Summary: How can we be people that live for Christ no matter what?
One Sunday on the way home from church a pastor was beaming with pride. He had just preached what he thought was his greatest sermon. After walking in the door, he asked his wife “Well dear, what did you think of the sermon this morning?” She was very non-committal in her response, “Oh, it was good.” The pastor wouldn’t let it drop so easily. “Mrs. Smith said on the way out of church that I must be one of the great preachers of our generation.” Still no response from the wife. The pastor pushed on. “How many great preachers do you think there are in our generation?” Without a moment’s hesitation she fired back, “One less than you think.”
Have you ever thought like that before? Have you ever just looked into a mirror and thought to yourself, “Man…I am awesome!.” Have you ever just thought that you were the best thing since sliced bread? All over the world, there are people who, plain and simple, think they are just SO good. We can all think of examples of this: from Oprah Winfrey to Donald Trump. The world is full of these people.
I truly believe, though, that none of the people you could think of quite compare to one man in history. Go back before the Caesars of Rome and back before Alexander the Great. Back before King Herod of Galilee and before the Pharisees of Jerusalem, there was King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. Now, this was a guy that thought a lot of himself. So much so, in fact, that he thought he could create a god!
And if you look in the book of Daniel chapter three, you can see that Nebuchadnezzar made a golden state that was ninety feet high and nine feet wide. This was no little Buddha statue. This statue the same height of fifteen of me stacked on top of the other and wider than I am tall. This was no ordinary pagan statue, it was massive!
So, Nebuchadnezzar builds this monstrosity and then summons all his satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates and all the other provincial officials to come to the dedication of the god he had created. And when all these people arrive at the dedication, they are commanded to worship the beastly idol when they hear the music play. So, the king puts on his music and everyone bowed down and worshiped the idol as commanded.
All except for three young men: Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, better known to us as Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. They refused to bow down to this idol. And when Nebuchadnezzar caught wind of this he was absolutely furious! How dare they disobey the king!! So, they were brought to him and confronted, but the men stood fast, saying, “If you throw us into that fire, we won’t need to defend ourselves because God will come to our rescue. And even if he doesn’t, we will never bow down and worship your idol!”
We’ll pick up in verse 19: Then Nebuchadnezzar was full of fury, and the expression on his face changed toward Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. He spoke and commanded that they heat the furnace seven times more than it was usually heated. And he commanded certain mighty men of valor who were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, and cast them into the burning fiery furnace. Then these men were bound in their coats, their trousers, their turbans, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. Therefore, because the king’s command was urgent, and the furnace exceedingly hot, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.
Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished; and he rose in haste and spoke, saying to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?”
They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” “Look!” he answered, “I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.”
Then Nebuchadnezzar went near the mouth of the burning fiery furnace and spoke, saying, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here.” Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego came from the midst of the fire. 27 And the satraps, administrators, governors, and the king’s counselors gathered together, and they saw these men on whose bodies the fire had no power; the hair of their head was not singed nor were their garments affected, and the smell of fire was not on them.
Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, who sent His Angel and delivered His servants who trusted in Him, and they have frustrated the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they should not serve nor worship any god except their own God! Therefore I make a decree that any people, nation, or language which speaks anything amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made an ash heap; because there is no other God who can deliver like this.”