#2 “The Lord Is With You” Series
"THE LORD IS WITH YOU IN THE FIRE!"
TEXT: Daniel 3:1-30
INTRO: Being a Christian in this world automatically brings us into conflict! There will be times when we will be thrown to the "fire" for being a Christian! Our values as Christians are at odds with those of this world and they always will be. How do we handle those "fire" moments?
In 1960, the president of Ghana built a larger than life statue of himself and had it erected in front of the Parliament House. He put the country under his total control and had inscribed on the base of the statue this: "Seek ye first the political kingdom and all other things shall be added unto you." This arrogant leader obviously mocked the Word of God with this inscription, and demonstrated the arrogance that mankind without God creates toward anything that is God directed; yet only about 6 years later, in 1966, a bloodless coup toppled the president and the statue was destroyed. While this leader is gone Christians still live and witness throughout Ghana, they came through the fire with God's help!
PROP. SENT: The Bible teaches us that God will ALWAYS be with us in the "fire" even if He doesn't spare us from the fires, we never go in alone, He is in them with us!
I. THE RIDICULOUS 3:1-12
A. Ego 3:1-3
1. The President of Ghana like Nebuchadnezzar had elevated his own status to be greater than God Himself!
a. This is the heart of sinful man ... they don't need God because they are good enough and strong enough without Him!
b. This ego is not just displayed by men like Nebuchadnezzar; it is displayed by men and women today!
c. This sinful pride is not from God, He wants us to feel good about ourselves but not superior to Him or others!
2. Man's arrogance and pride ultimately causes pain for themselves and others, God always in time makes a mockery of such egos.
ILLUS: Like the minister, Boy Scout, and computer expert who were flying together as passengers on a small plane. The plane was having problems and finally the pilot came back and told them it was going down and that there were only 3 parachutes on board for the 4 of them! He explained that as the pilot he would have to use one of them because he had a wife and 3 small children ... and so he jumped. The computer wiz was next, he explained that he had to use the 2nd one because he was so smart the whole world needed him, so he grabbed a bag and jumped. With one parachute left the Minister turned to the Boy Scout and with a sad smile said to him, "son, you are young and have a full life ahead of you, I have lived a rich life, so you take the final parachute and I'll go down with the plane." To his surprise the young boy quickly answered, "Relax Reverend, the smartest man in the world, the computer wiz, just picked up my knapsack and jumped out ... there are 2 parachutes here!" So much for arrogance and the smartest man in the world by his own estimation! – Source Unknown
3. Nebuchadnezzar's ego set the stage for 3 godly men to have to experience being thrown into the fire!
a. We should not be shocked when the world pokes fun at Christianity ... it is a threat to man's arrogance!
b. God never promised to KEEP US FROM FIRE, just to be with us IN THE FIRE!
B. Empty 3:4-7
1. It is so ridiculous to realize that so many would fall before this empty statue of Nebuchadnezzar’s and worship it! These same people however would get angry over praying to the real God if asked to do so freely!
a. This still goes on today, God is kicked out of the school rooms but meditation and eastern mysticism is taught and practiced as relaxation exercises and the elevation of self has become a main part of today’s curriculum! While this is forced and everyone just goes along with it, mention a silent prayer in school and see what happens?
b. Nebuchadnezzar’s image may have looked impressive; it was 90 feet tall and gold plated, but it was empty of real life!
c. It was just an empty shell of a human being, devoid of life!
2. And so are all “self-realization” gods and goddesses embraced by so many today!
3. When they are really examined they are found empty of power and life!
ILLUS: Remember the story of the "Emperor’s New Clothes?" A con man convinces the Emperor that the clothing he makes is so exquisite and fine and so rare that it is undetectable to the touch and only those with good character and great abilities can see the fabric ... those who are ignorant and foolish cannot see the clothes at all! Then he hands the king an empty hanger claiming it contains the new royal clothes! Not wanting to admit he sees nothing, since this would make him ignorant and foolish, the king pretends to put them on and parades through the capital stark naked! The empty reality is ignored because of his stubborn ego ... and he is a fool to everyone but himself! – Source Unknown
4. And so are all the empty attempts of man to glorify himself and ignore the true God! In the end they will all realize their nakedness ... but then it will be too late!
a. How much better to be clothed upon by Christ's Righteousness ... then we are not naked!
b. This was precisely the meaning of God clothing Adam and Eve after they sinned; only after sin did they realize their nakedness!
C. Evil 3:8-12
1. Now those who helped feed the King's ego make plans to trap the unyielding believers who refused to bow at such an empty idol!
a. When we too refuse to bow our knees to the empty idols of society we can expect some measure of resistance!
b. The failure to bow irritates the enemies of the Kingdom of God!
2. These guys had a good thing going by flattering the worldly king, they put themselves in a position to benefit handsomely in this world!
a. Their hearts weren't on worship of some god ... their hearts were on their pocketbooks and their power opportunities!
b. They appealed to an inflated ego to enhance their own lifestyle!
3. This mentality is at the heart of most of the evil in our world!
a. This evil is practiced everywhere, not just in the corridors of power!
b. How we need men and women today of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s character, those who were living for God and showed that in their lifestyle no matter the consequences!
4. Evil will not be conquered by doctrinal statements as much as it will be living examples of godliness!
II. THE RIGHTEOUS 3:13-23
A. Examination 3:13-15
1. The world will not take very kindly to real believers ... they threaten a lifestyle of selfishness and self-glory!
2. When Nebuchadnezzar discovers that these 3 men wouldn’t bow to the image he was furious!
a. Ironically however, he really liked these guys! Probably he trusted them since they were genuine!
b. The law however was clear on this matter, and so the king states the tough spot they are putting him in by saying, “If you don’t worship it, you will be thrown in the fire, then what god will be able to rescue you?”
c. Like so many in this world they just don't realize the God we serve and His power to save!
3. It was "EXAMINATION" time for the 3 men, would they pass the test?
a. We will face many such "examinations" during our lifetime ... when our faith will be tested even by this world!
b. The challenge was before them: Take the fire, or take your life!
4. There will ALWAYS BE PRESSURES TO COMPROMISE IN THIS WORLD ... TO MAKE LIFE EASIER FOR OURSELVES ... but easier doesn't mean BETTER!
a. No one likes the tests of fire!
b. But our faith will come into conflict with this world and the sparks WILL fly!
ILLUS: The great preacher C.H. Spurgeon once received a letter to the effect that if he did not place a certain amount of money in a certain place at a certain time these people would publish some things in the newspapers that would defame him and ruin his public ministry. Spurgeon left at that station a letter in reply: "you and your like are requested to publish all you know about me across the heavens." He knew his life was blameless in the eyes of men, and therefore, they could not touch his character or press him to compromise his faith! – Source Unknown
5. How do these men face this examination?
B. Exclamation! 3:16-18
1. It did not matter if it was the king or a pauper ... they would not alter their walk with God for anyone, for any reason!
a. This is the kind of faith that brings God into the fire with you!
b. This is the kind of faith that transforms others!
c. This is the kind of faith that gives power to the Gospel story!
2. With no apparent hesitation they simply exclaim the fact that it did not matter that the king gave them this threat of fire or not ... they would not change their minds about bowing before the image! THEY WOULD NOT!
a. Every time Christians compromise we give the world a false sense of the idols they serve ... if we bow just to keep peace we make them think their idols are ok!
b. Christians who ignore worship on God's Sabbath day to do frivolous things only show the world how unimportant God is ... and how more important the idols of this world are!
3. Their FAITH in God is worth looking at here:
a. Notice they did not claim that God WOULD spare them from the fire! They do not presume upon God's grace or their own personal goodness!
b. Their confidence in God rested not on whether they escaped painful fire but on their confidence that God is who He says He is!
c. Their faith statement: "THE GOD WHOM WE SERVE IS ABLE TO DELIVER US, BUT IF HE DOESN'T, WE STILL WON’T BOW TO YOUR FALSE IDOL!"
4. Gold meant nothing to these guys ... or at least not as much as God did!
5. Facing fire, even death, didn't move them to compromise either!
6. For God's people there is something worse than the fires of this world, and that is the final fire of God’s judgment that is coming upon all those who reject God as their Lord!
a. And so they placed themselves at God's mercy, always a safe place to be!
b. It was apparent immediately that they weren't going to be spared being thrown into the fire! BUT THAT'S OK; GOD WOULD MEET THEM IN THE FIRE!
C. Enraged! 3:19-23
1. Predictably, the king flew in a rage and commanded the furnace be stoked up hotter, 7 times hotter than normal, as though a hotter fire will teach them a lesson more than one that is only hot enough to kill them!
a. As is usually the case, the anger of this world does more harm to sinners than to saints ... the men who were going to throw them in died from the exposure to this furnace, so the innocent people die over the rage of an egotistical leader!
b. This can still be seen today all
over the world! (
2. As though the king has to worry, he has these 3 godly men tied up but calls on the strongest soldiers in his army to come get them to throw them in, as he heats the furnace up 7 times hotter than normal!
a. However, the power of faith is surely stronger than anything on this earth!
b. Nothing is as powerful as a Christian who will not bend to compromise their faith no matter the outcome!
c. Satan and all his hordes of demons in hell are powerless against this kind of witness of faith!
d. Even though there are those who can kill our bodies they cannot rob us of our eternal life and rewards!
3. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego remain firmly committed, no bending, no begging, no changing!
a. How many today would have come up with excuses to compromise!
(1. "Well, what about my family, how will this affect them if I die in the furnace?"
(2. "What would it hurt to bow just this once ... in my heart I will know the difference?"
(3. "I am supposed to obey the laws of the land, aren't I?"
(4. "If I make a big scene people will think us believers are a bunch of fanatics."
(5. "Maybe if I bow now I will win the King's respect and so I'll be able to minister to him later."
(6. "Wouldn't it be better to live so I can minister for many more years yet?"
b. There are no excuses however for disobedience and compromise!
c. Their witness will stand for God no matter the consequences, these men had so much to live for and they will be given that gift yet!
4. The truth of the matter is that fire will not destroy Christians it will only make us more valuable!
ILLUS: A customer once asked a shopkeeper, “What makes this one set of china so much more expensive than that one over there?” They all looked the same to him? The reply was instructional for faith: "The costlier set has had more done to it; you see it was put through the fire twice, once for the yellow background, and the second time through for the design painted on it. The cheaper set only was fired once being of only a single color." – Source Unknown
5. The trials of fire we go through don't destroy us or take away from us ... they add value to our faith, they give us a testimony to others of our trust in God in spite of the "fires!" Each fire only establishes yet another layer of God's designs on our life!
Missionary in the A/G Victor Plymire’s and his wife Grace went to a Tibetan town
6. Sure enough, they are not spared being thrown into the fire ... BUT!
III. THE REMARKABLE 3:24-3O
A. Evidence! 3:24-27
1. God vindicates their faith, though not spared being thrown into the fire they are spared the fires normal destruction on their bodies!
a. The ropes burn away ... the bondage of this world is consumed!
b. Yet, neither their clothes nor bodies are even touched by the fire, they don't even smell like smoke!
(1. Some Christians survive the fires of trials too, but then they turn bitter over them, they smell of fire!
(2. While it is good to survive the fires ... it is even better to come out clean!
c. Even the king realizes that they weren't alone in the fire, he asks again how many went in, he sees 4 and the look of the 4th is no mere mortal!
2. When you walk with God others can see it!
a. Real faith has real evidences!
b. Real faith drives people to their knees to confess the living God!
3. The king wanted to talk to these guys ... but not by going into the fire himself of course, he invites them to come out and talk to him!
a. When others see you live for God in real ways they will approach you about your faith!
b. If they see us take our faith for granted or it is just another "thing" in our life they are not likely to be attracted to it!
4. "REAL EVIDENCE" demands a verdict, and in this case it is that "THE LORD OF SHADRACH, MESHACH, AND ABEDNEGO IS THE REAL GOD, THERE IS NONE OTHER LIKE HIM!"
a. It is very hard for the world to dismiss real Christians!
b. The world will always have poor excuses of Christianity to point at, let's give them examples however that will make them be ashamed to attack ... the real thing is a powerful tool in the hands of God!
c. You don't need a college education to be an effective tool in God's kingdom, you don't need any of the trappings of this world's system, you just need a steadfast faith that is consistent and real!
B. Edict! 3:28-30
1. 3 simple men stood up for God and their potential resulted in a decree to an entire godless nation about the true God!
a. You might say, "But who am I?"
b. Only God knows the real potential of your standing up for Him!
ILLUS: Like one man wrote: "Anyone can count the seeds in an apple, but only God can count the apples in a seed!" For instance, D. L. Moody was uneducated and untrained yet yielded to God, he led Mordecai Ham to the Lord, who turned out to become an evangelist, though not a good one, yet a young man name William Graham got saved under the faithful unknown servant and today Billy Graham has won thousands to His Lord! – Source Unknown
2. Not only is it published by King Nebuchadnezzar, "NO OTHER GOD CAN SAVE IN THIS WAY" but a new found respect for the Lord was established in an ungodly country!
a. New laws were passed protecting the faith of these men, as well as them!
b. While Babylon didn't fully turn to God, it did recognize the legitimacy of worshipping God!
c. The whole country heard about God by decree from an ungodly ruler!
3. As a benefit, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are promoted – the evildoers were punished!
CONCLUSION: God never promised to keep us from trials of fire but He has promised to be IN them with us! It is possible for a Christian to suffer "hot" trials and still come through them without being "burned!" Even the smell of smoke was removed! What a great promise by God ... to be with us in the fire!