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"But, If Not...", Part 2

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
November 24, 2022 12:00 am

"But, If Not...", Part 2

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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November 24, 2022 12:00 am

Millions of church-goers today think that following God will lead to greater health, wealth, and prosperity. But what happens when it leads to a fiery furnace?


In the book of Daniel, we encounter three young men who were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for their faith. This is why their testimony will be so powerful to the Christian in any generation, in any culture, in any country. This works in America, this works in North Korea, this works in Burma. Their testimony is so powerful, not because God delivered these three men from death, but because they were willing to die for their faith.

Happy Thanksgiving! I'm glad you've taken a few moments to listen today. You know, there are places in the world today where Christians who remain faithful to Christ are being killed for their faith. That may not be the situation for you, but you still should live with that same resolve. The resolve that no matter what, I will be faithful to Jesus Christ.

Could you use some help developing that kind of resolve? Today on Wisdom for the Heart, Stephen returns to the book of Daniel to look at the testimony of three young men with that kind of resolve. Stay with us for a message Stephen calls, but if not... Has it ever occurred to you that the promise of immediate and guaranteed comfort is actually the offer of Satan? That's his gospel. Eve, you can have it all.

I'll back the truck up right now. When Jesus was tempted, according to Matthew chapter 4, one of his temptations, Satan said, Just bow to me, the verb 10 says, just one time, just once, and I'll give you everything. In that same scene of temptation, he told Jesus, you know, you really shouldn't be suffering from hunger.

I mean, surely that's not the will of God. Your father turned those stones into bread. What do you say?

Eat up and serve yourself. Come on, it's time to speak some words of favor and blessing and abundance. What if God takes you from bad to worse? Where's your faith then? Peter, the apostle, many Bible scholars believe that when he wrote the phrase, don't be surprised when you encounter a fiery trial which comes upon you for your testing, that Peter was thinking about an event that had happened centuries earlier, a literal trial by fire. And one of the greatest statements of faith in the Bible, not from believers who were saying the right thing in order to get what they wanted from God, but from believers who were saying the right thing even though they thought they were going to die. Many believe the apostle Peter was thinking of Daniel chapter 3. So with that as my introduction, turn to Daniel and the third chapter. And let's just rehearse a story that's commonly known to the church, but it includes a demonstration of faith that is entirely uncommon and growing more and more uncommon each day. I know you probably know this story, but I want you to re-enter it as if for the first time, because we tend to forget when I say Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, yeah, those are the guys that didn't bow and they were freed from the fiery furnace. Slow down.

Was there no pressure? I mean, if there was ever a time for them to whisper to each other, hey, everybody else is doing it. In fact, there were other Jews who'd been assigned posts over these last 20 years.

They're on their face. If there was ever a time to rationalize, let's just go along with it. I mean, we can do more good by being officers in the king's service than ashes in the king's furnace. I like that, Meshach.

You're right. I was thinking the same thing. Now, let's now make a scene. What good is a fanatic?

What good does looking weird do? We've got to build a bridge to these idolaters. God won't mind one little bow. Oh, I know. I know. We will bow our knees, but we won't bow our hearts. I love that. That's great.

Let's do it. I love a genuine faith that does not run around looking for loopholes. It does what it knows to be right. Now, evidently Nebuchadnezzar didn't see them standing. There were probably thousands of people there, but certain officials did. In fact, the text implies they saw it immediately, which implies they were watching these three guys. They hated them.

That's why you see it twice, at least. Certain Jews, King, these Jews were a little bothered, these wise men were, these Chaldeans. With the way that these guys came along, okay, they passed a few tests, but they got promoted into high posts over the province of Babylon. They're not too happy about that, and they've been waiting.

This was their chance. Look at verse 12. There are certain Jews, King, whom you've appointed over the administration of the province of Babylon, namely Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These men, O King, have disregarded you, treason. They do not serve your gods or worship the golden image which you've set up, heresy. Just like that, verse 13 tells us that this news throws Nebuchadnezzar into a rage, a fit, a violent anger.

He's hotter than the furnace nearby. He demands that these three men be brought before him, verse 14. And he says to them, is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up? And then you expect the ax to fall, but we missed this part.

At this moment, he's struck with this magnanimous act of charity. He says, effectively, as he cools down for a moment, I'll tell you what, I'll give you a second chance. Now, if you are ready, at the moment you hear the sound of the orchestra, if you'll fall down, and I'm paraphrasing, great. In other words, I'm going to give you a second chance, and if you bow down, I'm going to let bygones be bygones. But if you don't bow down, notice verse 15, the latter part, what god is there who can deliver you from my hand?

You don't stand a chance. So what do you say to the second chance? I can imagine these wise men standing nearby thinking to themselves, man, we thought we had them.

Where in the world did a second chance come from? Nebuchadnezzar doesn't give people second chances. I mean, think of the fact that these men have defied our king openly in front of everybody who's anybody, every leader in his empire, and now he's given these guys a chance to change their mind, which they're going to do. What they did was rash, we got to admit it was courageous, but now they've had an opportunity as they've been led forward, and now they're on the platform, they can see the furnace, and they've had time to think it through, and they've had time to wonder how long fire hurts before it kills. They're going to change their minds.

What they hear next is too good to be true. Almost in unison, these three men respond, verse 16, O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter. In other words, we did what we did, and we know why we did it, and we don't even need to explain it, but what you need to know, king, is that we don't need a second chance. Verse 17, 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, get this, even if he does not, but if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods, or worship the golden image that you have set up. That's the greatest statement of faith you can imagine anybody saying. These guys didn't even pray about it. They just kind of blurted it out in unison.

We don't need a second chance. God can deliver us from your hand, but if he chooses not to, we're ready to die. They'd actually had days to prepare for it, actually. They knew it was coming.

They had, in their minds, already assumed that they would die. But not before one of the most remarkable statements of faith in the Bible. Listen, O king. Our God can take us and free us from your hand, but if not... Now, wait a second.

Back up. Stop with our God is able to deliver us out of your hand. Stop there. That's faith.

That'll sell books. But they didn't stop there. They actually announced that God might not get out his eraser.

He might allow them to die. This isn't doubt. This is faith. This is true faith.

Praying, Lord, this is what we want, but thy will be done. There are people that believe, oh, man, you just trashed the whole thing. That's doubt. That isn't faith. Declare what you want.

These men went on not to express doubt, but the deepest kind of faith. My friends, you don't speak your destiny into existence. You surrender your destiny to the Lord of the universe, who does exactly what he wants to do. And we submit to him.

Well, their answer seals their death warrant. In fact, Nebuchadnezzar gets so angry, he orders the furnace to be heated seven times hotter. Well, I'll show you guys. I'm going to heat it seven times hotter. Now, we know from history and the help of archaeology that this was a smelting furnace. It's a large, round structure with a domed roof and a lid right on the very top, a large lid that could be opened through which they would deposit their materials. It was a large opening at the bottom a few feet from the ground from which they could remove the ore and other materials, ashes, coals. There were holes, large holes around that structure through which they could insert bellows and they could force air into that oven and make it even hotter. The king effectively orders, get out the bellows.

I want it seven times hotter than it's ever been. You would get to that top hatch or door on that roof by way of a ramp typically made out of earth. Up that ramp, these three young men were carried, still dressed in their clothing. They're just bound. They're going to be thrown in like logs on a fire. When that door opens, something unusual happens.

You know the story. Sometimes it kills these three soldiers or those that were in the company of taking the Hebrews to the top and the Hebrews fell in through that opening while the others died. I don't know about you men, but I don't know much about ovens and I don't spend much time in the kitchen, which is a win-win for our family, for everyone's safety. Sometimes my wife will ask me to get something out of the oven. Have you noticed that when you open that oven, you're immediately hit with a wave of hot air, so much so that you maybe even close your eyes and turn your head while you open it up until the blast kind of gets past you. Evidently, as they opened that hatch, the gust of air was so powerfully hot that as soon as the soldiers opened it, they collapsed within moments and those three men fell into the furnace.

They should have immediately ignited and for a few seconds, perhaps, writhed on that bed of white-hot coals until they literally disappeared. Notice verse 24. The Nebuchadnezzar the king was astounded and stood up in haste. He said to his high officials, Was it not three men we cast bound in the midst of the fire? Verse 25. He said, Look, I see four men loosed and walking about in the midst of the fire without harm and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.

The plural form, a correct translation. He didn't know anything about Jesus Christ, the Son of God, but he did believe, as all Babylonians did, that many of their gods had sons. What he's saying here is that that fourth man looks divine, looks unique. We're not told why.

He could check that out. Or perhaps it was simply the fact that a fourth man appears and they didn't throw him in there and he will quickly disappear as well. This is what theologians call, I believe, a Christophany. This is a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus Christ taking some form like he did when he appeared to Abraham before destroying Sodom and Gomorrah, Genesis chapter 18, when he took the form of a man who wrestled with Jacob by the brook, Genesis 32. King says, Look at them. They're walking around like it's a palace and not a furnace. Look at verse 26. The Nebuchadnezzar came near to the door of the furnace of blazing fire. He responded and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, come out, you servants of the Most High God, and come here. I'll just slow the train down for a moment. You're one of these three.

What do you do now? I have a few thoughts. Abednego could have said, Why don't you come in here after us?

Hot shot. Meshach could have said, We're not coming out until we get a raise. And a new chariot. Shadrach could have said, Well, we're not coming out of here until you apologize. Until you show some respect for our God. You make things right. We have been humiliated in front of all the leaders of the kingdom.

Until you say something about us, we're not coming out. Have you ever been mistreated? And then vindicated? What did you say next?

Who gets the credit here? Evidently, God did. Did you notice the only thing the fire burned away was what bound them?

That was it. They came out of the fire, verse 27, says they were immediately inspected. They're not singed. Their clothes weren't burned. They didn't even have the smell of fire on them. Only one thing has changed. Those ropes that bound them are no longer there.

Isn't that just like fiery trials, though? God intends that they burn away whatever it is that binds our minds and our hearts and our affections to earth. Now Nebuchadnezzar can't stop saying good things about God.

Interesting guy. There's no other God, verse 27. No other God is able to deliver in this way.

Now I've seen everything. By the way, he's impressed, but he's not converted. He's got a few notches to come down before that'll happen, and it will, but for now he's amazed. Verse 30 informs us that all three men were caused to prosper in the province of Babylon. Now that's a long way of saying they got promoted. They probably got a new chariot, too.

Why? Because they spoke favor into their destiny? Oh no, you remember back up in verses 17 to 18, they said, Our God is able to save us, but if not, if not, we are still following the real God, and by the way, you're just worshiping a hollowed-out, gold-plated statue.

The king promoted them because he just discovered three men who couldn't be bribed or threatened even to the pain of death to violate their character, and that's who you want leading in the kingdom. Now if I were God, I would have stopped the story at about verse 18 because that would be the best-selling version. I'd say, boys, you passed the test.

Congratulations. Here's a new chariot. He could have snuffed out that furnace as soon as they declared their faith. He could have sent a gust of wind and tipped over that hollowed-out statue. He could have plugged up all the instruments in the orchestra. He was obviously planning to do some miracles. He could have done anything, but did you notice? He let them get falsely accused. He let them be humiliated in front of all their peers and culture. He let them experience the wrath of a pagan king. He allowed the soldiers to turn up that oven into a raging inferno. He allowed them to get carried up that ramp, their lives flashing before their eyes. He let them fall into that furnace, perhaps their eyes tightly shut and their heads turned slightly away, expecting at any moment to burst into horrifying flames and die. He did not eliminate the fire. He just joined them in it, which is what he does with you and me. He doesn't eliminate the trial.

Sometimes he allows it to be heated seven times hotter. Ladies and gentlemen, you need to know that these men were in the middle of that fire, in the middle of God's will. You see, God didn't want them to experience the elimination of trouble. He wanted them to experience his presence in the middle of trouble.

So he didn't erase it. See, we think that faith is going to result in immediate deliverance, and we discover that God is most often interested in long-term development. One author put it this way, God is not at work in your life creating circumstances you want.

He is at work in your circumstances creating in you what he wants. Three observations of genuine faith demonstrated out there in the plane of Dora, and I'm going to give them to you quickly. Genuine faith is demonstrated by following God, number one, regardless of the feelings inside us. Number two, in spite of the circumstances around us. Number three, no matter what the consequences are before us. I'll come back and repeat that in a moment, but this is why their testimony will be so powerful to the Christian in any generation, in any culture, in any country.

This works in America, this works in North Korea, this works in Burma. Their testimony is so powerful, not because God delivered these three men from death, but because they were willing to die for their faith, because they understood that either way God was in control. Our God is able to deliver us, but if not, he's still on the throne. That's faith.

That other stuff is make-believe. Genuine faith is demonstrated by following God, number one, regardless of the feelings inside of us. Number two, in spite of the circumstances around us.

Number three, no matter what the consequences are before us. I got an email from one of our elders on our elder team, and he said, Stephen, you got to tune in to Fox News. He said, they're going to interview, Huckabee is going to interview Johnny Erikson Tada and her husband. I caught the last two minutes of it, but I was able to catch just enough of it to hear Johnny, if you know her story, swimming accident, decades now, paralyzed in a wheelchair, used significantly by the Lord. I heard her say to Governor Huckabee, and I went and wrote it down, and by the way, to millions of people who were watching, I want my life to be an audio-visual of the power of God. I want my life to be an audio-visual of the power of God. And has it ever been, and you think, wait a second, how?

She can't walk. That would be a demonstration of the power of God, wouldn't it? No, she's testifying that while God has not erased her trial, he has joined her in it, he has given her grace to persevere in it, and she knows by faith the gospel, that one day he will release her from it.

That is faith. Like Peter the apostle who wrote, don't be surprised by a trial of fire, no matter what it is, no matter how long it lasts, it cannot in any conceivable way compare to the joy of that day, one day, when we see Jesus Christ face to face. Thanks for listening today. I'm Scott Wiley, and on behalf of Stephen and the Wisdom International team, I wish you a happy Thanksgiving.

I hope you'll have an enjoyable holiday. In addition to equipping you with these daily Bible messages, we also have a magazine that will be available to you on our website at And if you have any questions, we'll be equipping you with these daily Bible messages. We also have a magazine that we publish monthly.

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In that time, he's preached hundreds of sermons. All of those are posted to our website. You'll find that collection of sermons organized by Book of the Bible. If there's a particular book that you want to study, and if Stephen has preached through it, you can listen or read each message.

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The school offers a unique program that might interest some of you. How would your life be impacted if you were to set aside one year to study God's Word, experience authentic community, grow in discipleship, take a trip to do some study in Israel, and earn your master's degree in theological studies, all in one year? Shepherd's Seminary offers a program called the Shepherd's Institute, and you can experience all that I just described. We've had men and women join us right out of college and before entering the workforce. We've had men join us who believed they were called to be a pastor. They did this program to start their education and then jumped into the Master of Divinity program. Whatever God has called you to, investing one year like this will help you.

The school has campuses in North Carolina, Florida, Wyoming, and Texas. We also have an opportunity for you to save a little bit of money because we have a discount code you can use to get a free application to Shepherd's Seminary. When you apply, simply use the word WISDOM. Again, that discount code is WISDOM, and that will give you a free application to Shepherd's Seminary. Visit, scroll all the way to the bottom of the page, and you'll see a link to Shepherd's Seminary. Thanks again for listening today. I'm glad you were with us. We'll have another message from God's Word tomorrow, so join us on Wisdom for the Heart. Copyright © 2020, New Thinking Allowed Foundation
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-01 18:55:03 / 2022-12-01 19:05:19 / 10

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