Summary: This is an amazing story of a definite stand three young men took for God. They knew the circumstance they faced, they knew the consequences of their actions, yet they did not back down.
Beyond Flannelgraph: Treasured Stories, Timeless Truths
Sunday, September 5, 2010
Text: Daniel 3:7-18
My family started going to church when I was three years old and I accepted Christ when I was five. I was raised in church…and my parents believed that it was a good thing to be in church every time the door was open. When I say we didn’t miss church I mean we didn’t miss church!
I’ve told you that I never had to ask my parents if we were going to Sunday school or church…I didn’t ask the question because I already knew the answer! We were always in church…by the way; it really didn’t hurt me at all! As a matter of fact, I believe that God used my parent’s commitment to the Lord to instill in me the importance of attending and being a faithful member of the body today.
I love going to church…I always have. My favorite part of church when I was growing up was Sunday school. I remember my teachers telling the greatest stories I had ever heard. They told stories about a young man who defeated a giant warrior, about a global flood and a huge boat, about a baby in a basket, and about a strong man that killed a lion with his bare hands. They also told stories about God’s Son, His life, His death, His resurrection and the gift He desires to give to everyone who believes on Him. I loved Sunday school! I especially loved when the teacher used visual aids.
One of my favorite visual aids the teachers used was the filmstrip. These filmstrips came with records and they seemed to make these magnificent stories come to life. Another visual aid I loved was the flannelgraph. I know we don’t use flannelgraph very often and I think that’s because our kids are so inundated with technology. But I enjoyed flannelgraph and to this day when I think of some of these stories I still see those flannelgraph images in my mind.
I love Sunday school stories…but many times we tend to think of the stories we heard week in and week out as being just for kids. However, the same truths we learned as kids are just as necessary for us to remember and apply to our lives as adults. It’s always a good thing to remember those things that we have learned and to be reminded of truths that are still relevant.
This is the point of this message series…to re-examine these treasured stories and discover again their timeless truths. You see, the message of these stories extends past the children’s ministry and goes beyond the flannelgraph that we remember and love. It is my prayer that as we take some time to look back that God will stir our hearts once again and that we will allow His Word to move us to passionately live for and trust in Him.
This morning I want to start with one of my favorite Bible stories…I call it “The Stand”. The story takes place on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon.
- Babylon was the dominant world power at that time
- The Israelites had been conquered, they were in captivity and Jerusalem had been destroyed
- Many Jewish boys were taken out of their homeland and sent to serve in Babylon
- The story of four of those boys is told in the first few chapters of the book of Daniel
- We learn that God had given favor to Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego
- Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were in charge of the business of the province of Babylon while Daniel served in the king’s royal court.
- Nebuchadnezzar decided to build a monstrous statue (9 story building, 9 feet wide, overlaid with gold), it was most likely the image of Marduk, the principle god of Babylon and the god the king worshipped.
- The king brought all the officials of his empire together and instructed them to bow to the image and worship it when the music began to play, his desire was for them to worship his god and the penalty for failing to do so was death in a blazing furnace
- This furnace would have been near the statue and had been used to smelt metal for the gold plating and manufacturing of bricks for the base of the statue.
- The furnace was large, with an opening at the top to vent smoke and to insert ore. It would have been in the shape of a glass milk bottle and would have a smaller opening at ground level through which they would insert wood and charcoal to provide the heat. Temperatures in the furnace could reach 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Fear must have gripped the heart of those who heard the decree…but the king’s command was especially difficult for Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. They knew that they were not worship any God but Jehovah. They were faced with what amounted to a life or death decision.