Share This Episode
Summit Life J.D. Greear Logo

Courage in Babylon

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
March 9, 2022 9:00 am

Courage in Babylon

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

On-Demand Podcasts NEW!

This broadcaster has 1010 podcast archives available on-demand.

Broadcaster's Links

Keep up-to-date with this broadcaster on social media and their website.

March 9, 2022 9:00 am

Through the famous story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, we will see an example of courage that could only come from faith in God. These three young men knew that God was bigger than anything life can throw at us.

Our Daily Bread Ministries
Various Hosts
Connect with Skip Heitzig
Skip Heitzig
Connect with Skip Heitzig
Skip Heitzig
Connect with Skip Heitzig
Skip Heitzig
Encouraging Word
Don Wilton
Encouraging Word
Don Wilton

Today on Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. You can't bifurcate Jesus. He's either Lord or he is not. You're either fully surrendered to him or you're living in rebellion. And y'all, you understand that if God is the only God, then for us to say anything different is cruel, not just wrong. It's cruel. Welcome to Summit Life with J.D. Greer.

I'm your host, Molly Vidovitch. Our journey today takes us to the fiery furnace of Daniel chapter three. Through the famous story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, we'll see an example of courage that could only come from faith in God. These three young men knew that God was bigger than anything life could throw at them. And more importantly, that God was better than anything death could take away. That is some serious courage being displayed there.

So what does courage look like in your life right now? Think about it as we turn in our Bibles to the book of Daniel, chapter three. Daniel three. You may not recognize the name Desmond Doss, but you might have seen the movie about his life. It was called Hacksaw Ridge. Desmond Doss was drafted into the U.S. Army in World War II, but he was a pacifist. The way he interpreted the Bible led him to believe that he couldn't cause any violence to anybody else ever. So he couldn't bring himself to carry a gun, but he also loved his country, and he wanted to serve it. So he accepted a position as a medic in a squadron.

And as was depicted in the movie, his pacifism made him the subject of all kinds of ridicule. Then one evening, he was serving in the midst of a battle in Okinawa when the Japanese pinned his unit down on top of a cliff and cut down nearly every man. Many of the men were only wounded, however, but Doss knew that if they stayed wounded overnight, that the vast majority of them would die. So out there in that cliff, it was a rescue operation, was not accessible to anybody.

Anybody who tried to climb up the cliff would be shot down by the Japanese. So Doss rigged up a stretcher that could be lowered by a series of ropes and pulleys to the ground, and then by himself crawling around the battlefield under withering sniper fire, he retrieved every single wounded soldier in his unit one at a time and lowered them to safety below. President Truman recognized Desmond Doss as one of the bravest warriors of World War II, claiming that more than 75 men owed their lives solely to his courage.

And President Truman did something that had never been done before, and that is he awarded Doss the Medal of Honor, a very prestigious honor, to a soldier who had never picked up a gun. Courage. Courage is something that most of us have to learn to possess, and what we're going to see in Daniel 3 is that this courage is an essential quality of any of those of us who would shine in Babylon. Daniel 3 contains one of the Bible's most famous stories. In it, you're going to see the soul of Christian courage, both its substance as well as the fuel that sustains it.

It's the story of Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, or, as I prefer, Rachshach and Benny. Here's what I'm going to show you, is that courage equals confession plus conviction. Courage.

Christian courage equals confession, the right confession, plus conviction. Let me show you what I mean. Daniel 3, verse one.

Let me walk you through the story. Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold whose height was 60 cubits and its breadth six cubits. Then King Nebuchadnezzar sent to gather all the officials of the provinces and to come to the dedication of that image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. And the herald proclaimed aloud, you are commanded, oh, peoples, nations, and languages. That's a very, very important little phrase right there. You might note it there in your Bible. I'm going to come back to it. That when you hear the sound of the horn, the pipe, and the lyre, and the trigon, however you pronounce that, the harp, the bagpipe, the keytar, the kazoo, the harmonic of the Hammond B3 organ, the hammer dulcimer, and every other kind of instrument, you are to fall down and worship the golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up.

Whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be cast into a fiery furnace. Now, first thing we got to notice is that old Neb is a little hard headed. Do you remember how chapter two ended? It ended with Nebuchadnezzar coming to this moment where he recognized God was the only one who could interpret the dream. And he had this dream of this gigantic statue. And the statue, if you remember, had a head of gold that represented him and a body of silver, bronze, and a mixture of iron and clay that represented the kingdoms that would come after the Babylonian kingdom and would conquer its kingdom. And that's how kind of world kingdoms would go. And then in his dream, the stone that was made without hands suddenly came down from heaven and smashed the statue into a billion pieces.

And the wind blew it away until there was not a trace left. That stone, Daniel had explained, was Jesus. And the interpretation was that Jesus would abolish all earthly kingdoms that are erected in independence of Jesus.

And Jesus would establish his own. Well, chapter two ended, like I said, with Nebuchadnezzar responding in amazement, truly Daniel, your God is the God of gods. He's the Lord of all kings. And he's a revealer of mysteries because you've been able to tell me what my wise men have not been able to tell me. But here we are as chapter three opens, Nebuchadnezzar has got a 90 foot statue of himself, gold from top to bottom, requiring that everybody bow down to it.

In other words, not only has he forgotten the lesson from the dream, he's actually made it worse. The fact that it's gold from top to bottom means that in his mind, his kingdom is going to last forever. It's not just a temporary head of gold.

It's gold through and through. I'm the whole thing. The fact that he's having everybody bow down to it means that he believes his kingdom is the most important thing on earth. So for Nebuchadnezzar, what you're about to see is kind of a round two between him and God. And please note, if you will, that little phrase that I directed your attention to in verse four, all the peoples, nations, and languages. Let me tell you why that's so important.

The reason that is important is because it indicates to you that something epic is about to take place. You see, the last time that the peoples, nations, and languages were all together was in Genesis 11, where the human race had united in setting up another tower, another statue, declaring their independence from God. It was called the Tower of Babel. And God had immediately, in that moment, in mercy, scattered them into different peoples, nations, and languages. And then, in the next chapter, Genesis 12, God had called a man named Abram and promised to make of him a great nation that would bless all the peoples of the earth, all the peoples, languages, and nations of the earth, and bring them back together in unity around the throne of the Messiah. The fulfillment of that is going to happen in the book of Revelation, when John the Apostle looks and sees a vast throng of people that no man can number, people from every tribe and tongue and tongue and nation on earth that are gathered around the throne of God, proclaiming, worthy is the Lamb who was slain.

That's how it's going to end. But here in Daniel 3, you got Nebuchadnezzar, who is a usurper attempting to bring the nations back together, united around his greatness. And here's the irony. He is doing it on the exact same spot that the Tower of Babel had been. Remember I pointed that out in Daniel 1? It's all happening in the same spot.

The point is, this is not a little side show. This is the epic battle. This is the battle of the Bible. It is the history of the human race in one story. So how does it go?

How does it go? Well, verse 7, all the instruments start to play. We saw and everybody bows down. We're not exactly sure how many people were there that day. Most scholars say it would have been somewhere around a million people. So I want you just to imagine for a moment this scene.

You've got a million people out there. You've seen Middle Eastern people bow, bow, faces to the ground, rear ends up in the air. You've got a million people bowed down in homage, except what is that?

About 200 yards back. It's three men? No, no, no. It's three teenage boys. Are those the Hebrew boys? There they are, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, standing there.

I'm sure a little awkwardly they're 16 years old. They're standing there in front of a million people. I'm sure they're a little nervous. But there they are a bolt upright with everybody else around them on their faces. Now, I know some of you are right now saying, well, where exactly was Daniel?

That's a great question. Some have speculated maybe he had lapsed in faith and he was bowing down with everybody else, but that doesn't seem likely based on the rest of the stuff that happens in Daniel. Others have speculated that maybe Daniel was out traveling on some kind of international mission, but I don't think that's a great answer either. I think the best answer is found in the last verse of Daniel 2.

If you look back there, you've got your Bible. Daniel 2.49 says that Daniel was put on the king's court, which means that Daniel would have been exempt from participating in this display, and if he were anywhere in this scene, he would have been up on the stage with Nebuchadnezzar. So these three Hebrew guys are the only ones out there in the whole crowd of a million that are not bowing down. Daniel 3, verse 13. Then Nebuchadnezzar, in furious rage, commanded that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be brought to him. So they brought these men before the king.

Nebuchadnezzar answered and said to them, is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you're not serving my gods or worshiping the golden image that I've set up? I'll tell you guys what. I'm gonna give you another chance.

Maybe you didn't hear. I kind of liked you guys, the whole Daniel 1 thing with the eating the vegetables, and that was pretty awesome, and your buddy Daniel, you interpreted my dream. I'm gonna give you another chance. This time, when you hear the sound of every kind of music, fall down and worship the image that I've made.

If you do that, well and good. But if you do not do this in worship, you will immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace, and who is the god? Who's the god then that'll deliver you out of my hands? Now, y'all, I love how these three teenage Hebrew boys answer old Nebuchadnezzar.

Rachshak and Beni say right back to the king, old Nebuchadnezzar. We have no need to answer you in this matter. In other words, we don't need to talk about it. We don't need to huddle. We don't need to deliberate. We don't need a few seconds to think about it.

We don't need a committee meeting. There's only one possible thing for us to do. You see, the god that we serve is able to deliver us from the fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hands, old king.

I love these next words because this is it. This is every part of courage right here, verse 18. But if not, be it known to you, old king, that we will never serve your gods, and we will never worship the golden image that you have set up, no matter what you do to us. Literally everything you need to know about Christian courage is right there in those three verses. Number one, courage's confession is that Jesus is the only lord. Courage's confession is that Jesus is the only lord. I have a theory as to why Nebuchadnezzar was so ticked off.

Do you remember when I showed you how chapter two ended? Chapter two ended with Nebuchadnezzar saying, hey, your god is legit. Your god is not just one of the regular gods.

He's the god of gods and the lord of kings. Nebuchadnezzar acknowledged their gods, so it only seems fair that he, that they, now recognize his authority. Hear this. It was not their faith in God that caused the problem. It was their refusal to also acknowledge the divine authority of Nebuchadnezzar that was the problem. Hear this.

Nothing has changed today. In our Babylon, in our Babylon, the triangle, the United States of America, the world, in our Babylon, your faith in Jesus is not the problem. It is your insistence that he is the only way of salvation and only source of authority that is the problem. You will never get in trouble for saying that Jesus is your personal savior.

But you will get in trouble when you say there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. You will be in trouble when you say that there is no other lord except for him and that that means that he alone sets the rules about what is right and what is not right about sex or morality or marriage or money or anything else he speaks about. You see, our society says, for example, hey, you know what, you Christians, you're free to get married in the traditional way that you want.

You can even reserve sex for the marriage bed, as strange as that seems, if abstinence is your thing. But how dare you label somebody else's choice as a sin? How dare you not bow down to my sexual freedom? How dare you not prostrate yourself during my pride week, for example, affirming that my way is just as valid as Jesus' way? And if you don't do this, our culture will punish you. It may not be throwing you into a fiery furnace right now, but businesses will boycott you or they'll take things like the NCAA tournament or the All-Star game if you will not conform.

It's the same old spirit of Nebuchadnezzar at work in our day. You can do what you want, but you also got to bow to my authority. We all know of small companies that have been literally sued out of business for refusing to participate in ceremonies and practices they found objectionable. I'm going to tell you, in very few of my readings about these things, did the person do it rudely or bigotedly or did the person say like, hey, I don't think these people should be allowed to do this. We live in a free country. We understand that and they can do what they want. But this person just said, look, I respect your right as a free citizen to do what you're going to do, but I would also ask you to respect my right to not be involved in it personally since it goes against my convictions.

But because they would not bow where they were supposed to bow, they were sued and shut down. One of President Biden's advisors has indicated that if this equality act is passed, which mandates societal acceptance of these things, then religious organizations and churches who don't honor it in their own practices could face substantial tax penalties, even fines. In other words, you can have your convictions, but you better keep them in the closet because the moment you fail to bow down in homage where you're supposed to, well, there's some kind of fiery furnace that awaits. And just so you don't think I'm trying to pick on the political left, let me come at it from the other side. There are a lot of people in our society who say, how dare you criticize America or say that America will be judged for its sins. America is special. America is chosen by God.

And if that means a strong man with a history of abusive and misogynistic behavior is good for America, who are you to question his integrity? If he's good for America, then God's got to be on his side. In other words, hey, you're fine bowing down to Jesus, just make sure that you bow down to my guy too. Our society says that we're fine to say that Jesus is our savior, but how dare we say that Jesus is the only way to heaven. I heard Oprah say a little while back, Oprah, you know, essentially America's pastor. She's like, there are way many more paths to God than Christianity. She said, I'm a Christian. I'm a Christian, but I'm a free thinking Christian who believes sincerely in my way.

But with 6 million people on the planet, it can't possibly be the only way. What kind of backwards person would believe that there's only one way to God? A dean a couple of years ago at Stanford University forced a group of Christian students on the campus to stop, his words, proselytizing others, trying to convince others that they should come to faith in Jesus. And he said, you're fine to be Christians and to gather together weekly for worship, but you are not allowed to try to convince others that they can only be saved through Jesus for, and I quote, all faiths are equally valid as religions. In other words, it is fine to worship Jesus. You can have him as your personal savior, but you still need to bow to the statue of pluralism or our version of the fiery furnace awaits you.

What I'm trying to say is human society today is just like it was in Nebuchadnezzar's day. They're fine with you following any Christian teaching so long as you still bow where you're supposed to bow. They want you to have an edited Bible. Every generation wants an edited Bible. In the Smithsonian, if you've been the Smithsonian Museum up there in Washington DC, they have Thomas Jefferson's Bible. And it's very famously edited because in Thomas Jefferson's day, it was very unfashionable to believe that God actually did miracles. And so the enlightenment thinkers were like, hey, Jesus's morality is awesome. Sermon on the Mount, greatest treatise, morally speaking, ever written. But this whole stuff about, you know, him raising from the dead and multiplying loaves and faces, that's a bunch of garbage. So Jefferson literally cut out of his New Testament all the things that were supernatural about Jesus so he could just have a nice clean edition of Jesus's moral teachings.

Interestingly, the other side of the mall on DC is a new museum called the Bible Museum, which if you have not seen it, I would highly encourage you to go. But in there they have what they call the slave owner's Bible. The slave owner's Bible was also edited because it was the Bible that slave owners would give to their slaves to read. And in it, they had cut out, I kid you not, all the sections in the Bible, old and New Testament, that would lead a slave to think that he was of equal value with his master, or that would lead him to yearn for freedom. And so they had an edited Bible that they gave to slaves. The point is every generation has their version of an edited Bible. If they were gonna do this today, we'd cut out Jesus's teachings on the sanctity of sex and marriage, but we keep his miracle stories and put in some of his stuff on generosity and forgiveness. Our culture says it's fine to worship Jesus, but you have to edit him to fit our preferences, and you still gotta bow where you're supposed to bow, but y'all hear me. You know that for a follower of Jesus who understands anything about what Jesus says, that's not an option. He is Lord of all.

In fact, we often say that, right? If he's not Lord of all, he's not Lord at all. He didn't come as a coach, a guru to give you suggestions about good life coaching ways to live.

He comes as the authority on all things, and if you don't recognize his authority, I don't think you understand what the word Lord means. Coming to Jesus is not like signing one of those rental car contracts where you get to leave off certain options. You know they're always trying to get you to sign up for a bazillion things. You want navigation. You want prepaid fuel. You want prepaid tolls. How about a ridiculously overpriced insurance package that will give you a zero deductible if the space station falls out of the sky and smashes your car, right? You know, I was in Oklahoma a few weeks ago, and the person was like, hey, would you like this insurance with your car? It's $18 a day, but it will cover you for literally anything, even flood damage.

I was like, does that happen a lot in Oklahoma, like a lot of flood stuff? I got to say no. I don't really want to take that.

I don't want to pay that. People think they can do that with Jesus. We can accept the parts of him that we want and postpone the others till later.

I even heard one college girl explain one time that she'd accepted Jesus as savior, but planned to accept him as Lord after college. I was like, you can't bifurcate Jesus. He's either Lord or he is not.

You're either fully surrendered to him or you're living in rebellion. And y'all, you understand that if God is the only God, then for us to say anything different is cruel, not just wrong, it's cruel. Because you are obscuring the one way of salvation.

You understand, listen, that this generation depends on us telling the truth about it. Just like the generation of Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, they needed these three guys to stand, not just to worship God in private, but to do it in public and say, I can't bow. Because of their courage, an entire generation right there, including Nebuchadnezzar, got to see that there is only one savior. And by the way, scholars say that the faith of the wise men who came to see Jesus can ultimately be traced back to this encounter.

It is because they stood in that moment and said, we can't bow. He's not just my savior. He's everybody's savior. I'm not talking about not letting people be free.

Of course not. We live in a free country. We value that. I'm just saying that our confession is there is one Lord and one savior, and there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. And if I don't tell you the truth about that, if I bow along to the statue of pluralism like everybody else does, then my generation perishes because I didn't have the courage. The substance of Christian courage, the confession is that Jesus is the only Lord, the only savior, and I can only bow to him. Here is the second thing, courage is conviction. I believe that God can. I expect that he will, but I trust him if he doesn't. Courage is conviction.

That's a lot. We'll go through it one at a time, but courage is conviction says this. I believe that God can.

I expect that he will, but I trust him if he doesn't. Let's unpack those phrases one at a time, okay? Christian courage believes that God can. You know, the first thing I notice from the three Hebrew teenagers' answer is that they were in no doubt about who the biggest daddy was in this little drama. Verse 17, our God, whom we serve, is bigger than you. He's bigger than your fiery furnace, and so you can jab around all you want.

Ultimately, he's in charge, not you. Everybody else, all other million people out there on the plane are thinking, look how small and pathetic those three teenagers look next to Nebuchadnezzar and all his mighty soldiers, but they're standing there thinking, look how puny little old Neb looks next to God. That's where Christian courage begins, and it's so simple that a child can get it right. God is bigger. God is bigger. He's bigger than your problems.

I learned this as a kid, and so did you. I remember one of my favorite hymns when I grew up as a kid, help me sleep safely at night and not be afraid. God is bigger than the bogeyman. He's bigger than the monsters and the, or Godzilla and the monsters on TV. Oh, come on, nobody else. God is bigger than the bogeyman, and he's watching out for you.

You learn it as a kid, and essentially, I've got some version of that in every situation I go into. It's the most basic principle of faith. God's bigger than your problem, all of them. He's bigger than cancer. He's bigger than a lost job. He's bigger than a broken marriage. He's bigger than your friends. He's bigger than your sin. He's bigger than your shame. He is bigger than the grave, and if you are his child, there's nothing that happens to you without his permission. Not even a hair falls from your head, he said, without his knowledge and express permission. So why, the hymn writer says, why should I be discouraged?

Why should the shadows come? Jesus is my portion. My constant friend is he. If his eyes on the sparrow, I know he watches me. Christian courage believes that he can.

That's all it is. I believe that he can. Our God is able, and he's bigger than you.

Everybody turn to your neighbor right now and say, I believe that he can. Where do you need to fully embrace what these courageous young men believed as they stood up to a nation? You're listening to Summit Life. If you happen to join us late today, you can hear the entire message by visiting us online at So Pastor JD, since our new Bible study resource follows the HEAR method of studying the Bible, can you explain in a little more detail what is that exactly? So we believe the Bible is God's actual words, which means we want to read them. We want to know everything that's in them. And the HEAR method is basically an instinct you want to develop that will teach you the principles of inductive Bible study, because it's showing you how to observe things, how to press into them and how to apply them to your life and then what to do about it. HEAR stands for highlight. You just highlight the things that stand out to you.

E is examine. You're pressing in with the help of tools like the one we're going to give you to study through the book of Daniel or a study Bible. Then you're going to apply, bridge the context to your life and then respond in prayer and obedience. So we're going to give you, we want to give you a new Bible study that helps work through the book of Daniel along with these messages. So go to right now to help participate in this ministry. We would love to put one of these in your hands, just as our way of saying thank you in a way that will help you read and study the Bible better. Ask for the book of Daniel shining in Babylon, nine part inductive Bible study. When you give a suggested donation of $35 or more today by calling 866-335-5220.

That's 866-335-5220 or go online and request your copy at I'm Molly Vidovitch inviting you to come back tomorrow when pastor JD continues our study about courage in Babylon from Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. That's Thursday on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-25 02:05:19 / 2023-05-25 02:16:34 / 11

Get The Truth Mobile App and Listen to your Favorite Station Anytime