Summary: This is a sermon outline I am using for a podcast on GodNAmerica.com. This lesson contrasts the deadly outcomes of idolatry with the life-giving God.
Daniel 3:17-18 (ESV)
17 If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. 18 But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”
1. One of the great stories of faith and dependence on God comes from Daniel 3 where the three Hebrew boys refused to bow the knee to Nebuchadnezzar’s golden image. These young men knew the living God and refused to influence others away from Him.
2. Herbert Schlossberg, in his book, Idols for Destruction, observed: “Western society, in turning away from the Christian faith, has turned to other things. This process is commonly called secularization, but that conveys only the negative aspect. The word connotes the ‘turning away from the worship of God while ignoring the fact that something is being turned to in its place.”
3. It seems obvious that King Nebuchadnezzar wanted to replace the Hebrews’ worship of God with the worship of his golden image.
4. In American History we have placed a great emphasis on our freedom of religion. The first amendment reminds us of our God-given right to practice our religion, which includes our worship of God.
5. The Pilgrims fled England and the religious tyranny of the king. They did not immediately come to the New World, but went to Holland and enjoyed the freedom to worship. A number of issues resulted in their coming to what is now Massachusetts – not just for the freedom to worship, but for the purpose of advancing the gospel as they stated in the Mayflower Compact. That is, they wanted to live out their religion freely without governmental interference.
• What picture of God do you think they had? – Patient, longsuffering, determined, concerned
• How did they try to live up to it and become like Him?
6. It is important that we carefully choose the one we worship because we become like what or whom we worship.
a. Ralph Waldo Emerson:
“THE GODS we worship write their names on our faces, be sure of that. And a man will worship something —have no doubt about that, either. He may think that his tribute is paid in secret in the dark recesses of his heart—but it will out. That which dominates will determine his life and character. Therefore, it behooves us to be careful what we worship, for what we are worshiping we are becoming.”
b. Hosea 9:10c (ESV)
But they came to Baal-peor
and consecrated themselves to the thing of shame,
and became detestable like the thing they loved.
7. The Bible is really the story of God with man. Daniel 3 contrasts living God and idols of men.
I. The Plain Idol (Daniel 3:1-7)
A. Idols are:
1. Devised in the Minds of Men
2. Displayed by the will of men
3. Declared by the Power of men
a. To unify a diverse population of worshipers of many gods?
b. A new god everyone could rally around
c. Isn’t that happening today with racism; global warming; politically correct issues, etc.? surely, everyone can rally around these issues and unite as one people. . . .
d. But wait – we’re finding out that certain political groups aren’t really trying to reform America, they are trying to destroy it – avowed Marxists; worshipers of the dead; witchcraft; etc. Are these the gods we want? Apparently some do.
B. Gods of High Control
1. ADRIAN ROGERS: And idol is anything you love more, fear more, value more or serve more than you do Almighty God. Fill in the blank.
2. Replacing God Almighty with the god of Government
3. Race issues bear out this reality
4. Removing our heritage and replacing it with an agenda through education
5. Economic control by the government [Cyrus McCormick invented the “Reaper” and mass-produced it. He created jobs for the populace and enabled farmers to reap wheat more efficiently and make more money. The government was not part of his process. He did it through free enterprise. . . .
6. Government wants to determine and dole out our rights
a. King George III did this with the colonies
b. Our rights have already been given – by God – “unalienable rights”
c. Government is supposed to be used for our good (Romans 13) – what if it is not good? [Stay tuned, we will delve into this question in the near future.
C. Our Answer: We need the Right God
1. To know Him
2. To serve Him
3. To become like Him in thought and action (the “greatest command according to Jesus comes from Deuteronomy 6:5 (ESV): 5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.).