Summary: Part 4 of 8 in a series covering words in the Bible that are all too often overlooked or ignored.
INTRODUCTION: What is the # 1 most spoken word by young children? The answer without a doubt is “why,” it’s a word that is spoken dozens if not hundreds of times a day… and if we’re honest it’s not just kids that throw that one out it’s adults as well… we always want to know the “why” of things. So what’s the # 2 most spoken word by little children, it has to be the word “no,” and often times it gives # 1 a run for its money, and as a parent there are days that I feel like the only word I ever say is “no.”
BACKGROUND: Sometimes the word no, is easy to say, it rolls off the tongue without pause, yet there are other times that it’s without doubt the hardest of all words to say, those times typically being situations of great consequence. “No” is indeed the hardest word in the Bible, and in all human speech, yet it’s a word that needs to be said… a word that must be said! Remember it was the inability or unwillingness on the part of our first parents to say “no” has made mankind a slave… to sin and death! In our time together we will examine examples from Scripture of those who uttered the hardest word, and how doing so impacted their lives!
NO…TO ANOTHER MAN’S WIFE
• While Joseph was an illustration of our very first word, the most beautiful word “forgiveness,” he also serves as an illustration of this our hardest word – “no”
• The story unfolds in the household of a rich Egyptian man, Potiphar, who owned many slaves. One of them was our betrayed brother… Joseph
• Joseph was a man of unusual ability who by his devotion to God and faithful service had been placed in charge of Potiphar's large estate
• Now Potiphar's wife had no children and did not seem to love her husband. In short, she had no purpose, she was rich and bored and she became infatuated with Joseph, that infatuation manifested itself in action (Genesis 39:7-10)
• In Egyptian culture, a slave was automatically assumed to be sexually available to their master, so she simply assumed that Joseph would fulfill her request, thus she didn’t take kindly to the rejection
• Joseph was in a delicate situation, he had to either offend the wife or betray her husband.
• He judged that the former was the right course of action… He said “no”
• Yielding to the temptation would have probably been advantageous to Joseph in the short-term, but he resisted the temptation. Most would say “no,” once or twice then yield… Joseph didn’t!
• Suddenly, the passion she felt for Joseph was transformed into rage – and Joseph was the target
• She falsely accused Joseph of rape, and Potiphar cast Joseph into prison
• It looked as if Joseph had “lost everything,” but in reality he “gained everything” by saying “no”
• His path took him through a dark dungeon, but he came out on the other side victorious – the second in command of the most powerful empire on earth!
NO… TO A SELF-ABSORBED KING
• At the heart of any “no” that is uttered in response to temptation is “faithful conviction” it was true of Joseph, and it’s equally true of the trio at the heart of our next example
• Even those who have very little knowledge of the Bible and History have heard of Nebuchadnezzar, that great Babylonian king who “ate grass,” being stricken by God for his arrogance – which happened to be on full display when we meet Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego
• In Daniel 3 we read of Nebuchadnezzar setting up a very large golden image in the Plain of Dura, and requiring all his royal officials, including Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to worship it
• When the time came the answer given by these men was direct and unwavering… “no”
• Having been brought up on the Second Commandment “no other god’s” they stood firm
• For their refusal to obey the king’s decree to bow down to the idol, three charges were brought against them, (1) They paid no heed to the king and his commands, (2) they did not serve the king’s gods, and (3) they refused to worship the golden statue the King himself had set up.
• The penalty for their action (treason) was death, but listen to their response (Daniel 3:15-18)
• So they were cast into the furnace, which was heated to seven times its normal temperature, flames so hot that they killed those who carried out the sentence…
• Then an amazing thing happened… Jesus shows up, or at least most Biblical commentators identify the 4th man in the furnace as a “Christophony” an appearance of the pre-incarnate Jesus