Summary: Exposition of Daniel 3:1-30 about the three Hebrew children.
Text: Daniel 3-1:30, Title: Hebrews Medium Rare, Date/Place: NRBC, 5/3/09, AM
A. Opening illustration: officers discussion about hot places
B. Background to passage: In 2:47 N proclaims that the God of Daniel the God of gods and the Lord of kings, but then only a short while later, he sets himself up a statue of himself. And thus we get the story of the three Hebrew children.
C. Main thought: We will see three great truths found in the text.
A. No Conversion (v. 1, 13)
1. It is kind of scary that N could see a miracle like Daniel’s dream interpretation, then declare Daniel’s God to be the Reveal of Secrets, then some short time later set up a statue of himself for everyone to worship, and make a declaration of death for those who disobey. Do explain the culture of pluralism, and how this probably added to the problem. It’s kind of scary to think that someone who had seen and experienced the power of God could not become a follower. But these verses are a clear indication that N had not truly submitted to the Lordship of Yahweh. Some of the worst enemies of the kingdom are those who came the closest to knowing Christ. And the punishments and accountability are more severe for those that have seen and not believed.
3. Illustration: like the church that had 28,000 decisions for Christ, 9600 baptisms, and 123 people who joined the church, “if, over the next ten or twenty years, John Piper begins to cool off spiritually and lose interest in spiritual things and become more fascinated with making money and writing Christless books; and I buy the lie that a new wife would be exhilarating and that the children can fend for themselves and that the church of Christ is a drag and that the incarnation is a myth and that there is one life to live so let us eat drink and be merry—if that happens, then know that the truth is this: John Piper was mightily deceived in the first fifty years of his life. His faith was an alien vestige of his father’s joy. His fidelity to his wife was a temporary passion and compliance with social pressure; his fatherhood the outworking of natural instincts. His preaching was driven by the love of words and crowds. His writing was a love affair with fame. And his praying was the deepest delusion of all—an attempt to get God to supply the resources of his vanity.” –Piper,
4. Talk a little about our claim to exclusivity and truth concept vs. the world’s pluralism and relativism. Explain how becoming a follower of Christ necessarily excludes other followings. The truth is that many people experience the power of God in a crisis situation, but never truly sell out for Christ. Their following is temporary, or sometimes they don’t understand the cost, or their expectations are incorrect, or a thousand other reasons, but they do not connect with Christ. We have countless visitors to our churches that come and go and never are genuinely converted even though they witness the power of God, the preaching of the gospel, and the love of Christ and His church. So what else is required other than acknowledging God like N did? Repentance, volitional obedience, absolute dependence and trust in Christ. And the evidence will follow of the difficult road, the good fruit, the will of God, and the Word. Don’t wait any longer, surrender to follow Christ right now. Tell about Ronnie’s experience with the guy who couldn’t wait for him to stop preaching. You don’t want to be worse than the first.
B. Real Commitment (v. 16-18)
1. This is of course the stuff that legends and heroes of the faith are made of. N had just asked them “who is the god that will deliver you out of my hand?” And they respond that they don’t need to answer him, God is big enough to answer for Himself. Then they tell him to do what he needs to do, because their confidence was not in the king nor themselves, but in God who is more than able and willing to deliver them. But they wanted the king to know that if God didn’t deliver, they would never bow down. And they did it all without a second thought, or a moment to contemplate. Had they had time to think, they may have rationalized everything. Our hearts are desperately wicked, deceitful, and sick. But in their acknowledgment of the possibility that they might die, they let the king know that it would only be because that was the will of God for their lives. And this kind of death brings life, not death!