Daniel 3: Knowing when to stand and when to kneel

“You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image- you shall not kneel to them or serve them.: Exodus 20: 3-5. These commandments we make it clear when we are not to bow or kneel. Certainly the 10 Commandments were known by Daniel and his three friends.  And this commandment was clear as clear can be. After Daniel interpreted the dream for the king, he was made ruler over the whole province of Babylon and over all the wise men in Babylon. He also petitioned and secured leadership positions from the king for Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in Babylon.

Ephesians 6: 10-18 give clear instructions when to stand.  Paul in Ephesians 3:14 tells us: “For this reason I kneel before the Father…”  We kneel in the throne room in the presence of God. And one day we know every knee will bow and every tongue confess Jesus is Lord.

This chapter opens with a dedication ceremony which is really a worship service complete with music. Music is an important element of worship. It also has great impact on the emotions of people. Certainly the devil, previously known as Lucifer, the angel who led worship in heaven before the fall knows the influence music has over mankind. You will notice the word; “worship” is used several times during this passage. In Exodus 32, we read the account of the golden calf and the use of music to influence in verse 17; Moses and Joshua hear the sound of music from the mountain as the people rose up to play. In Ephesians 5- Paul tells us to speak to one another in Psalms and hymns to sing make music in your heart to the Lord.

We are not sure how much time has passed since Daniel has interpreted the dream but King Nebuchadnezzar has obviously forgotten his confession of Daniel’s God being the God above all gods and the Revealer of secrets. In his pride as the golden head of the statute, he builds a gold plated statue on the plains of Dura where it is visible for miles. It is 60 cubits tall and six cubits wide. (90 feet by 9 feet wide). Notice the significance of the number 60 and 6.  This is an actual event but also a picture of what will happen in the last days of the Tribulation period.  The nearby furnace was used for the gold plating, but also is used as a threat to all who will not bow down and worship the idol. The furnace is a picture of the fiery trials Peter said we must endure.  King Nebuchadnezzar is a type of antichrist who desires to be worshipped and will punish those who do not bow down.

THE TESTING OF OUR FAITH

Adrian Rogers used to say, “A faith that cannot be tested, cannot be trusted.”  The devil tempts us in order to destroy our faith. God allows our faith to be tested to develop and strengthen our faith, so we can learn to trust the Lord and His promises.  Peter writes in I Peter 1 about the inheritance that does not fade away reserved for us in heaven kept by the power of God. Then he teaches us about the reason for the testing of faith. “ In this you greatly rejoice, though for now a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it be tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Remember what God wants to do with us, through us and in us:  bless us; shame the devil, and exalt the Lord’s Name. *You can never learn to trust God if you never experienced a situation where only God can help you. Adversity is the bridge to a deeper relationship with the Lord. He allows your faith to be refined by fire, just as gold is so that every impurity of doubt, worry, fear and anxiety are removed.

We live in a world system where many argue there is no absolute truth and there are no absolute standards for morality. Therefore, truth is relative and so are morals. What the Bible calls sin, is now accepted as lifestyle choice. We are told we are not to impose our Christian values on others or judge them by our standards.  As a result we are in a moral free fall in which it seems anything goes and everyone can do what is right in their own eyes.  Gold is a symbol of wealth today, just as it was in the days of Daniel. It is interesting in heaven gold is used to pave streets.

Daniel had given complete credit to God for revealing the mystery of Kind Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams. In fact, the king had bowed down to Daniel’s God and called him, “Truly, your God is the God of gods, the Lord of kings, the revealer of secrets.” (Daniel 2; 47)

The last book of the New Testament is entitled: The Revelation of Jesus Christ. Revelation is the act of making something known that was unknown, a secret.  Revelation 1:1:  “The Revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave Him to show His servants- things which must shortly take place. And He signified it by His angel to His servant John.”

God is telling each of us when we are going through difficult times our greatest need is to have the Lord Jesus Christ revealed to us. “For this is life eternal to know the True and Living God and the One Whom He has sent.” (John 17:3)  And the Apostle Paul said there was nothing greater and more important in this life than to know the Lord Jesus. God wants to reveal Himself to you in such a way, you will never doubt His promises.

Is your faith being tested now in unfavorable circumstances?  If God is trying to build a bridge to a deeper relationship with Him personally, the enemy wants to burn that bridge with doubt. And we know we sometimes must fight fire with fire. Fight this fire of doubt with the fire of faith in God’s promises. Take action immediately- NOW!  And here are some promises: “But NOW, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, and Who formed you, O Israel: Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned., nor shall the flame scorch you.” (Isaiah 43) “Fear not I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. Yes, I will help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41: 10) “NOW faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we cannot see.”(Hebrews 11: 1)

THE TEST SHADRACH, MESHACH AND ABEDNEGO FACED

The dedication service of this new image of gold was a worship service and upon the commencement of the music, every knee is to bow and fall down before the idol and worship the gold image the king has set up. The penalty for not bowing down is that person or persons will be immediately cast into the furnace of fire. So when the music started all bowed down, but three men: Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. With thousands bowed down, they are easily identified and the accusers quickly tell King Nebuchadnezzar they have refused. The king is infuriated and has them brought before him. He tells them; they will bow down or be cast in the furnace. The king asks them, “Who is the god who will deliver you from my hands?”  Here is their reply: “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If that is the case, 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. 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 made.”

Intimidation is the often used weapon of the enemy. He goes about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. These three men of faith are not intimidated and their calm demeanor and steadfast faith keeps them in perfect peace. It only increases the frustration and fury of the king who has the fire heated up to seven times hotter that it was before. Sometimes things appear to get worse before they get better.  We know in the end times, the fires of suffering and persecution will intensify.  We now know there were more Christians who were persecuted and died for their faith in the 20th century than in all the other centuries since the time of Jesus.

They are bound, fully clothed and placed in the furnace. The heat of the fire is so great it kills those soldiers who placed them in the fire. Watch what happens next:  The king was astonished and rose in haste and spoke to his counselors: ‘Did we not cast three men in the fire? Yes, king. Look! I see four men walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt and the form of the fourth man is like the Son of God.”   Didn’t God tell us He would be with us when we went through the rivers and walked through the fires of testing? He did and He does!

King Nebuchadnezzar brings them out, unscathed, not even scorched or having the smell of smoke on their clothes. Nebuchadnezzar spoke saying, “ Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, Who sent His Angle and delivered His servants who trusted in Him, and they have frustrated the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they should not server nor worship any god except their God. Therefore I make a decree that any people, nation, or language which speaks anything amiss against their God shall be cut into pieces and their houses turned to rubble, because there is no God who can deliver like this.

God longs to bless us, shame the devil and exalt His Name.

APPLICATION:

Obviously the literal furnace in this story represents the suffering, intimidation, testing, and trials we will face in these last days, which Paul describes as perilous times. A time of falling away from sound doctrine. A time of pressure for us to compromise. These men offered their bodies as living sacrifices. Their minds had been transformed by the Word of God, the Holy Scriptures which they had been taught since childhood.

There were other Jews who had been taken into captivity and had been living in Babylon for some time, yet only three remained standing. What happened to these others that they knelt before this image, this idol?  They had decided they were not willing to risk condemnation. They loved their lives. They had been conformed by the culture around them. It was interesting to me, these three men were not sure God would save them from the fire. Whether God chooses to do something or not is a question of His Sovereignty, not His ability. Whether or not God chooses to do something is His business, but believing that He can is my business. His ability is not the question. I believe God is who He says He is and can do what He says He can do. I also believe I am who He says I am and can do what He says I can do. This is because I have faith in His promises for His word is alive and powerful and at work in my life. Do I get anxious and worried and fearful at times during these tests? Yes, absolutely. This is exactly why there are so many assurances of my Lord to fear not, for I am with you. Be not dismayed. I am your strength. I will help you.

I remember a young couple in our church years ago. They were about the same age as Gina and I were and had two young boys. The wife had been diagnosed with brain cancer. They were claiming God was able to heal her. The song they sang that Sunday morning recognized His Sovereignty. “God is too wise to be mistaken. God is too good to be unkind. So when you can’t see His plan, when you can’t trace His Hand, trust His heart. “She died a few weeks later. Sometimes we cannot understand why God does what He does, when He does it. Jesus said on the night of the last supper, you do not understand what I am doing now, but later on you will. (Phyllis Sipes story of Buster Sipes)

On that fateful day, these three men stood while others bowed down, there were Jews in the crowd who had bowed down to the idol of gold. They went along, to get along. In our generation we have seen a decline in the United States of America, a nation which pledged allegiance to our flag as one nation under God, indivisible. We are divided now, aren’t we? Standing up for God and His Word is not easy when the rest are bowing down to an image of gold.

The majority love the things of the world. Times of adversity often come at the times of opportunity. An opportunity to make more money, but compromise your beliefs. A time to become more popular, but go along with the crowd. A promise of more pleasure, but you know it is wrong.

As we move toward those perilous end times, the end of an age, we will see the furnace of opposition grow hotter and hotter.

In Ephesians 3 there is a prayer Paul prayed for you and me centuries ago, listen to it with all your heart, put your name in there each time Paul says ‘ you’: “ For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven is named, that He grant you according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, that you being rooted and grounded in love may be able to comprehend with all the saint what is the width and length and depth and height- to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. NOW to Him who is ABLE to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we can ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Did you get that? 

“That He grants YOU”

“That Christ might dwell in YOUR heart.”

“That YOU might comprehend…”

“That YOU might be filled.” 

God the Revealer of Mysteries Is ABLE TO DO THIS IN YOU, and FOR YOU AND THROUGH YOU!

IN FACT HE IS ABLE TO DO ABUNDANTLY ABOVE ALL THAT YOU CAN IMAGINE!

NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR HIM. INCLUDING THAT “THING” WHICH IS SEEMS TO NEVER GO AWAY; WHICH SEEMS TO LOOM OVER YOUR HEAD DAY AND NIGHT.

Cast your cares on Him, for He cares for You.  He is THE CARING GOD WHO CAN AND WHO WILL BE WITH YOU AND STRENGTHEN YOU! AMEN.

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