Summary: This sermon explains why we encounter fiery trials and encourages us to seek to deepen our faith through them rather than simply ask God to get us through them.
A Strange Ordeal?
October 20, 2002
A. [Charles H. Spurgeon]
“I dare say that the greatest earthly blessing that God can give to any of us is health, with the exception of sickness.”
B. Today in the third chapter of Daniel and the story of the three Hebrew boys in the fiery furnace, I think we will learn why he might say that.
I. The opposition of faith
Daniel 3:1 (NIV), King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, ninety feet high and nine feet wide, and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon.
A. King Nebuchadnezzar quickly forgot his proclamation at the end of chapter 2.
1. Daniel 2:47 (NIV), The king said to Daniel, "Surely your God is the God of gods and the Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, for you were able to reveal this mystery."
2. He may have said Daniel’s God was the God of gods, but it wasn’t long remembered.
B. It seems that he forgot that part of the story, but it also appears that he remembered another part of the story.
1. Daniel 2:37-38 (NIV), You, O king, are the king of kings. The God of heaven has given you dominion and power and might and glory; 38 in your hands he has placed mankind and the beasts of the field and the birds of the air. Wherever they live, he has made you ruler over them all. You are that head of gold.
2. It appears that even though he forgot his pronouncement about God, Nebuchadnezzar did not forget that God had made him the king of kings.
C. Now Nebuchadnezzar has erected a huge image (presumably of himself).
1. Daniel tells us that it was ninety feet high (approximately 8 stories).
2. Nebuchadnezzar erected this eight-story image of himself out in the middle of the plain of Dura.
3. Of course, this would be a very imposing sight out in the middle of that plain.
4. They think they have found the pedestal on which that image was placed right there near Babylon in the plain that is still called Dura.
5. Without doubt an impressive sight: eight stories high in the middle of a plain.
6. But not only was it an impressive sight, it was accompanied by impressive sounds.
7. As we read on we see that there was lots of music that went along with the statue.
D. This was clearly an opposition to the three Hebrew boys’ faith in God.
II. The temptation of faith
Daniel 3:2-15 (NIV), He then summoned the satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates and all the other provincial officials to come to the dedication of the image he had set up. 3 So the satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates and all the other provincial officials assembled for the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up, and they stood before it. 4 Then the herald loudly proclaimed, "This is what you are commanded to do, O peoples, nations and men of every language: 5 As soon as you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and all kinds of music, you must fall down and worship the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. 6 Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace." 7 Therefore, as soon as they heard the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp and all kinds of music, all the peoples, nations and men of every language fell down and worshiped the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. 8 At this time some astrologers came forward and denounced the Jews. 9 They said to King Nebuchadnezzar, "O king, live forever! 10 You have issued a decree, O king, that everyone who hears the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and all kinds of music must fall down and worship the image of gold, 11 and that whoever does not fall down and worship will be thrown into a blazing furnace. 12 But there are some Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon--Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego--who pay no attention to you, O king. They neither serve your gods nor worship the image of gold you have set up." 13 Furious with rage, Nebuchadnezzar summoned Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. So these men were brought before the king, 14 and Nebuchadnezzar said to them, "Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up? 15 Now when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and all kinds of music, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?"