Summary: There's part of this story of the fiery furnace that I'd always missed. There was one question upon which everything else hinged - not only in this story but also in our lives. Do you know what that question is?
When my sister Barbranne was in her early 20’s she left the Church and Jesus behind and went off to live the “wild life.” At age 55 she decided she’d hurt herself in that decision and started going back to church. One of the first things she did was to buy a Children’s Bible because she wanted to reacquaint herself with some of the basic stories she’d learned as a youth.
This morning, instead of reading the text from Scripture (as we usually do) I want to read you the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego from a Children’s Bible. You should be able to follow along in your Bible because this Children’s story follows very closely with the verses out of your Bible.
(I had taken the story from http://www.dltk-bible.com/cv/three_faithful_men-cv.htm and printed and pasted the words into a Children’s Bible we had in the church library. I did minor alterations to the story including changing their reference to the 4th man in the fire - which they identified as an angel - to say "like the Son of God." I sat on a stool and began reading the story to the audience as I would if I were reading it to little children).
ILLUS: A representative of the gas company phoned the owner of an expensive new home to make an appointment for the service man to come in and light the gas pilots and adjust the furnace.
The owner of the home said he's better meet the workman, or he'd never get the furnace going.
The gas company rep insisted that his people were well trained and would have no trouble.
The owner said, “You don't understand. When your man tries to adjust the furnace he'll go out of his mind. The thermostat in the entry hall is a dummy for my wife to play with.
Only I know where the real one is hidden.
(Reader’s Digest, December 1973)
The owner of the house knew where the thermostat was
Warren Wiersbe once noted that “when God permits his children to go through the furnace, He keeps his eye on the clock and His hand on the thermostat.” That was another of saying that is that God knows where the real thermostat is hidden.
The story we’ve read this morning is one of the best known in Scripture. Every child who’s ever been to Sunday school knows the story by heart and it is included in every Children’s Bible story book I’ve ever seen. And - of course – being a preacher I KNOW all about that story… except for the part I’m going to tell you about this morning. There’s something in this story I didn’t catch before. But before we get to that, there’s few thing I think we need to deal with.
1st this is a real story. It’s not made up. It really happened. Now how do I know that? Well, (for one thing) I trust God. And I trust God to take care of His book and He wouldn’t allow us to be misled by some made-up story. If it’s in the book… it happened. God would NOT let us buy into lies
Now, just as an example, we read about this HUGE statue. It’s about 90 feet tall – that’s about 8 stories. And it’s a golden image. Really? That’s kinda hard to believe!!! That’s an awful lot of gold, and something that big would certainly just topple over and fall on its face.
We’re not given much detail, but many scholars believe that this was not a free standing statue. It’s reasonable to believe it may have been carved into a cliff and that it might not even been entirely made of gold. The text simply says it was an image of gold. It could have been made of another metal or rock and covered with sheets of hammered gold.
ILLUS: Also, there was an ancient historian named Diodorus Siculus who made mention of a statue of gold in, the temple of Belus which Xerxes demolished. It was 40 feet high, and contained a 1000 talents of gold (67,000 pounds or 33.5 tons).
(From John Gill’s Expositor)
It’s what people did back then. Using gold in this fashion was a common activity and because they were honoring their gods in this fashion they felt it was an appropriate way of expressing devotion.
So our story is based on actual behavior of societies of the day. But this is not only just a true story but it’s a story with a twist. This statue was an idol erected to glorify a pagan god. Idols in Babylon to honor their gods were probably a dime a dozen. But this idol is different.
1st - It was huge!
And 2nd - this was Nebuchadnezzar’s idol.