Summary: Loyalty to God ---- NO MATTER THE COST

July 24, 2021

We have now arrived at the Book of DANIEL. I love this book. I love that God gave Nebuchadnezzar a glimpse of the future {Ch 2} and I love the passion with which God pursued him {Ch 4}. I love that God told Daniel he was well loved in heaven {9:23; 10:11, 19}. And yes, I love the prophecies because they remind me that God is ultimately in control and therefore, I have nothing to fear.

I love all those things about Daniel, but they are not My Favorite Thing. What is? Loyalty to God no matter the cost.

Daniel 1:

Time and again God sent prophets to warn the people of Israel of the consequences of their infidelity. Yet, as we’ve noted, they refused to listen and experienced the consequences of their choices. After the Battle at Carchemish in 605 BC – Nebuchadnezzar laid siege to Jerusalem. As a result, King Jehoiakim began to pay tribute to Nebuchadnezzar, which included the young nobility of Judah being taken to Babylon. Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah were a part of that group.

These 4 boys were chosen to attend the king’s university and were “honored” with new names and were provided food and drink from the king’s table. The intent behind this was to absorb them into the culture of Babylon and transfer their loyalty from Judah to Nebuchadnezzar. To accept the rich foods from the kings table would be an acknowledgment that he was provider and sustainer and evidence of the transfer of loyalty.

That worked for 99.9% of all captives, but these 4 had a different definition of Loyalty.

Although they were good Jews, their loyalty didn’t rest on nation or religion. You see, blind loyalty to nation can lead to the marginalizing and persecution of “outsiders” and blind loyalty to religion can lead to Crusades and Inquisitions. Yes, they were good Jews, but the focus of their loyalty rested on ONE greater than nation or religion. They were loyal to God and that sort of loyalty leads to love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control {Galatians 5:22-23} and that makes all the difference.

Under no circumstance could these 4 give their loyalty to anyone but God. Faithfulness/Loyalty are not Faithfulness/Loyalty if they are only practiced when times are good, and so…. they politely “rebelled” asking to be allowed to eat only fruits, vegetables, and grains and drink only water. They knew that refusing to eat from the kings table would be misunderstood and that the consequences might be significant, but to compromise was unthinkable.

It was touch and go, but finally, they were allowed to eat as they wished and they did so throughout their university years. At the final exam……

Daniel 1:20 - And as for every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king consulted them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and conjurers who were in all his realm.

Daniel 3:

Daniel had said that Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom would not last --- the head of gold would be replaced with a chest of silver. For some period of time the king was in awe of this prophecy, but eventually his arrogance got the better of him and a statue made entirely of gold was just the ticket to prove Daniel AND God wrong. Every important official from every corner of the vast empire ATTENDED and INTENDED to bow down to the immense statue of gold.

Daniel 3:4-6 - 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."

So, the bleachers were full, the musicians at the ready and the furnaces hot – just in case.

The sound of music drifted over the crowd and everyone hit the ground – except for 3.

The King had in his employ men who were jealous of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego and here was the perfect opportunity to be rid of them. These advisors drew Nebuchadnezzar’s attention to the fact that these Jewish boys were not bowing down.

Daniel 3:9-12 - …. "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."

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