These three guys have done nothing wrong.
In fact, they would get our applause. They love God, they serve God, they're loyal to God's name, and yet they are facing the trial of their lives. They are faced with an ethical dilemma. Obey the government and bow or obey God's command. God is the one who said, I am the Lord your God. You shall have no other gods besides me. The world wants you to sit down and be quiet, but God wants you to stand up and speak out.
Today on Connect with Skip Heitzig. Skip explains how there's a cost when you stand up for God, but God can use it to make the world look up to him. Now, here's a pair of resources that can help you get the most out of your time in God's Word. So it's another new year and you've resolved to study through the entire Bible again. Very often, somewhere around 2 Chronicles, that wonderful goal can grind to a halt.
Well, this year can be different. We have a package of resources with an excellent strategy for successfully studying through all 66 books this year. It includes Skip Heitzig's book, The Bible from 30,000 Feet, which lifts you to a new biblical altitude to help you get a new view of the full counsel of God's Word.
Make 2023 the year you truly make it through a solid survey of the entire scope of Scripture. This package also includes Skip's super accessible book, How to Study the Bible and Enjoy It, along with The Bible from 30,000 Feet. Both are our thanks when you give $50 or more today to help reach more people through Connect with Skip Heitzig. Skip has asked the team at Connection Communications to make it a priority in 2023 to take daily messages as you've heard today and expand them into more metropolitan areas. It is obvious that the population centers of our nation are in deep need of hearing the truth, and that is exactly our plan for the future with Skip's teachings. Will you help us make that happen? Call 800-922-1888 or give online securely at connectwithskip.com slash offer.
That's connectwithskip.com slash offer. Okay, we're in Daniel chapter three today as we join Skip for this teaching. The three men in the story we're about to read are men who dared to stand up while everybody else around them bowed down, and because of that they faced the trial of their lives, a burning fiery furnace. This chapter is one of the most well-known in all of scripture and best loved stories. If you grew up in Sunday school you're familiar with it, but I want to look at these 30 verses in three different cuts, three different slices, because of three different truths and principles they bring out. Number one, the world wants you to shut up, but your God, number two, wants you to speak up, stand up. And number three, and we'll see this at the end of the chapter, your opponents may learn to look up.
That's the flow that we get as we go through chapter three of Daniel. We look now at verse one and it says, Nebuchadnezzar the king, we remember him. He made an image of gold whose height was 60 cubits, it's with six cubits. He set it up in the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. And king Nebuchadnezzar sent word to gather together the satraps, those are princes, the administrators, the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the judges, the magistrates, the officials of the provinces to come to the palace. The officials of the provinces to come to the dedication of the image which king Nebuchadnezzar had set up. And so the satraps and the rest of these nincompoops gathered together for the dedication of the image that king Nebuchadnezzar had set up. And they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up and a herald cried aloud, to you it is commanded, O peoples, nations, and languages, that at the time you hear the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, and symphony, with all kinds of music, you shall fall down and worship the gold image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up. And whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. So at that time when all the people heard the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and symphony, with all kinds of music, all the people, nations, and languages fell down and worshiped the gold image which king Nebuchadnezzar had set up. If we were to simply read this without the benefit of chapter two we would say, so what? This is just another example of a pagan king putting up another idol.
Been there, done that. But we do have the benefit of chapter two and a couple of ancient sources tell us that there is 16 year gap between chapter two and chapter three. Now let's piece a couple things together. 16 years have come and gone, a lot of water under the bridge. 16 years ago Nebuchadnezzar had a dream, that's chapter two. Nobody could tell him what it was, nobody could tell him what it meant, except for Daniel. Daniel came and said, what it means is that you are the head of gold Nebuchadnezzar, but after you shall arise a kingdom inferior to yours.
You're not the only dog on the block, somebody else is going to push you off the hill and be king after you. That was 16 years ago. Nebuchadnezzar has been waiting for 16 years, he has not grown weaker, he has since grown stronger. And after waiting for this dream to be fulfilled, he now makes a golden image. You think he's making a statement?
Do you think he has something to say? He is in effect saying, nuts to the gold and the bronze and the iron and the clay, nuts to other kingdoms who will come after me. I am invincible. I'm going to make an image whose head is not of gold, but the entire thing is made out of gold, as if to say my kingdom is an eternal kingdom, which historians tell us was the idea of the Babylonians.
They insisted their kingdom would outlast even time. This is important because so often we think, well just give this problem some time. Just give that person some time. Time will soften them up. Time will heal all wounds. Sometimes that's true, but not always.
Sometimes as time wears on, a person doesn't soften the heart, but hardens the heart. Things can grow worse rather than better. We have a warning given to us in the book of Hebrews chapter 2.
I'll read it to you. We must listen very carefully to the truth we have heard or we may drift away from it. That is the tendency of people, us, as we listen to truth that we heard a long time ago, but we're not affected by it. As time goes on, we drift away from it. There are some truths you may have heard as a child and wow they were special to you.
They made an impact on you, but not so much now. You perhaps have drifted away as Nebuchadnezzar did from a very ominous revelation that shook his world, but now he's not as affected by it. In effect, Nebuchadnezzar is in love with Nebuchadnezzar.
The whole idea of this statue is him showing himself off. Now in the next chapter, we get another glimpse into this. In chapter 4, this king will walk through Babylon and will declare as he looks around, is not this the great Babylon that I have built by my majesty and for my glory?
Of course, God will have a message to give to him after he says that. Vernon McGee tells of a downtown Los Angeles store, a business that put a giant mirror out in front where people walked every day. They wanted to study human beings walking by the mirror and how many would stop and look at themselves, check themselves out, turn around, kind of do a little, hmm, I am very, very cool, kind of a deal. And they discovered that a lot of people did stop, but get this, men stopped more and looked at themselves longer than women did.
Just thought you'd like to hear that, gals. This gold image in the plane of Dura is what Nebuchadnezzar saw as he looks in the mirror, a 90-foot tall statue of gold, not head of gold, one that is imposing and ominous and will last over time. I can't resist something that I noted I want to pass on to you. You'll notice that it's 60 cubits by six, that this worship system is enforced. You have to bow down to it or you will die. And the reason that's important to me is if I fast forward to the book of Revelation chapter 13, I read about another image that will be cast and another enforced worship that will take place around the entire world of the Antichrist. People are told to bow down to the image and the text of scripture says, here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. His number is 666, the number of man.
So here is the six million dollar man, the image, or the 666 million dollar man, I suppose. Nebuchadnezzar is the quintessential humanist, magnifying humanity, diminishing God. That's what the statue is about. But if we keep reading, we find that the demand to bow is met by defiance.
There's three guys in the crowd who make a stand. Verse eight, therefore at that time, certain Chaldeans came forward and accused the Jews. They spoke and said to King Nebuchadnezzar, oh king, live forever. You, oh king, have made a decree that everyone who hears the sound of all these instruments shall fall down and worship the golden image. Whoever does not fall down and worship will be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.
Now look at this. There are certain Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These men, oh king, have not paid due regard to you. They do not serve your gods or worship the gold image.
Which you have set up. I heard about a preacher who could never remember the names of these guys, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and he wanted to tell his congregation this story one Sunday as an illustration. So he wrote the names Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego on a card and put them right here in a suit pocket.
The idea is that during the message, you could just sort of open it up and glance down and tell them the names and go on. It didn't work out that way. It didn't work out so well because he said, well, you guys remember the story, don't you, of Hart, Schaffner, and Marx.
That's the name of a suit company. He read the wrong label. Three Hebrews, yes, but the wrong ones. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were names given to these Jewish captives by the king in changing their names.
We read on. Then, verse 13, Nebuchadnezzar in rage and fury gave the command to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. So they brought these men before the king. Nebuchadnezzar spoke saying to them, is it true Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego that you do not serve my gods or worship the gold image which I have set up?
Now, if you are ready at the time you hear the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, psaltery, and symphony with all kinds of music, and you fall down and worship the image that I have made, good. But if you do not worship, you shall be cast immediately into the midst of the burning fiery furnace and the fiery furnace and who is the god who will deliver you from my hands? Now, these three guys have done nothing wrong.
In fact, they would get our applause. They love God, they serve God, they're loyal to God's name, and yet they are facing the trial of their lives. They are faced with an ethical dilemma. Obey the government and bow or obey God's command. God is the one who said, I am the Lord your God. You shall have no other gods besides me.
Well, they're going to pick option number two, but that is the dilemma that Nebuchadnezzar gives to them. You and I, we face the same pressure, different circumstances, same pressure. The pressure to conform, the pressure to not stand up or stick out, but go along with the crowd.
Be quiet, blend in, be like everybody else. W.C. Fields, remember him? W.C. Fields, that great intellect, said something very profound. He said, any dead fish can float downstream. Of course, he said, any dead fish can float downstream. He said, it takes a live one to swim upstream. They're banking on the fact that everyone will do what everybody else does, that there will be a mass conformity.
In fact, there is for the most part. In verse seven, all people and nations and languages fell down and worshiped the gold image, but these three did not. They kept standing. I remember the first time I went to Israel. I was single and I went to live on a kibbutz, a farm, a working farm, and I just could not wait to go to the Holy Land. I thought, this is going to be the most exciting. I'm going to wake up every day and feel the presence of God.
It's going to be so holy and awesome and wonderful. I was in for a shock. It was a trial because in that day, at that time, on that kibbutz, volunteers from all over the world, young kids came to work, but I discovered that the Europeans that came my age all came to party. They wanted to work, but at night it was all party and there was lots of things going on.
It was loose living. A lot of temptation came my way to conform to that because I was young and single and of that age. I was so glad I had other believers with me on that kibbutz that I came with and we could strengthen each other. In fact, I'm convinced that's why Jesus sent his disciples out two by two and why Paul the Apostle often went with other people around him to strengthen the choices that he was making.
So these three, encouraging each other, stand up against the mass conformity of bowing down. Did you notice number 12, verse 12? There are certain Jews, I can't help but read a little cynicism into that. Antisemitism is nothing new and these Chaldeans have been waiting for 16 years because 16 years when that dream had been interpreted Nebuchadnezzar gave a promotion, a raise to Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and the other Chaldeans were waiting for an opportunity just like this to get back. There are certain Jews, they say. They're brought before the king.
Let's go on and see what happens. Verse 16 shows us the second slice of this message. Yeah, the world wants you to shut up but your God wants you to stand up. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter.
Isn't that interesting? That's their way of saying we're not at a loss for words here. This is a no-brainer for us. We already know what the answer is going to be. We don't have to think about this long. If that is the case, verse 17, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace and he will deliver us from your hand, O king.
Now notice the twist. 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. No explanation is offered, no long elaborate explanation. Just simply, no. We're not going to do it. We don't have to think about this, no.
Now pause here a minute. Couldn't these three guys have done something different? Couldn't they have come up with a different approach? Maybe a little rationalization would be fitting at this moment. For example, they could have thought, well, you know, Nebuchadnezzar, he's treated us pretty well.
He's given us a good job and a good pay scale and we should at least show our appreciation to him and just bow, get it over with. Or perhaps they could have thought, it's really not idolatry if we just get down quickly and get back up and the rest of our lives serve the Lord. Or perhaps they could have rationalized by saying, look, we're thousands of miles away from home. Nobody will see us. We should at least show our look, we're thousands of miles away from home.
Nobody will see us. And besides, didn't God through the prophets predict that we would be taken captive and serve other gods in a foreign land? We'd just be fulfilling scripture if we were to bow.
Maybe this is God's will that we bow. It shows you how warped we get when we start rationalizing. We're really good at rationalizing, you know that.
We have an infinite ability to do so. Just asking anybody on a diet. We're good at rationalizing why we need that extra pastry.
I found some other rationalizations about that. Rules for dieting. If you drink diet coke with chocolate, the calories in the chocolate are canceled out by the diet coke.
That's how we think, isn't it? Foods like hot chocolate or cheesecake for medicinal purposes don't count. Comfort food, sort of like medical marijuana. Cookie pieces have no calories. The process of breaking the cookies causes calorie loss. Isn't it funny how we'll take a little break, a little piece of it, but we're going to eat the whole thing, but we'll do it in pieces. Somehow it makes us feel better. And finally, things licked off of knives and spoons have no calories if you're in the process of preparing something else. We rationalize.
These three men did not rationalize the decision that they made. We don't have to think about it. We don't have to ponder it.
We don't have to make a defense for ourselves. We're not going to bow. God can deliver us.
If not, not going to do it. God's people throughout Scripture often go against the flow. That's what Paul encourages us to do. Romans chapter 12, do not be conformed to this world, but transformed by the renewing of your mind. Or as the J.B. Phillips translation puts it best, don't let the world squeeze you into its own mold.
They didn't. Verse 17, again notice, if this is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us. But if not, verse 18, let it be known to you, O king, we do not serve your gods. Let me re-translate that. We serve a sovereign God who can deliver us, and He will deliver us in life or by death.
Either way, it's a deliverance from you, O king. It's remarkable. If you want to get a good book on suffering, get a book that was put out a few years ago by Yancey, Philip Yancey, called Where is God When it Hurts? In that book, he writes a story about an athlete by the name of Brian Sternberg. Sternberg was a pole vaulter, and he set record after record after record, and one time he set a new world record. Three weeks after he set that record, he was pole vaulting again, cleared the pole, but this time when he landed, he landed on his neck. He heard it snap, and then he felt and then he felt nothing. And from that day forward was a quadriplegic consigned to a wheelchair. Less than a year after the accident, a major magazine in America asked him to write an article about his athletic career, the accident, and how he, as a Christian, because he claimed he was one, was dealing with the fact that he was now in a wheelchair as a quadriplegic.
He wrote that article. I'll just give you the last four short sentences of it. He writes, having faith is a necessary step toward one of two things. Being healed is one of them, but peace of mind if healing does not occur is the other. Either one will suffice. Close quote. Faith to be healed.
Faith to have peace if I don't get healed. Either one will suffice. Either one will suffice. Here's these three guys before the king. We might be delivered miraculously. We might die. Either one will suffice.
Either one. That's Skip Hyten with a message from the series I Dare You. Find the full message as well as books, booklets, and full teaching series at connectwithskip.com. Now, we want to tell you about an opportunity you have to take your knowledge of God's word to a deeper level. Going to church is a great way to learn about God, but what if you want to learn more?
Go deeper. This spring, Calvary College is offering classes in spiritual growth, classes like spiritual foundations. Learn how to joyfully walk with Jesus. Take evening classes on campus or online, and transfer credits to Calvary Chapel University or Veritas International University for an accredited degree that will impact your spiritual life for the rest of your life. Apply now at calvarychurchcollege.com. God uses the generosity of friends like you to impact so many lives around the world. One listener sent a note to say, I very much enjoy and have learned so much from the messages on the fruit of the fruit of the fruit of the fruit of the fruit of the fruit of the fruit of the fruit of the fruit of the fruit.
In depth Bible study, like I have never heard. And that's exactly what you're invited to do today. In this new year, Skip wants to see these daily messages taken into more of the major cities in our country. Will you help us make that happen? Give a gift today at connectwithskip.com That's connectwithskip.com slash donate or call 800-922-1888.
Again, that's 800-922-1888. Thank you. Join us tomorrow as Skip Heitzig shows you how your life can speak volumes for God as you trust him through trials. Make a connection, make a connection at the foot of the crossing. Cast all burdens on his word. Make a connection, connection. Connect with Skip Heitzig is a presentation of Connection Communications, connecting you to God's never changing truth in ever changing times.
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