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Faith in the Furnace

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
July 10, 2020 8:00 am

Faith in the Furnace

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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July 10, 2020 8:00 am

Taken captive and marched off to another country, Daniel and his friends have some amazing adventures in Babylonia. But through it all, they are faithful to God. As you enter into their story, you'll learn more about: the sovereignty of God, and why we must be holy and Christian living in a secular culture. In the latter half of this book, Daniel's own visions are recorded, and--in them--we catch glimpses of the future. How are these visions relevant to our lives?

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Welcome to the Bible study reviewing Internet ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals featuring the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce for more information please contact us by calling toll-free one 804 88 18 and now the alliance is pleased to present the Bible study our bearing you to think and act biblically years ago when I was an undergraduate student at Harvard University. I work for the school radio station and one day as an engineer I had the task of recording one of the drama students who later became a director and went on to found the operatory company in the city of Boston.

We were recording the third chapter of Daniel and lessee began this reading. He regarded it as one of the most humorous things in the world is a repetition of all kinds of officers in a court of Nebuchadnezzar, satraps, prefects, governors, advisors, treasures, judges, magistrates, and then there is a listing of all kinds of musical instruments, horn, flute, zither, liar, heart pipes and all kinds of music and the read these verses.

Most humorous tone of voice. I was offended by this particular drama student was Jewish and I interrupted him to say that I thought that this was an entire misreading of the story and besides it was disrespectful to the word of God. He was taken back.

Supposedly because I Gentile would interrupt his authoritative reading of what he considered to be his book, particularly at any rate, I expected a rebuke, but instead of black heat. Listen as I explained it far from being a humorous story this was actually story of three young Jews who were willing to lay down their lives rather than compromise what they know to be true about God. So he settled down in the read it quite a different way from that time to this. If not before.

This third chapter of Daniel has become one of my favorite portions of all the word of God story begin to sweat the plan that Nebuchadnezzar conceived in his mind, plan to build a great gold statue and set it up out on the plain of Dora where everyone could see it and where all the people of the Empire, particularly those who were the officials of Babylon would bow down whenever this long list of musical instruments sounded.

He carried out the plan he built the statue of the text tells us that it was 90 feet high at 9 feet wide row houses in the city of Philadelphia are about half that.

So this was a statute twice as high as most rowhouses enormous thing tells us that it was of gold, even if the statue was only covered with gold, which it probably was that still is an enormous amount of gold.

I don't know where Nebuchadnezzar found it, but that's what the text says he did. And it's important to the story to recognize that it really was a gold this reason, in order to get into what Nebuchadnezzar was really doing in the building of the statue you have to go back to the previous chapter, where you have this dream of great statue representing succeeding world empires forgotten dream. God revealed it to Daniel after Daniel and his three friends prayed that God would do that, then having been told of the dream, Daniel went to the king revealed the nature of the dream to him and interpreted it statue your recall was made of different kinds of metal I had was of Goldie arms in the breast of silver in the middle portions of Bronson in the legs and feet were of iron in the feet and toes, especially were made of iron mixed with baked clay. As Daniel explained that each portion of that statue stood before a succeeding world empire that had represented Nebuchadnezzar in his great kingdom of Babylon. It was glorious and that's why was made of gold. The kingdom that was going to succeed his kingdom was less glorious was made of silver rather than gold, but it was stronger just to sober the stronger than gold.

This, as we look at history must've been the kingdom of the beads of the Persians, about which we are told, even in the second half of this book was 1/3 kingdom.

It was the kingdom of brass stands for the Empire of the Greeks established by Alexander the great's was less glorious but still stronger. And finally there was the strongest but least glorious kingdom of all that, of Rome, which divided into two parts and eventually fragmented is the division of the two legs with those symbolizes and at the end of that long period of history.

There was a stone that struck the statue destroyed it and grew up to be a mountain that filled the whole earth, and that we recognize stands for Jesus Christ and his kingdom, so that was the vision that was the interpretation of it out from our perspective of history.

There's nothing particularly threatening about that. We look to the past and we say well yes, that certainly was a prophecy.

That's what happened. That's the way these kingdoms unfolded and then we look to the future and we have no difficulty saying well just one day. Lord Jesus Christ is going to return a great power and glory and before him every knee is going to bow. I say that's my threatening God's must've been quite different for Nebuchadnezzar say when Daniel first interpreted that vision to Nebuchadnezzar Nebuchadnezzar responded with words of praise for Daniel's God, he said in chapter 2. Shortly your God is the God of gods and the Lord of kings and revealer of mysteries were you were able to reveal this mystery that may must've gotten off by himself begun to reflect on the dream and his thinking must've gone something like this. He must've said well that is an interesting vision and I'm glad in the interpretation of the vision that I and my Empire are identified with the head. I would hate to be identified with the foot tall.

For example, I'm glad to be the head but the thing that bothers me about this is that the head of gold is to be succeeded by the kingdom silver. Why should that be why should this glorious Babylon that I have built be succeeded by anything.

Why, instead shouldn't be the case that my kingdom and my dynasty in my Babylon will endure forever, so it is mine. Nebuchadnezzar said what I need to do is build a statue like the statue I saw in my dream statue with the head breast and arms in middle portions of legs and feet and toes, but my statue is not going to be made up of four metals, representing four successive empires. My statue was going to be made of gold from top to bottom.

The head of gold gas with the arms of the breast of gold in the middle portions of gold in the legs of gold, all things going to be of gold because I kingdom will last forever say when you begin to understand that that's what was going on and that's the link between chapters 2 and three of this important book we begin to understand why this story is not humorous and we begin to understand why it's not just a matter of a few Jews refusing to bow down to a pagan idol, though that was important, but rather it was a case of the greats Emperor defying broad Nebuchadnezzar was saying.

I have heard what God's will is but may my will be done in my kingdom stand forever, and the struggle is that struggle and the result is that God brings Nebuchadnezzar down to a point of humility and submission statue was built and were told about that in the early portions of the story began. At this point to have an effect upon Daniel three friends Daniel is not in the story and we don't know why this happens in Nebuchadnezzar's rain.

Therefore, early in Daniel's life. Probably he was still a young man at the time that's the case, he may well have been assignments to duty in some other capital city of the Empire. We don't know that it's quite probable.

At any rate, as we read the story Daniel seems not to of been here when this incident happened so the store that's was about to break broken stand on the heads of his three friends, Shadrach me shack and Abednego began with a Chaldeans or the astrologers, most of the people that Daniel and his three friends were trained to be was the group of the wise men of Babylon. The number of these astrologers came Nebuchadnezzar and called attention to the fact that Shadrach me shack and Abednego refuse to bow down when all these instruments sounded they said there are some Jews whom you sent over the affairs of the province of Babylon, Shadrach me shack and Abednego, who pay no attention to you. Okay. They can either serve your God snort worship the image of gold you would set up. Why should it be the case that these astrologers were creating problems for those who were among the number they were the elite core of the advisors to the King and the Empire of Bible and why would they be causing trouble for some of their own number on hard to get an answer to that we remember that in the earlier chapter. It was these three along with Daniel, who had received the nature and the interpretation of the king's dream and were able to reveal it to Nebuchadnezzar when they were proved important in the same situation. They were jealous of these man resentful of the fact that these young man had been able to do what they were unable to do so they decided to stir up trouble for in other words, it was exactly the same motivation. The cause of so much trouble today where work.

Employees will gossip about other employees a great trouble for them rather than trying to build them up or in schools. Problems will occur among the students are in families you have such a thing as sibling rivalry. It's resentment.

It's jealousy all of that wickedness that flows forth from the heart of fallen men and women any rate they came to Nebuchadnezzar. They made their story and they presented in such a way that Nebuchadnezzar roof curious that these three young men would have the audacity that the five is most solemn order to bow down to that statue. So he called the men began an interrogation. Yes, and if it was true.

I replied yes it was. He gave them a second chance.

He said now were going to blow those horns again and were going to sound slow Springs increments again and if you bow down well very well will forget about what happened in the past, but if not want you to know I'm serious, you're going to be thrown into a blazing furnace and then what God will be able to rescue you from my I find it interesting that this is the same kind of challenge that confronts the people of God always when they come up against the desires of this world or this worlds states most of us are never, I presume going to have to face the choice between obeying God and being executed probably not in our time, though, it's conceivable, but probably not all of us face precisely that same dilemma when ever standards of the requirements of this world ends up on what we know to be our obligation in conduct as Christian people. Sometimes it's a state doesn't, sometimes it's an employer that doesn't. Sometimes it comes from what we call peer pressure. Those among whom we are living, working, or serving say you know you want to get by.

You need to do this you want to be popular need to do so when Saul and Christian people have to decide are they serving the Lord Jesus Christ. Or are they serving the Prince of this world. Unfortunately, many compromise these young men didn't and neither must we.

I noticed an interesting thing here and it's that they didn't pause in the situation to debate the matter in their own minds.

That's interesting because even Martin Luther you know we look to as the great hero of the Reformation when he was brought before the dioxin was demanded of him that he recanted asked for a night to pray and think it over and respond in the morning.

He responded properly. We know, but, yes, were the way these men didn't seem to do that by banning without causing even to consider, and that risk of their own lives. They spoke up to the king and their words are some of the great words of the Bible, Shadrach me shack and Abednego replied to the king all Nebuchadnezzar. We do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter.

If we are thrown into the blazing furnace. The God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your aunt. No king but even if he does not want you to know okay and that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up times in life. You see when we had better not stop to deliberate because if we do the kind of rationalizations that the world is so anxious to provide will certainly come forcing through and they may cause us to waiver when we have to stand we asked the question how these men manage to stand reply instantly as they did and so do the right thing, the answer is that already made that up in their minds, for they had been through the issues they know what God said God is said house shall have no other gods before me shall not make under myself any image of anything in heaven above or the earth beneath the waters of the earth shall not bow down thyself to them or serve them.

For I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquities of the fathers upon the children of the third and fourth generation of them that hate me and showing mercy upon thousands that love me and keep my commandments. They knew that that was written in the law and it was engraved in their minds they knew that that was their standard that was the thing by which they had to live and I think if they had paused and had begun the reason that they could have thought of many many reasons why. Perhaps I should compromised in the situation.

Someone was there to reason with them.

The way many people would reason today. I guess person could've said, you know, the three of you are obviously very dedicated and sincere young man we need more young men like you and that is precisely why you must not continue in this obstinate course of rebellion against the king of Babylon because you say he's not joking. Nebuchadnezzar has his reputation to uphold the Nebuchadnezzar has said that people do not bow down to that statue is going to execute them is going to throw them into this blazing furnace and you'll do that with you if that happens to you. You'll be dead and this very beneficial influence that you are providing in this admittedly very wicked city of Babylon will be over.

Moreover, you have to consider this your disobedience in this matter is certainly going to be misunderstood as being misunderstood already think what you are standing for is the knowledge and the identity of the true God. That's not the way Nebuchadnezzar sees it. Nebuchadnezzar's mind it's only a matter of civil disobedience. So if you really want to bear witness to the true God. What you must do is bow to the states requirements proper course is to live and extend your influence. In other words, I guess another wife said might've argued along these lines might've said you need to understand Nebuchadnezzar is really on your side and is like sure you say you know that you took you from Jerusalem. He brought you here he trained you.

You already had that incident of the dream, and he respects you and your God. As a result of that condenser does not want to kill you as a got caught in this dilemma of his own making and what he really needs is a way out and you care about Nebuchadnezzar you should compromised the matter.

I don't think you would even have to prostrate yourself in the dust would just stand off on the edge of the crowd a little bit and sort of tip your head in the direction of the statue, Nebuchadnezzar would say well I must admire them for that certainly is difficult for the monotheistic Jews to bow to statue of a mother God, but they did it. They did it out of the respect for me. He would say see takes man of courage, the compromise like that.

Maybe the theologians of the time would've got into it. Theologians might've said now look in the New Testament.

I know it's not written yet, but it's going in the New Testament it says an idol is nothing. I think this through with an idol is nothing in the statue is an idol, then the statue is nothing in that you bow down to the statue. What you are bowing down to is nothing anti-about down to nothing out of that possibly be construed as idolatry. So why don't you just bow down. Fortunately, Shadrach me shack and Abednego it already wrestled through the issue they want about the lesson that type of rationalization, they said even if God does not deliver us. We want you to know okay and that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you would set up somebody will say all yes but you're making it too simplistic instrument trial, but the Bible also says that we are to obey those in authority over us answer is yes it does. We are to obey the state each and every legitimate exercise of its authority, but only in every legitimate exercise ball when he's writing about in Romans says you know you are to give taxes those to whom taxes are due tribute to those to whom tribute is due on or those in deserve honor and respect goes deserve respect that occurs in the midst of a passage that says God has established. The authorities, they are there because of God's ordination and blessing, but at same time you see the states goes beyond that authority that God is given and requires believers in the true God to do that which is contrary to the law of God, they must defy the state even at risk to their own lives. See that's the proper relationship between church and state, the state must not determine how the church is the direct its affairs and the church is not to determine how the state should direct its affairs, but must recognize that they are established by God and are responsible to him see these young man if they didn't know it before. Certainly knew it after the dream that God had set up Nebuchadnezzar because that's what the dream had to do with God made Nebuchadnezzar the head of gold and he would make another kingdom. After that, another kingdom after that God had sent Nebuchadnezzar out but just because God is sent, Nebuchadnezzar did not make Nebuchadnezzar. God is begotten evidence or had a legitimate authority. Nebuchadnezzar was not in consequence of that autonomous reflect the God set them up, gave him a higher level of responsibility in the very fact that God sets up the powers of our day gives to them a greater measure of responsibility, namely that they are answerable to him what they do. Even in secular terms in our duty as Christians is to remind the state about and where necessary, call the state repentance.

What is it that gave these three men the strength they had three things.

First of all, they knew that God was sovereign thing is clear in the story that they said if we are thrown into the blazing furnace.

The God we serve is able to save us from. That's the statement of the sovereignty of God. They were saying in this matter.

As in all matters of life in the final analysis, not you. Nebuchadnezzar who are in charge.

When God was in charge whatever authority you have is dedicated authority, and if God gives you that authority.

You can exercise it, but it's always at his discretion. He remains in charge. If he chooses the literacy will deliver this chooses not to deliver us. That's all right because you see it's this God the sovereign God that we serve. That's the first thing the second thing I knew the Scriptures because that's why they were going to bow down after all the various religions of the day allowed worshipers of the pagan gods to bow down other gods you could have 400 God's a thousand gods. If you wanted was only in Judaism that things were so tough.

That's what they know. They knew the law of God and the Lord God said, you must not bow down and so they were not going to bow down and others. The third thing. Not only they know that God was sovereign and not only did they know the Scriptures. The third thing is that they were willing to pay with their lives necessary to do the right thing and the work that all out before handling new became that they were willing to die. That's necessary. It's necessary because it's quite possible to believe in God is a sovereign God know the Scriptures know what we must do, but still failing the test because when I willing to pay the price. It is only those who are willing to pay the price. That's really amount to anything and make any real difference in this world, I think, for example, Joseph Tonn exiled Romanian pastor who is now in this country, but was threatened with death in his own country by the communist authorities before he left it been preaching. I didn't like that he was gaining a following, and they didn't like that so they call the man that he was expecting to be guiltless other pastors had been. He said all his affairs in order before he appeared before the communist authorities when he was interrogated. He said now before you begin.

I just want to say is one thing I want you to know in advance that I am prepared to die.

I've said all my affairs in order and you are free to kill me if you wish.

Your greatest weapon he said is killing my greatest weapon is dying and if I die and my writing Scripture already read now will be read even more so the spread all over the country in the interrogator said who said anything about dying and eventually he let them go. Eventually they exiled him from Romanian today makes weekly radio broadcasts that are beamed in the country.

I'm told today that when his broadcaster on one to 2 o'clock afternoon two thirds of the people in the country.

Stop and listen to the radio man has authority because he was willing to die rather than compromise. That's with these men were willing to do that.

We know how the story goes, sometimes the people of God to die, but often he delivers the money delivered these three men dressed in seat deliver Joseph Tonn is or was infuriated.

I would know that I had them thrown in the furnace after having it heated seven times hotter than usual. I think what he was afraid of is that there God might be able to protect them from a normal one seated furnace and maybe twice even furnace but he was sure that God wasn't strong enough to protect them from a seven-time seated furnace and so you all up through the manly man that had brought them forward but when Nebuchadnezzar looked at the furnace later saw them on bound walking around and 1/4 he said looks like son of the gods. I don't know what Nebuchadnezzar thought about that but I know what we should think so hard to identify that person.

That person is the Lord Jesus Christ to the pre-incarnate form, perhaps the same form in which he appeared to Abraham before the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah which he wrestled with Jacob beside the brook job there he was with his people. It's a vivid portrayal of the truth that when God's people go through trials.

God goes with his people. We sing about it through the deep waters.

I called need to go the rivers of Willow show marked the overflow or I shall be with the guy trials to bless and sanctify to the eye deepest distress through fiery trials like pathway shall live by grace, all sufficient shall be thy supply flame shall not hurt the I only design by Ross to consume by gold to refine what is true. Countless numbers of Christians testifying to the fire God has been particularly close to them and walk with them through their most severe trials. God is not a God of past ages that God is a living God. God is one who will stand by you in situations just like this where you are challenged to compromise but must not compromise your faith save we can be confident in that promise.

And if we can then let stand for the rights and do it.

Let's refuse to compromise. Let's refuse to bow down. That's our head high and let's have our own staff.

We say before God and all the worlds are gone is the true God's law is binding upon our hearts and our consciences. I we will launch bow our heads of the Golden images tensely toys this world sets up no, there's an interesting angle to this that involves Nebuchadnezzar what about Nebuchadnezzar. How does he react all this Nebuchadnezzar was impressed Nebuchadnezzar said wow crazy speed of the God of Shadrach me shack and Abednego for you said is Angel to rescue his servants.

They trusted him and defined the king's command, and they were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god, except their own God. Therefore, I do pray that the people of any nation or language and say anything against the God of Shadrach me shack at Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses returned to the piles of rubble where no other God can save in this way is anything humorous in the story is that Nebuchadnezzar's response impressed but not converted, God had to bring Nebuchadnezzar a lot lower than he was here before. He acknowledged the God of Israel, as his God waits God has to bring you down bow before him now. One day, every knee shall bow every heart every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord before them now and then for now be part of his kingdom. Rejoice when it comes in its fullness at the end of time. Our father, we commit our hearts ways to you. We recognize that the struggles we face are generally not so dramatic where it's evident that this is a matter of life or death OR father, help us to say that no it is solemn for us at least a matter of physical life versus physical death that is always a matter of spiritual life or death grants because we are your people because you are sovereign because we do have the Scriptures we know these promises that we might be found able, willing to stand so amount for something amidst this fall and falling were a you have been listening to the Bible study our production of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals the alliance of confessing Evangelicals exist to promote a biblical understanding and worldview. Drawing upon the insight and wisdom of Reformation theologians from decades, even centuries gone by.

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