Summary: These three young men stood up for God, and so were used in amazing ways to impact the greatest king who ever lived. They refused to do what was convenient and safe and rather entrusted themselves to God in the face of death.
Passage: Daniel 3:1-30
Intro: Have you ever been frustrated by your inability to bring someone to faith in Christ?
1. you share your faith, you live a transformed life, you love and serve
2. sometimes even nag and cajole!!
3. but they continue walking in the darkness, and we wonder where’s God
4. I love these early chapters of Daniel because they reveal God at work!!
5. we have come to one of those really famous passages, every SS kid has heard it! Pretty scary!
6. but since we are looking for God at work, we need to start with a little review in order to see this powerful event in context.
7. Otherwise we will miss out on the deep principles God is teaching us for our encouragement!
I. There Are Two Paths to This Event
PP converging pathways, from bottom to top, ending in fiery furnace
1. God is at work in one individual and one group.
2. Start with Nebuchadnezzar in chapter 1.
3. He was introduced thru a decision he made to a unique group of people.
4. they were made known to him because of their unique food choices, and then because of their superior wisdom.
PP Daniel 1:20
5. he did not know it yet, but their superior knowledge came from their superior God!
PP Daniel 1:17
6. so these Jews became part of his court, his entourage
PP 7. these Jews had been brought to Babylon under discipline, so they were like unwilling missionaries
PP Daniel 1:2
8. and thru food test and examination, they saw their God-designed ways were superior, and so was their God.
9. and God continues to work on both paths!
10. chapter 2, Nebuchadnezzar has a dream, wants a wise man to tell him both content and interpretation
11. amazing statement by his best magicians.
PP Daniel 2:11
12. and this gives God the opportunity to reveal Himself to Neb as the far superior “revealer of mysteries” PP
13. far superior to the “gods” who don’t talk to anyone
14. and on the path of the believers, God saves them from certain death, and reveals Himself to them as omniscient! PP
15. and He rescues those who trust in Him. PP
16. God is at work in everyone’s lives, but not much to show for it yet in Nebuchadnezzar’s life. But there is change in the three young Jews.
17. after this wonderful recognition of God’s superiority in the dream interpretation, we come to the showdown on the plain of Dura, where…
II. Bright Light Continues to Invade Nebuchadnezzar’s Darkness
1. after this fabulous revelation of his dream and interpretation, look what happens!
2. Nebuchadnezzar decides to make everyone in his polytheistic empire worship his god, and maybe him!!
3. sets up a 90 foot tall image of gold, (plated, not solid) and requires everyone to worship it. Vv5-6
4. to refuse is to die horribly
5. all the work of God to this point seems wasted, because Nebuchadnezzar seems to be walking deeper into darkness
6. but God is not thru. In fact, He is using this sinful and rebellious act of Nebuchadnezzar to be a dark backdrop for the revelation of bright light!
7. because these Jews won’t bow down, even in the face of certain death!
8. v12 “pay no attention…neither serve your god or worship the image of gold.” Why not? What’s the big deal?
9. they were given a choice, and they chose obedience to God!
10. and when Nebuchadnezzar gave them a second chance, they responded in a way that form some of the most powerful words of Scripture. Vv17-18
11. against this dark backdrop of unrighteousness, they confidently chose God’s righteousness at great cost.
12. they had been brought to this place by earlier tests and experiences.
13. and now they were ready to be used by God with their lives on the line.
14. so with calm confidence and faith, they shrugged off the threat and chose to trust God with their lives.
15. end time believers will have exactly the same choice.
16. don’t we wonder why God puts His people through this kind of test? Prepares us for it?
III. God’s Ultimate Revelational Purpose
1. look at what happened after these three men got tossed in!
2. right in front of Nebuchadnezzar and his court, they stayed alive in a fire that killed the soldiers who threw them in!
3. and the public examination afterward confirmed the miracle!
4. so here is the purpose! Don’t miss it
5. the life-changing faith of Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego was made absolutely clear. V28
6. and that their faith was justified was also proven, because God saved them from an impossible situation, and everyone saw it!