Summary: Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were facing the test of integrity. Every person who decides to live for God will also face the test of integrity. Let me share with you three aspects from this passage of scripture concerning integrity so that you will not
THE TEST OF INTEGRITY
Daniel 3: 1-6; 8-21; 24-25; 30
This young man was born in 1906 and grew up in Germany. He later felt the call to ministry and entered into training for the ministry. During the time that he was in seminary, his home country of Germany was undergoing great chaos from the political unrest due to the National Socialist Party (Nazis). Disturbing changes were taken place at a rapid pace. Jewish people were being singled out for persecution, and opponents of the Socialist party were also being mistreated, including the confiscation of private property, imprisonment, beatings and even death. Most German pastors were choosing to ignore these discretions and even going as far as courting favor with the Nazi powers. This young man at first chose the easy way out, after finishing seminary, he left Germany with all of it’s problems and went to England to pastor a German speaking church in the heart of London, far away from Germany and it’s struggles. He was living a relatively quiet, serene life on the outside, but he was struggling still on the inside. Then he received a letter from one of the leading theologians in the world who was also a pastor living in Germany. He was exhorted that now was not the time to lead the quiet life, but to make a stand for that which was right. Not long afterward, he returned to Germany and instead of remaining silent, he spoke out openly against the Socialist Party and their leader, a man by the name of Adolph Hitler. This caused him to cross the “powers that be” and he was soon arrested. In his hearing before the Gestapo during his imprisonment, defenseless and powerless as he then was only fortified by the word of God in his heart, he stood erect and unbroken before his tormentors. He refused to recant, and defied the Gestapo machine by openly admitting that, as a Christian, he was an implacable enemy of National Socialism and its totalitarian demands toward the citizen—defied it, although he was continually threatened with torture and with the arrest of his parents, his sisters and his fiancée, who all had a helping hand in his activities. … In 1944, when friends made an attempt to liberate him and to take him to safety abroad, he decided to remain in prison in order not to endanger others. Finally in April, 1945, Dietrich Bonhoffer, one of the greatest theologians of the 20th century, was strangled with a piano wire, by the orders of the Nazis, just a few days before the end of the war.
Dietrich Bonhoffer was a man of integrity. He did not have to die, he didn’t have to take such a strong stand, but integrity will be integrity, even when it’s faced with death by a piano wire or by a burning furnace. He came face to face with the test of integrity and passed, even with his life. Just like Bonhoffer, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah also came to the test of integrity. Every person will face the test of integrity.
Here in chapter three of the book of Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar ordered that an image of gold be set up on the plains of Dura. This image was close to 30 yards high and three yards in width. Most scholars believe that the image was a copy of Nebuchadnezzar which he set up for worship. Some believe that he wanted to unify Babylon with a centralized religion, and he thought of nothing better to worship than himself. This shows the instability of the king for earlier he had praised the God of Israel, but now the focus turns again on himself. Man, without a true relationship with God will always return the focus back to himself. The king had ordered all the leaders in his government to gather in this place. No doubt he thought there’s no better way to lead the people to worship him than by having the leaders of Babylon do so. We have no record of where Daniel was at, most believe that he was away on some type of official business for the king. However, Daniel’s three friends, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, were called to be there on that day. They were told that when they heard the sound of music, for the king had assembled the royal orchestra to play, that everyone there was to bow down and worship this image. Some scholars have estimated that perhaps as many as three hundred thousand people were there that day. Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were definitely going to face the test of integrity. Let me share with you three aspects from this passage of scripture concerning integrity.
I. NOTE THE PRESSURE THAT INTEGRITY WILL FACE.
1. I want to share with you two verses from the scriptures as we begin.