Week of November 1, 2015
Bible Verses: Daniel 3:13-30.
The Point: Be ready and willing to stand for God.
Faith in the Furnace: Daniel 3:13-30.
 Then Nebuchadnezzar in furious rage commanded that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be brought. So they brought these men before the king.  Nebuchadnezzar answered and said to them, “Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up?  Now if you are ready when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, well and good. But if you do not worship, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?”  Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter.  If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king.  But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”  Then Nebuchadnezzar was filled with fury, and the expression of his face was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He ordered the furnace heated seven times more than it was usually heated.  And he ordered some of the mighty men of his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace.  Then these men were bound in their cloaks, their tunics, their hats, and their other garments, and they were thrown into the burning fiery furnace.  Because the king’s order was urgent and the furnace overheated, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.  And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell bound into the burning fiery furnace.  Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.”  He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.”  Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the door of the burning fiery furnace; he declared, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here!” Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out from the fire.  And the satraps, the prefects, the governors, and the king’s counselors gathered together and saw that the fire had not had any power over the bodies of those men. The hair of their heads was not singed, their cloaks were not harmed, and no smell of fire had come upon them.  Nebuchadnezzar answered and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set aside the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God.  Therefore I make a decree: Any people, nation, or language that speaks anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be torn limb from limb, and their houses laid in ruins, for there is no other god who is able to rescue in this way.”  Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the province of Babylon. [ESV]
VERSES 13 – 15
This passage shows us the way power has the ability to corrupt. Notice that where power takes Nebuchadnezzar. He is in the position to say that he himself is greater than all gods because none would be able to save Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (SMA) from him and his fiery furnace. That is a very bold assertion. This example of Nebuchadnezzar’s pride reminds us that we ought never to mindlessly attach ourselves to any religion (even the non-religious religions i.e.atheism) but rely on God and His authority.
VERSE 16 – 18
In this account it is important to notice the precommitment that SMA had for God. The option to worship false idols was not even an option they were willing to entertain even in the face of the death. For SMA the only option was to maintain their obedience to God. In verse 17 when they say that our God is powerful enough to protect but either way we are prepared to die or like in verse 18 that the option to worship your fake gods is off the table for us; they point out to us what our thinking ought to be when we are faced with trials. First and foremost is the importance of your lives to God which ought to cause us to put our trust solely on Him. Secondly this type of obedience doesn’t just grow in our hearts unless our mind is also engaged.
VERSES 19 – 23
Now this account shows us that there is no better place for us to be than in God’s care. Neb was angry mostly with the fact that SMA completely rejected his offer and with the confidence with which they did it. In essence while SMA were respectful in their reply their words undeified Neb and brought him to reality. Not a pleasurable place for an ego maniac. As a result he commands that the heat of the furnace be increased 7 times. Such a high temperature was so dangerous that those who attended SMA to the furnace were not simply burnt they were killed by it. Because these attendants had worshiped false gods they could not be protected by these gods nor could Neb protect them, nor would I venture to say that he would even care to protect them.
VERSE 24 – 30
1. What two goals did Nebuchadnezzar’s statute have? Why did Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refuse to bow down and worship this statute?
2. How does our culture put the same pressure on us to put our God in second place? Have you seen this pressure increase in your lifetime. What do we learn from 3:17-18 concerning our response to this pressure to put anything ahead of God?
3. Every believer is confronted with the following question: Am I going to declare the Lord to be my God when my faith is put to the test or will I bow down to the multitude of idols that the world presents to me?