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Uncompromising Faith in the Fiery Furnace, Part 2 B

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
April 20, 2023 4:00 am

Uncompromising Faith in the Fiery Furnace, Part 2 B

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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Listen, we can set the world on its ear. We can turn the pagan world around in a tizzy, literally, by living an uncompromising life, so that in their, even in their unbelief they will have to say that ours is the Most High God. Even in their unbelief they will have to say, Blessed be the God of those folks. Welcome to Grace to You with John MacArthur.

I'm your host, Phil Johnson. You'll probably hear the term flip-flopper around election season. It's meant to disparage politicians who switch from one position to another. They flip-flop on political issues.

Of course, you don't have to be in politics to flip-flop on your beliefs. Maybe you've found yourself tempted to compromise your Christian convictions in the things you say or decisions you make or what you read or watch or listen to, and that's dangerous territory. So how do you stand on convictions under light pressure or intense pressure?

When consequences are minor or when they're serious? Find out today as John MacArthur continues his series titled An Uncompromising Life. And with that, here's John with a lesson. Now as we approach the third chapter of Daniel, we're going to meet three young men who functioned on internal principle and they didn't really care what the external pressure was.

And as followers of Jesus Christ, I think we have a lot to learn from these three young men. Now the story unfolds with eight key features. We go then from the ceremony to the command to the conspiracy to the coercion and finally the courage, verse 16. This is the climax.

It's just fabulous. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, now we're right there, folks. What are they going to say? Oh, Nebuchadnezzar. They don't give them all that long live the king stuff. Oh, Nebuchadnezzar, we're not careful to answer thee in this matter.

I love that. Well what does that mean? Well basically, we just don't have anything to say.

It isn't arrogant. There just was nothing to say. They were simply admitting their guilt.

We have nothing to say to you by way of a denial and we have nothing to say to you by way of an explanation because explanations won't mean a thing and so we just are not concerned about giving you an answer at all. We're standing and that's the way we'll remain. They had faithfully served Nebuchadnezzar as far as they could.

This was going too far. And then comes the sublime statement. In fact, maybe the most sublime statement any mortal ever makes in the whole of the Bible. Maybe the greatest affirmation of true faith anywhere in Holy Scripture, verse 17 and 18. If it be so, our God, whom we serve, and that's pretty direct, is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace and He will deliver us out of your hand, O King, one way or another. But if not, be it known unto thee, O King, that we will not serve thy gods nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up. End of speech. Period paragraph. No rationalization, no dialogue, no, well, what would you like us to do?

Could we bend down halfway? None of that. We don't have any defense, they say. We don't have any answer.

We don't have any out. We have absolutely nothing to say except our God whom we serve is greater than you. And He'll deliver us out of your burning fiery furnace and even if He doesn't, we still aren't going to bow down.

Oh, what a sublime statement. What faith these young men had. What courage.

We all agree with that and it's easy here in this comfortable place. They were standing on the edge of the fiery furnace. They're testimony was unflinching and unwavering and their faith held true in the worst moment. Beloved, I submit to you that this is because they were absolutely committed to internal principle. They had been taught the Word of God and they knew that they were to respond in a certain manner based upon the truth of God and they would not compromise that no matter what the external pressures were, what virtue. And it wasn't dependent on whether or not they got their miracle. They would accept God's will even if it meant death rather than be idolatrous. Oh, I'm telling you, if there's anything we can give this world, it's this kind of a spirit.

It's an uncompromising, unflinching integrity that says I will stand true to my God if it costs me my life. And we bow, don't we, all the time to the idols to gain whatever we want to gain among the people of this world. They knew the blindness of that heathen king.

They knew their lengthy explanations were useless. They simply commit themselves to God. And like Job in Job 13, 15, they said, though he slay me, yet will I trust him. They knew that what happened to their bodies was not the issue but that their soul had to be riveted on the truth of God. This is for us people, an uncompromising life that will not bow to any idol no matter what the cost. The idol of popularity, the idol of comfort, the idol of fame, the idol of respectability in the world, none of those idols can make us bow.

There is no compromise for one who stands like this. God is just as good when He doesn't heal as He is when He does. God is just as loving when He doesn't provide all that we think we need as when He does. God is just as gracious when He says no as He is when He says yes.

God is God and God is to be uncompromisingly worshiped and what He does is His business. You might sum it up by saying, in God's case, death is as good as life, right? Paul said it, for to me to live is Christ and to die is what?

Gain. Death never put any fear in his heart. Death never forced him to compromise.

He put his head one day on a block and an ax head flashed in the sun and severed it from his body and he never flinched and compromised. Is our faith so real that there's no price to make us bow down? Martin Luther in loneliness on his way to face the inevitable hour of excommunication at what is known as the Diet of Worms to appear before King Charles V and the Roman prelate and all of the princes assembled said this, it's a great word, quote Martin Luther. My cause shall be commended to the Lord for He lives and reigns who preserved the three children in the furnace of the Babylonian king. If He is unwilling to preserve me, my life is a small thing compared with Christ.

Expect anything of me except flight or recantation. I will not flee, much less recant, so may the Lord Jesus strengthen me, end quote. He took his cue from those three Hebrews.

He didn't say, deliver me. He said, if God wants to take my life, it is a small thing. So with these great men of God and others, we stand before the presence of the pressure of the world to bow to its idols unflinching and unwavering. And someone has written, the dearest idol I have known, whate'er that idol be, help me to tear it from its throne and worship only Thee. No wonder in 1 John 5, 21, John closes Marvelous Epistle with the words, keep yourselves from idols. So we see the ceremony, the command, the conspiracy, the coercion and the courage and now the consequences.

And we'll just look at this very rapidly. Verse 19, well after that little deal, Nebuchadnezzar was full of fury. In verse 13 it says he had rage and fury, now he's full of it. And the form of his visage was changed.

You know what that means? That means he screwed up his face. He was so mad that he began to wrinkle up his face and make faces at him. This is a grown man.

Stupid. He is so thwarted in his egomaniacal effort to have everybody worship him. He's just literally enraged and he starts making faces at them.

And he spoke and now he does a stupid thing. He commands that they heat the furnace seven times more than it was usually heated. Now you say, boy, he wants that thing to really burn.

Yeah, but that's dumb. If you wanted to really torture somebody, you'd turn the heat down and prolong it. Heat it up seven times hotter just means it'll be less trauma. Here we are in the court full of spineless flatterers and men-pleasers and we see these three young men confounding and confusing and turning Nebuchadnezzar into some kind of an idiot. And so he says, heat it seven times hotter than it should be. Verse 20, he commanded the most mighty men that were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and cast them into the burning fiery furnace. As far as we know this, trying to reconstruct this, it was probably a pit in the ground that had some kind of an opening down low and at the top there was an open hole and they were thrown in the open hole though the fire was stoked and fed from below.

And Nebuchadnezzar could have some kind of a balcony that he could look down through that opening in the top to see what was going on. And so the fire is hotter and hotter and hotter and he calls on the strong men, that is the best soldiers, probably his own personal bodyguard, to tie them up and then cast them into the burning fiery furnace. And then these men were bound in their coats, their stockings, their turbans and their other garments and cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. Now what's interesting about this is the coats and the garments and the turbans and the stockings indicates that they were dressed to kill.

And the king was so furious he never altered that at all. They were all dressed up and I think the kind of a hint here from the Holy Spirit that they had really come to do what was right as those who responded to the king. They were not rebellious. They were properly attired for such a great event. They just couldn't follow through in disobedience to their God and so they're wrapped up in a great big hurry.

Their clothes weren't even changed. They just wrapped them up and threw them in the midst of the fiery furnace, as I said, likely from a hole in the top. Now immediately they knew God was not going to save them from the fire. That became abundantly clear as they were on their way in.

Plan B. If you can't get saved from the fire, you hope to get saved in the fire. And that's what happened. So they knew they were not going to be able to escape the experience, but they were trusting God to suffer through the experience to His glory. Maybe they were remembering the comforting words of Isaiah 43 2, when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned, neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. That would have been a comfort to them, wouldn't it?

Well, the soldiers didn't have it so well. Verse 22, therefore, because the king's commandment was urgent, he was completely out of control, and the furnace exceedingly hot, the flame of the fire slew those men that took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. The soldiers that threw them in all burned to death. Here they were on the outside burned to death, and the others were on the inside having a great time. They died in the fire. Verse 23, and these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down, and that's why we believe there was a hole at the top and they were cast down, bound into the midst of the burning, fiery furnace. We move from the consequences to the companion in verse 24. Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astounded and rose up in a hurry and spoke and said unto his counselors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?

They answered and said unto the king, True, O king. He answered and said, Lo, I see four men, not bound, but loose, walking around in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt, and the form of the fourth is like a son of the gods." Now you think Nebuchadnezzar was shook when this started. He is really shook now. He is seated at a comfortable distance able to see through this hole and what's going on. He looks in there and many things astounded. First he sees four, not three. Then he sees that they are not bound, but they're loose. They're not lying down, they're walking around.

They're not burning up and roasting, they're completely unhurt. The fourth one looks like a son of the gods and they weren't looking for the exit, they were just patiently waiting and enjoying each other's company. What about the phrase a son of the gods?

Who is that? Nebuchadnezzar was a pagan. He wouldn't have known the Son of God if he'd have seen Him.

He wouldn't have understood a pre-incarnate Christophany or appearance of Christ such as we find in Genesis 18. I believe that what Nebuchadnezzar had in his mind with that statement is simply an angelic being because over in verse 28 of the same chapter he uses the word angel. It seems to me that Nebuchadnezzar recognized a supernatural spiritual being that he would equate with an angel. Some would like to believe that it was Christ and it may well have been. Others believe it was an angel and frankly, folks, there's no way to be certain about it at all.

We know Christ did appear at certain times in the Old Testament, but whether it was Christ in a special appearance prior to His incarnation in earth or whether it was an angel is really not the issue. The point is, I believe that God sent that angel into that fiery furnace to explain to those three guys what was going on. And they were walking around and He was telling them, I'm sent from God to preserve you in the midst of this fire. You're not going to be burned.

We'll just enjoy our fellowship until the next scene in the drama. I believe they knew they weren't burning and God sent His angel to care for them. When the Bible says that the Lord says in Hebrews 13, 5, I will never leave you or forsake you, I think God means that. And I think God sends those who are His angels to care for us in the midst of dire circumstances. Years before Elijah had been similarly honored by having God's angel sent personally to serve him food at a time he was terribly discouraged.

You can read it in 1 Kings 19. How wonderful to know it is to know that we go through no experiences where God is not there in divine companionship. And the hotter the fire, the sweeter the fellowship. You know, I can tell you folks in my own experience that whenever I get into a situation where I decide to take a stand for something and it's the unpopular thing to do, and you start getting flack, you have this tremendous sense of divine companionship. It's what Peter talked about when he talked about the fact that when we go through persecution, the spirit of grace and glory rests on us. I have this overwhelming sense of the presence of God strengthening. And here they were in the fiery furnace in divine companionship. So the ceremony, the command, the conspiracy, the coercion, the courage, the consequence, the companionship, and lastly, believe it or not, the commendation, the commendation. And this is very simple to see, verse 26, then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace and spoke and said, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, you servants of the Most High God.

How do you know that? Well it was obvious he had met his match. Come forth! Come here!

I love this. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came forth from the midst of the fire. You got to believe Nebuchadnezzar was rubbing his eyes all this time. Here we go again. And the princes, the governors, the captains, the kings, counselors being gathered together saw these men upon whose body the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them.

Now they did an investigation. When I was in college one time, I needed to buy a sport coat, and I didn't have any money. My mother always sent me cookies, not money. But, so I needed a sport coat and a store burned down in the town where our college was, and so I decided to go to the fire sale. I'll never forget that coat. The smell of it lingers with me even now. I wore that coat for about three years in college and it never stopped smelling. In fact, when people would come around me, they would just sniff automatically. If you've ever been through a fire, you know the smell of smoke that gets into clothes just doesn't ever get out.

And so they give them this, you know, full investigation and they're not a hair singed, and their garments aren't even changed in terms of being burned at all, and there's not even the smell of fire on them. And Nebuchadnezzar spoke and said, now watch this, blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. You say, ah, the conversion of Nebuchadnezzar.

Wrong. In verse 26, he says, the Most High God, He is not abandoning his polytheism, he's just sticking this God on the top of the pile, that's all. He is not saying the one true God.

He is just saying you've got to be the supreme one, that's all. He is maintaining his traditional polytheism, many gods. And here when he says, blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, he is simply acknowledging what theologians call henotheism, and that is the belief that certain people and certain nations have their own gods. And in a henotheistic way, he has room in his polytheism for the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and he is willing to say at this point that this is the Most High God of all the gods. That's a far cry from saying he's the only God, isn't it? Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants who trusted in him and hath changed the king's word and yielded their bodies that they might not serve nor worship any god except their own God. He says, I just have to bless the God of these people who wouldn't compromise and wouldn't worship any other god. And I love this statement, verse 28, they yielded their what?

Their bodies. What verse does that sound like? Romans 12, 1. Present your bodies a what? A living sacrifice and be not conformed to this world.

That's exactly what they did. You want an illustration of Romans 12, 1, and 2, here it is. They yielded their bodies, and he says, blessed be the God who can get that kind of allegiance out of his people.

Listen, we can set the world on its ear. We can turn the pagan world around in a tizzy, literally, by living an uncompromising life so that even in their unbelief they will have to say that ours is the most high God. Even in their unbelief they will have to say, blessed be the God of those folks. Any god who could draw that kind of allegiance must be some god. And then the commendation, verse 29, therefore I make a decree that every people, nation, and language who speak anything amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a refuse heap. And that was the ultimate desecration, to take a person's house and make it a dung pile, a sewage place, because there is no other god that can deliver after this sort. And then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the province of Babylon.

And when you already rule and you get promoted, that's some promotion. If you think the Chaldeans were unhappy at the beginning of chapter 3, you can imagine what it was like at the end of chapter 3. He says, anybody who speaks a word against their god is going to be cut in pieces and their houses will be made a refuse heap. Nebuchadnezzar isn't dumb. He's determined that he's going to be nice to this god because if ever he wanted anything, he wants this god on his side. One of the coaches in the National Football League was asked why he always had a Christian minister on the sideline. He said, do you believe in God? He said, well, I'm not really sure, but in case there's one, I want him on my side. That's Nebuchadnezzar.

He wanted him on his side. Now let me close just quickly. You and I will probably never face a fiery furnace, right? Probably never will. But you're going to face trials by fire, believe me.

And so am I. And they're going to come from several sources. First of all, Satan afflicts us. He afflicted Jesus and tempted him. He goes around, says Peter is a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. He is the accuser of the brethren. He wants to plant evil thoughts.

Paul himself said he received a messenger from Satan sent to buffet him. Satan is going to afflict us through the avenue of the flesh. Secondly, the world is going to torment us. The world is going to try to lure us. The world is going to try to persecute us.

The world is going to try to force us to compromise. And believe it or not, God will even bring trials into our life, testing our faith, right? In Hebrews chapter 12, it talks about how God afflicts us with chastening. So we're going to have the trials, some from Satan, some from the world, and some that God allows. But in all of this, the end result is that we may be refined and that we may stand courageous and uncompromising. The hymn writer says, When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie, my grace all sufficient shall be thy supply. The flame shall not hurt thee, I only design. Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine, you see.

Let's pray. Father, I'm remembering that when a warrior went to battle in medieval times, the first thing he had to do was kneel and bend his sword over his knee to see if it would break. He needed to know that it would hold up in the heat of the great battle. And Lord, we are your swords in many ways and there are times when you bend us over your knee to see if we'll break. And if we don't break, then you use us to win mighty victories. May we trust in your great delivering power. May we allow the tensions and tests and trials that come our way to be those things which refine us like gold. And may we not compromise and forfeit the blessedness that is ours when we stand true. And may we know that through it all there will be standing at our side, one like a son of the gods, a divine companion to strengthen us in the midst of battle. Make us an uncompromising people that like these young men we may stand firm that the world may say, blessed is the God of this person who could call from them such yieldedness. May that be our testimony for Christ's sake.

Amen. That's John MacArthur, pastor, chancellor of the Masters University and Seminary and Bible teacher here on Grace to You. Today's lesson on the integrity displayed by Daniel's friends is from John's current series titled An Uncompromising Life. You know, it's been said that if a person doesn't have integrity, he doesn't have anything. John, that may overstate things a bit, but without a doubt, unwavering character can make or break a person's effectiveness. That's true on the job, in the home, in the church and ministry.

Well absolutely. You have to be consistent with what you say you believe. There's nothing more devastating, more debilitating, more destructive to a person's life and influence than to be espousing something you don't live. I mean, we see that when we see some pastor who has been, you know, preaching and proclaiming Christ and all of that, caught in some horrendous scandal, some iniquitous situation that is exposed, and the hypocrisy is just horrifying.

That's the worst possible scenario. But at any level, among any believers who profess Christ to have some kind of a secret life of shame and sin is just to undermine everything you say you believe and undermine your influence, your testimony, and your witness. It's important that we develop character that undergirds our stated convictions.

Let me just let you know, we have a wonderful little gift book, hardcover. It's not long, but it's really profound and to the point called The Quest for Character. The Quest for Character.

It's a wake-up call, a reminder that God condemns iniquity and exalts virtue and sets you on a path to develop the kind of character that's worthy of God's blessing. It's available from Grace to You. You can order The Quest for Character. Great gift book as well. Yes, friend, this book does make a great gift.

It also will help you grow in character that resists temptation, and it will help you develop the attitudes that bear witness to a Christ-transformed life. You can order your copy of the book, The Quest for Character, when you contact us today. To reach our customer service team, call us during regular business hours, 855 GRACE. You can also order online at any time.

Go to GTY.org. The Quest for Character shows you why the Bible alone points the way to a life that truly pleases the Lord. It will help you see that path clearly and stay on it day by day, year after year.

The title of this book again, The Quest for Character. The price is $12 and shipping is free. To order, call 855 GRACE or go to GTY.org. And friend, just a reminder that your financial support is what allows this Bible teaching radio program to reach neighborhoods like yours, both here in the United States and around the world.

These broadcasts help strengthen God's people with biblical truth, and they bring the gospel to non-believers. Again, that sort of life-changing ministry is possible because of the support of friends like you. To make a donation, call 855 GRACE or you can write to us at Box 4000, Panorama City, California 91412. You can also give at our website GTY.org. Now for John MacArthur and the entire Grace To You staff. I'm Phil Johnson, encouraging you to be here tomorrow for fresh insight on the story of Daniel in the lion's den. It's another half hour of unleashing God's truth, one verse at a time, on Grace To You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-20 05:24:13 / 2023-04-20 05:35:12 / 11

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