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Summary: How do we fire-proof our lives and our faith, and also protect ourselves against the constant faith-wearing coercive influence of our society.

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Daniel: standing the fire. Daniel 3:1-30 WBC 25/4/04am

INTRODUCTION

Starting series in the minor Prophets, looking at key verses in each, but in context of the whole book

- by way of introduction, before we properly get into series- look at Daniel which is often counted as the lesser of the 4 major prophets or the most major of the minor!

After Solomon’s time (about 1000BC) the nation of the Jews split into 2.

- N kingdom- called ‘Israel’, capital Samaria

o Fell to the Assyrians around 722 BC

- S Kingdom remained- called ‘Judah’.

o It’s capital, Jerusalem, fell to the Babylonians in 587 BC

o But that was all that was left to fall- as had destroyed most of the towns and carted people off prior to that

 Carted off to the area called the Chaldes (where Abram left –the area today mainly Iraq)

Daniel was one of the first carted off… along with most of the well educated, and the nobility (ie Ezekiel, taken slightly after him)

- in fact: Ezekiel is probably referring to this Daniel in:

EZE 28:3 Are you wiser than Daniel?

Is no secret hidden from you?

- Daniel was taken to Babylon in 605BC

- so, book covers 604-535 BC… which covers the rise of the Babylonian empire and it’s fall to the Persian one (Medes/Persia- the area now mainly Iran)

o Cyrus is a Persian, and the one prophesied in Isaiah

It’s a book with accurate history, some uncertain names, and interesting historical insights in it. For example:

- it’s the Babylonians (king Neb) who burn their political enemies, but the Medes/ Persians feed them to the lions (ie king darius)

o history supports this. Fire was sacred to the Medes/Persians as they were mainly Zoroastrians

- Also- you find King Neb (a Babylonian) able to change laws any old way he wants, but Darius ( the Mede) unable to rescue Daniel from the lions den. Because the Babylonians could change laws once instituted- but the Medes not

Anyway- Daniel and his 3 friends are taken to Babylon and re-named by the king.

- Daniel’s new name (Belteshazzar) probably meant “may the lady, wife of the god bel… baal… protect the king’

o Pretty offensive to a Jew… and pretty egotistical of the king!

o Can see why he just refers to himself as ‘Daniel’ in the book, whereas his 3 colleagues are referred to by their (innocuous) Babylonian names Shadrach, Meshach & Abednigo.

But the offence wasn’t only one way. I reckon the Babylonians are a bit heated at the favour these guys get when they are promoted over them

- and that’s what is partly behind our focal verses, today

COMPROMISE - COERCED TO COMPROMISE

Interestingly Daniel isn’t in our story, today. He merely reports it

- the focus is on the other 3

They were being coerced to capitulate and compromise to idolatry

- the Babylonians were astrologers (chaldeans/astrologers = synonymous) and polytheists who were into idols.

o Anything, really!

= Bad news for the monotheistic Jews whose first commandment was

- DT 6:4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength

- something they would recite at the start of each day and prayer (called the ‘Shema’, “hear”)

This was a big problem… and a big threat. Worship our idol or die!

Now- we may think- this is no help to me! “we don’t face this!”

- true, we don’t

- although the UK church seems to have a fad every 15 years of saying ‘persecution’s coming’. We DON’T face this

- but I have a brother who does. And a sister. Nigeria. Indonesia

o millions DO, and many who read this have

But we face something equally as bad, and more damaging to spiritual health:

- indifference

- not facing the fire- but ‘the gentle cosy warmth to compromise’

- they say: throw a frog into the fire and it will jump out

o but you can turn the heat up slowly and BOIL it!

o That’s what we face: gentle coercion to compromise

 All the time!

 Work- in the way we work and mentioning we’re a Xian. On the PC- where one click can take us to a site we shouldn’t. With the friends. Family

The truth is: trouble, ‘fire’, persecution… real attack… harsh awful events – seldom (eventually) have a damaging affect on faith

- but lukewarm cool coercion does

- and giving in to the coercion certainly does

o miss out on the blessing that results here

This is not a story about pain and persecution- but blessing and boldness

- “why am I not blessed by God?”

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