Sermons

Summary: A loyalty that does not depend upon conditions is an unconditional commitment. This is what gives a Christian courage and determination.

The warden asked the prisoner if there was anything he would

like to eat before the execution. He said, "Yes, I would like

mushrooms. I've always been scared to try them for fear I'd be

poisoned." Here was a man who was brave because he had nothing

to lose. This is all together different from that bravery that acts even

when there is everything to lose. This last kind of bravery we see in

the 3 Jewish friends. They stood erect when the law of the king

was-bow or burn. They deliberately disobeyed the highest law of the

land. They refused to conform to the orders of Nebuchadnezzar even

though they knew the envious eyes of their enemies would see and

report them. They were fully aware of the demand and the penalty,

and that they would be found guilty. And yet they refused to bow,

for they were conscience of being watched by greater eyes than those

of their enemies.

A little boy wrote an essay on bravery, and in it he said, "Some

boys is brave because they always play with little boys, and some

boys is brave because their legs is too short to run away, but most

boys is brave because somebody's lookin." In spite of his poor

grammar he had a good grasp of the motivating power of the presence

of someone loved and respected. A child will take real risks

and attempt feats of bravery when he knows he is being watched. So

it is also for a child of God. Assurance of God's presence and His all

seeing eyes upon you gives courage to face any task, and reject any

temptation. The major cause for the fluctuation in the Christian life

is the variation in our awareness of the presence of God.

When God is near we cast our fear, and we fight with zeal and

joy, but when he's not we're a sorry lot to be in His employ. The

sense of God's presence is a key to victorious living. These three

Jewish officials in a foreign land were surrounded by idolatry, and

yet they were deeply aware of the presence of Jehovah. Their faith

was visibly confirmed by God when he actually became visible with

them in the fiery furnace. It was their awareness of somebody

looking, as the little boy said, that made these men so brave, and that

someone was the Lord. This is what enabled them to be

non-conformist when it cost. They were willing to risk every value in

life and life itself for the value of loyalty to God. As might be

expected Nebuchadnezzar was not impressed with their loyalty, for

to him it was an act of disloyalty. When the informer told him of

their refusal to bow to his idol he went into a royal rage and ordered

them to be brought to him immediately.

It took awhile for them to be brought to him, and it gave him

time to calm down. He could have had them thrown into the fire

without a hearing, but he gave them a chance to speak for

themselves. In verse 15 we see him giving them another chance to

bow and be spared. Opportunity to disobey God never knocks only

once. What was a generous chance to gain mercy from

Nebuchadnezzar's point of view was only a temptation to the 3 Jews.

Here they were in the presence of the most powerful man on earth,

and they knew he would not hesitate to destroy them if they defy him.

Nebuchadnezzar wanted 100% loyalty, and he was determined to get

it by burning all who would not obey him.

It would have been the most natural human thing to do to

rationalize your way out of this dilemma. After all, they could have

argued that if we bow and live we will be in a better position to be

servants of God and the Jewish people than if we are dead. Certainly

just this once could not hurt that much. It would be just one bow

and they would be free, for they had the king's word. He was trying

to be fair about the whole thing, and so maybe we should go along

with him just his once. Whether or not they had any such thoughts

we do not know, but these would be the perfectly normal

rationalizations that would tempt the believer to give in and forsake

his position of absolute loyalty.

In verse 16 we see their response to this offer. In the Amplified

Version it says, "It is not necessary for us to answer you on this

point." There was no quibbling or hesitation. They made it clear to

the king that his treats had no power over them. They had made up

their minds to be loyal to God and nothing could alter their

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