Summary: 1) Play to the right audience (God), 2) Trust God for lasting security, 3) Commit to what is right. Neb is insecure, while Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego are secure in God!
CONQUERING INSECURITY—Daniel 3
I wonder how many of us here this morning struggle with insecurity.
Maybe you don’t feel good enough—attractive, competent, successful enough. Maybe you don’t feel that your opinions are valued—you are not respected, or you don’t have a lot of influence. Maybe you don’t feel safe—always asking, “What if…?” Maybe people have high standards for you, and you wonder whether you can measure up, or whether you will disappoint them. Maybe you have high standards for yourself, and you can’t seem to satisfy your goals and hopes for yourself.
Most people struggle with insecurity of some sort—ESPECIALLY those who go out of their way to project an image of unshakable confidence and power.
Nebuchadnezzar was one of those people.
He had a vast kingdom, unlimited power, and hundreds of people to do whatever he asked. When he said, “Jump,” people would say, “How high?”
Yet insecurity is not eradicated by wealth, power, popularity, beauty, or success. If we could sit down in private with people who have those things, we would discover that none of them make insecurity disappear.
As we saw last week, Neb had a dream—actually, more like a nightmare. His dream was of an enormous statue, dazzling and awesome. The head was pure gold, but going down on the body, gold turned to silver, then bronze, then iron, and finally iron mixed with clay.
In Neb’s dream, a rock was cut out of a mountain, “not by human hands.” It struck the statue, crushing it to powder, making it like chaff on a threshing floor. The meaning was clear, as Daniel described it: The gold head was Nebuchadnezzar, powerful and strong, but his powerful kingdom stood on feet of clay, and all that he built was destined to be broken apart.
The dream haunted Neb, as it haunts us, because we know that no matter how successful we are—whether in education, athletics, work, family, or personal achievements—it could all crumble away and turn to dust.
So Neb desperately set out to prove the dream wrong.
Read Daniel 3:1-7.
The statue is 90 feet tall! Who needs a statue 90 feet tall, unless he is trying to prove something? The statue is gold, not just in the head, but from top to bottom. The consequence for refusing to worship Neb is to be thrown into a blazing furnace. If Neb cannot earn respect, he will decree respect.
The storyteller enjoys listing all the government officials who must bow on command before Neb, so he repeats the list twice: “satraps, prefects, governors, advisors, treasurers, judges, magistrates and all other provincial officials.” Everyone is called to worship Neb by a cacophony of musical instruments—Persian, Greek, Afghan, and Hebrew instruments—and the storyteller repeats the list 4 times! To allay Neb’s insecurity, “all the peoples, nations and men of every language fell down and worshipped the image of gold”—the 90 foot image of gold—that King Neb had set up.
Neb is struggling with insecurity. But he is not the only one.
Read Daniel 3:8-12.
Why do the astrologers care whether 3 men, out of many thousands, pay no attention to Neb’s command to worship him? Are they jealous? Are they trying to eliminate the competition for power and influence?
Well, we do sort of know why they care. It is like junior high girls who say, “Did you hear about Susie…?” (Of course, the girls might be 53 or 83 years old.) It is like people who delight in sharing the faults of coworkers, or publicly criticize others for things which are none of their business. Insecurity.
When Neb hears that Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego have dared to disobey his unreasonable order, he loses it.
Read Daniel 3:13-15.
What is this really about?
Do you ever ask that question? Two people get into it at work, over some small thing—What is this really about? A husband and wife tear into each other, over the tiniest little mistake—What is this really about? Two friends aren’t speaking to each other, and they can hardly remember what caused the shutdown—What is this really about? Insecurity—insecurity about power, love, self-worth, competition, or fear of rejection. Insecurity causes conflict and nasty behavior.
Neb is insecure. The astrologers are insecure. Daniel’s 3 friends (foreigners and former interns) have every reason to feel insecure, for they have been called into the boardroom, and they are in danger of being (literally!) fired. Are they insecure?
Read Daniel 3:16-18.
The story is masterfully told, contrasting the insecurity of Neb and his astrologers with the unshakable confidence and resolve of Daniel’s 3 friends. Even facing death, they seem solid as a rock.
We have to ask,
HOW CAN WE CONQUER INSECURITY? What can we learn from these 3 men?
-PLAY TO THE RIGHT AUDIENCE—an audience of One.
Daniel 3:16 “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, ‘King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter.’”