Summary: This sermon was preached to students at a Loughborough C.U. How will we stand in your own testing times? Lets learn from Shadrach,Meshach and Abednego as they are men to emulate.
Daniel Chapter 3. 17-30. Testing Times.
This section of the book, Daniel the writer is nowhere to be found the starring roles are taken by three of his close friends, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah 1:6 who are now called Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego . These were testing times for these young men as they were taken into captivity and coerced into a assimilation programme which they wanted nothing to do with.
Fundamental to this change was their name change from their Hebrew names which were connected to the God they worshipped. To new Babylonian names which were connected to the Babylonian gods, this was an assimilation programme to remove their real identities away from Yahweh to the Babylonian gods of Marduk (chief god), Aku (moon god) (Nego god of learning) .
Yet until this point in the story they were treated well and were even given important positions as administrators of the province of Babylon at Daniels request 2:49 because God was with Daniel in the interpretation of the Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. Daniel new he couldn’t do the job on his own and he needed the right people around him, people who knew who they were in an alien land. As a result these young men had good positions a good life and were well respected, but when it came to the crunch would they bow to this idol, something had to give....
Our postmodern world today is trying to do with our culture, what it was doing here to these young men to assimilate them into a new way of thinking, to give them what they want, but at the same time to change their way of thinking from a Christian worldview that has been so prevalent in our society the west for centuries but sadly many have succumbed and have been imbibed by a deadly poison.
These were and still are testing times for you especially as young people you are the ones who are going to be going to the places of influence in our nation, you are going to face testing time as a Christian within and outside, your own personal beliefs in God are going to be stiffly challenged, and it might have already started in this institution we call university.
• What examples can you give in your own experience to the worlds assimilation programme?
Are you slowly being assimilated into the worlds thinking in regard to religion, ethics and philosophy whether it’s slowly growing in your mind that all religions are intrinsically the same the same with multi faith worship, ethical issues like homosexuality being a viable alternative lifestyle to atheistic world view a life devoid of God being the only logical stance to take we are bombarded with all this via our universities, politics and new laws being passed and through the media being the epicentre where it is all pumped through all of which is at work to shape you into its mould and the Babylonian culture was no different and so why should ours?
• Somebody quoted “Though we claim to be a free pluralistic society, in fact people are increasingly being forced into the mould of secular-humanist-consumer-capitalism. Of course the coercion applied is not that of a police state. The machinations of political correctness are far more subtle than that but nevertheless very potent”.
Nebuchadnezzar began to build a ninety feet high by nine foot wide gold idol from head to toe, his strategy was to unite the nation and solidify his power by giving a central place to worship. The structure itself was probably inspired by his earlier dream 2:31 that Daniel had interpreted.
The building of this structure shows us that Nebuchadnezzar’s previous devotion to Yahweh was never genuine because it was short lived . He neither feared nor obeyed the God who was behind the dream in the first place. His design is for everyone to bow down to his idol, for all to sing from the same Hymn sheet. The world has seen this behaviour over and over again from empires like the Babylonians to the Persians to the Romans from dictators like Hitler to Stalin, to our present day situation to the final end times where the Bible says there will come a time when the anti Christ comes Rev 13: 3 and the world will follow him and Gods people will be persecuted and he will have authority and people who are not in the book of life will worship Him. Friends those days are slowly coming, how we will stand in testing times.
Many Christians through the years have been martyred from the Apostles to the Church Fathers to those who lived through the reformation like Cranmer, Latimer and Ridley to Dietrich Bonheoffer who stood against the Nazi’s1945.To present day Christians around the world with the upsurge of radical Islam.