overheated, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. 23 And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell bound into the burning fiery furnace.

24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” 25 He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.” 26 Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the door of the burning fiery furnace; he declared, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here!” Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out from the fire. 27 And the satraps, the prefects, the governors, and the king's counselors gathered together and saw that the fire had not had any power over the bodies of those men. The hair of their heads was not singed, their cloaks were not harmed, and no smell of fire had come upon them. 28 Nebuchadnezzar answered and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set aside[f] the king's command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God.29 Therefore I make a decree: Any people, nation, or language that speaks anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be torn limb from limb, and their houses laid in ruins, for there is no other god who is able to rescue in this way.” 30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the province of Babylon.

Understand: Four Truths from Daniel 3

  1. Satan is proactively working against God’s Truths (Vv. 1-7)
  2. The World will react with hostility to our faithful decisions (Vv. 8-15)
  3. Christians must be decisively courageous in the midst of adversity (Vv. 16-23)
  4. God’s people can be confident in the Lord’s dominion over all things (Vv. 24-30)

Think: 

  1. Does God deserve your unending devotion?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Donald S. Whitney explains, "It’s crucial-crucial-to understand that it’s not our pursuit of holiness that qualifies us to see the Lord. Rather, we are qualified to see the Lord by the Lord, not by good things we do."                                                                                                     
  2. How might you be able to seek the Holy Spirit's guidance, as you seek the Lord this week?     '                                                                                                                                                  Witney explains, “All who come to God trusting in the person and work of Jesus to make them right with God are given the Holy Spirit. The presence of the Holy Spirit causes all those in whom He resides to have new holy hungers they didn’t have before. They hunger, for example, for the Holy Word of God— the Bible—that they used to find boring or irrelevant. They have new holy longings, such as the longing to live in a body without sin and to have a mind no longer tempted by sin. They yearn to live in a holy and perfect world with holy and perfect people, and to see at last the One the angels perpetually praise as ‘holy, holy, holy.”

Discuss: 

Challenge yourself to sit down with at least one person this week to discuss the Four Truths from Daniel 3

Prayer: 

Heavenly Father, thank you, that you are victorious of Satan. Thank you, that you have dominion over all of the heavens and the earth. Lord you deserve my unending devotion, because you first loved me. I give you my heart and my soul, because I know that it is only in you that I find true satisfaction. 

Psalms 96:1-7

“Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples. For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and glory are in his sanctuary. Ascribe to the Lord, all you families of nations, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.”

Outside Resources: 

Penned by Tim Goodwin (Associate Pastor, Farmingdale)